Open Houses - "How Do I Get Contact Information from Visitors?"

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Open House

A few months ago, I had a conversation with a newer agent about maximizing the effectiveness of her open houses. By "effectiveness," of course, she meant gathering as many names, numbers and email addresses as she could during her three-hour stints on Sunday afternoons.

She was frustrated (mostly with herself) at her inability to smoothly gather those names, numbers and email addresses from her visitors. Either they seemed hesitant to provide them OR she just wasn't comfortable asking, and usually came away from her open houses empty-handed.

"Jennifer - do you have any suggestions for me?"

Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. 

But first, let's have a paradigm shift, shall we? Too often, we real estate agents focus on what WE need and want, and hope to persuade our audience to play along. For example, WE want that name, number and email address so WE can send a nice little thank-you-for-visiting note and add a warm body to our mailing list, right?  

So we come up with all sorts of sly strategies to get that contact information - such as - "the seller asks that guests sign in for security purposes," or "if you register, you'll be entered to win a lovely gift basket," or simply "please sign my register so I can show the seller how many visitors we had."

Nothing really wrong with these approaches except that there's nothing in it for the visitor. At least, nothing worth relinquishing their private contact information to a hungry Realtor, suspecting they'll be hounded after the fact whether they want to be or not.

So, what could you do instead - here's the kicker - to INSPIRE the visitor to want you to have his or her contact information? Not what you can do to TRICK it out of him, but to actually inspire him to want to give it to you?

And no, the answer isn't to bribe him with free reports, contests, drawings or newsletters...

Any ideas? I'll share mine tomorrow...

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  1. Michael Lissack 11/17/2010 11:51 PM
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Karen Crowson
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Rancho Bernardo, CA
Your Agent for Change

Your exactly right Jennifer.  When we get a dialogue going with a prospect, there will be clues in what they tell us.  I've had people want to know more about the community and what there is to do (send them links to the Downtown Association community events page).  School information - what school would my kids go to?  The latest school boundary list from the district.  In Alameda County where I live, there is a tax base transfer for qualifying homeowners. I send them the details on that.  If someone is potential a short-seller, names of a good real estate attorney or CPA.  When the information is related to just trying to get their contact information without reason, it's much easier to obtain. And then those who are closer to a purchase path - property searches.

Nov 17, 2010 11:49 PM #1
Lisa Matondi
RE/MAX Professional Associates - Brookfield, MA

Good challenge. 

Visitors to open houses fall into a few categories, buyers w/ agents who sent them to the open house (we don't want their info), window shoppers who just like to look at homes( probably don't want their number either, although they could potentially become a buyer so I always ask any way) and new buyers who don't have an agent, these are the buyers to focus on.  It is important to know who to focus on especially if the open is very busy.

When a visitor comes into the open house I always ask for their info on a sign in sheet, I do the writing, so it is legible and I get to ask for their contact info, how they heard about the open house, do they have an agent, which starts a conversation. Most times they offer up the info no problem. I then can ascertain if this is a potential client and if so focus on them.  By the time they have toured the home I know if there is rapport and I then offer the spiel on what a buyer agent can do for a buyer, educate them as to my value for them.  7 times out of 10 I get a new buyer client, not bad. 

Nov 17, 2010 11:59 PM #3
Sue Gabriel
Cleveland, OH

I like Karen's answer. Just having a normal conversation with your visitor may be enough. But I'm definitely looking forward to your ideas tomorrow, because I have also struggled with this subject. I have my clipboard on the kitchen table, and ask politely if they wouldn't mind signing in, but I don't "make them". It still never feels comfortable.

Nov 18, 2010 12:00 AM #4
Mike Mitchell
Real Living Kee Realty - Saint Clair Shores, MI

Oooh, leaving us with a cliffhanger! I'll be back tomorrow JA, really curious to hear your idea!


Nov 18, 2010 12:45 AM #5
Charlie Ragonesi - Big Canoe, GA
Homes - Big Canoe, Jasper, North Georgia Pros

You really have me going with this and then you left me on the edge. In a way this leaving me wanting to come back tomorrow makes the point of your post. For me in open houses I do not really have a good strategy so I will tune in tomorrow

Nov 18, 2010 12:51 AM #6
Ellie Penaranda
239.776.5077 Downing-Frye Realty - Naples, FL
Naples Florida Real Estate - Waterfront & Beach Co

I am only interested in quality leads, so only if I had a conversation with them during the open house, that naturally I want to follow up.  "with my connections with other agents in the area, if I hear of the perfect home for you coming on the market soon, would you like me to contact you?"

Another related to ListingBook (for those who have it in their area):  "If you are serious about purchasing a home this season, I have the perfect tool, for you to search for listings, just like I do, so you get alerted when a reduction is made, or when a home gets a contract - it is truly the best tool I can offer my buyers - would you like to try it?"

Nov 18, 2010 12:55 AM #7
Crystal Pina
774.289.5521 - Worcester, MA
Remax Professional Associates

It's all about trading something of value that they want. I'm still trying to find that "perfect" something of value. Of course then you need the perfect follow-up, lol.

Nov 18, 2010 01:03 AM #8
Bryant Tutas
Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC - Winter Garden, FL
Selling Florida one home at a time

How about just asking? 

Surely getting contact info is not complicated. After all we are in sales.

But just like anything else it's all in the presentation. I personally don't consider requiring a sign in or having a drawing as tricking anyone. Sellers have the right to know who is entering their home. That's one of the reasons why they hire an agent.

So with that in mind how about:

"Hi folks. Welcome. Let's get you registered and then I'll give you the guided tour. Are you folks from around here?"

Short sweet and to the point.

"Why do we have to register?"

"We just need to keep track of who's coming and going. No biggie. What's your name?"

"We really just want to look without giving up our details."

"Ok. Lets' do it. Here's my card in case you have any questions later. Also if you pop me an email I can sned over the web album I have for this property."

Ask twice. If they don't want to do it then just get busy showing the proiperty and BUILDING TRUST.

Nov 18, 2010 01:37 AM #9
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

I am there primarily to promote the house I am in, the one the Sellers are paying me to promote.  However, I love nosy neighbors and of course, wouldn't turn down a buyer prospect.  ;-)  Besides, if those nosy neighbors are there to secretly watch an agent "audition" you better believe they want to see how you promote your client's listing, not watch you aggressively chase down future leads.  I always act as if the seller has a hidden camera on me!

I talk, I listen and when appropriate, offer to follow up with more info.  If there is any scintilla of a chance this is a solid lead, they'll let you know pretty quickly by how they respond to you - I don't ask for contact info, I don't have contests, I don't do anything but talk, listen and offer to be of help...if someone is interested, they'll let me know and it flows naturally from there. 

Prospects know we are there to try and sell them something. They are expecting to be pounced upon and prodded for information.  I find that putting them at ease, letting them know I am there to offer information (and I better know my market if I am going to have anything of value to offer!!!!) works best.  We're not going to get them all - and I only want the ones I don't have to chase down, anyway.  Otherwise, it's just too much dang work!  LOL




Nov 18, 2010 02:45 AM #10
Donne Knudsen
Los Angeles & Ventura Counties in CA - Simi Valley, CA
CalState Realty Services

Jennifer- As a DRE licensed MLO, I will occasionally do open houses for my Realtor friends and over the years, I have picked up a few different ways of doing this. 

For starters, I have no problem striking conversations with people and gleaning info from them.  I'm actually pretty good at it and have on numerous occasions embarrassed hubby with the kind of info I can get from total strangers.  Hubby calls me nosy but I prefer to think of it as just "truly interested in getting to know someone".  C'mon, I'm an MLO, I ask total strangers personal questions all the time, it's my job and I'm very good at it. 

I actually listen to people when they talk and I am truly interested in getting to know what they're looking for and if this home is going to suit their needs.  If it's not, I tell them I know of another property that does suit their needs but I don't have the address on me so if they leave me their contact info, I will email it to them.

Secondly, as others have mentioned, we need to be selective about the ones whose contact info we want.  The ones with Realtors or who say their Realtor sent them, I don't spend too much time on except to talk to them about the homes features, financing options and, of course, ask if they're pre-approved.

I'm also like Bryant where I will ask more than once too, maybe even three times.  That whole three strikes and your out mentality works well for me.

Nov 18, 2010 02:54 AM #11
Robert Rauf
HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ) - Toms River, NJ

Asking works most of the time!

One idea I have seen work in the past is to hand the visitor a clip board with a quick survey about the home.  It makes the experience a little more interactive, Gets some great feed back for your seller, and offers you another opportunity to build that bond with a potential new client.

Nov 18, 2010 03:45 AM #12
Cindy Marchant
Keller Williams Indy NE 317-290-7775 - Carmel, IN
"Cindy in Indy" , Realtor, Fishers Real Estate

I like Michael's response...but I offer a phone number that allows them to call on ANY house that is for sell (doesn't have to be my brokerage) to get a price.  They don't have to get out of the car to grab a flyer, remember the address to look it up later or call the agent to be harassed.  Works every time ...I always can get their phone number and email.

Cindy in Indy

Nov 18, 2010 08:33 AM #13
Kelly Cordova-Armer
Cornerstone Real Estate Professionals - Ogden, UT
Selling with Soul amidst the Utah Mountains!

JA - Perfect timing.  We are having a Company wide Open House tour this weekend.  It's been great to hear the comments being made.  I welcome hearing your thoughts on this one.  Do we offer to send them a "Doodad? :) 

Nov 18, 2010 09:51 AM #14
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul
Nov 18, 2010 11:55 PM #15
Carol Bauza
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Orlando, FL


I do weekend event open houses at least once a month. I teach Open Houses 101 to new agents in our market centers. I have actually been named the Open House Queen in and around the offices...which I'm not really sure is a good!!! I also have on occasion taken a few newbies with me to an open house to "watch and learn wisdom" Yoda style. Every time an agent in the office has a new listing I get a phone call to please do an open house there...Okay, so as I gush on and on about how open house wonderful I am....the bottom line...YOU'VE GOT TO LOVE TO DO IT!!! If not, don't!  I am a people person as I hope most of us Realtors are...I chat with everyone who comes through the door....even if you don't want to talk to me! I tell them about the house, the area, the HOA, and other properties that are for sale or sold. No one gets the same canned speach, it's all off the cuff and unique to that attendee! I treat the home like it were my own and I am the homeowner!  I have acquired a ton of prospects from my opens and communicate with them on a regular basis...I have actually been the catalyst to sell the property and let's say out of 10, 8 have sold! I have cookies, bottled water, soft music, and candles....almost sounds romantic right???? It's not rocket science but after years of event planning and execution I can convince anyone to sign in...and take a tour with me! I enjoy the people and the presence of the home! If I see they are uncomfortable, or negative, or shoot just plain rude...I let them go on and look for themselves, make a note on their sign in sheet and on to the next!!!! I love doing my opens and look forward to the weekends!!

I love your spirit Jennifer and am glad I can call you friend! I have actually learned alot from you over the last year that I have been a Realtor!  Thanks!  You are an inspiration!

Nov 19, 2010 02:33 AM #16
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