Open Houses - Inspiring Visitors to Give You Their Information - Because they WANT to!

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Education & Training with Sell with Soul

Funny - yesterday I posted a blog about getting contact information from open house visitors that ended with a "stay tuned for the next episode" teaser... and got slammed with "I'm doing an open house this weekend, please tell me what to do" notes.

Open HouseOkay, okay, okay. I hope I didn't overpromise in the blog - I don't have any secret phrase or magic sign-in sheet that will ensure names, numbers and email addresses* from your visitors, but I'll give it a shot.

The question I left you with was "How can you INSPIRE open house visitors to WANT to give you their contact information?" Not how to manipulate it out of them, but rather get them to offer it to you because they want you to have it?

The answer is awfully simple.

You DO (or should) have something a bona-fide buyer wanna-be wants. Not market reports or newsletters or lovely gift baskets, but KNOWLEDGE.

You know more about the real estate market and the houses in it than they do. You know the current inventory. You know which houses are priced right and which ones, well, aren't. You know that homes built by THIS builder cost more than ones by THAT builder, and why (and whether they're worth the extra). If the neighborhood of your open house is out of the buyer wanna-be's price range, you know of alternative neighborhoods that might work for him. If your open house is On The Lake (and priced accordingly), you know how much of a break a buyer wanna-be can get to be Not On The Lake, But Close. If a buyer wanna-be really wants a big yard, you know where he can find that while staying close enough to town to suit him.

When I say that you know all these things, I don't mean that you have a handy-dandy printout next to your personal brochure and sign-in sheet describing other houses for sale. Nor do I mean that you've memorized your MLS and can spout off DOM's and PSF's and List-to-Sold Ratios with abandon.

I mean that you have a conversational familiarity with your local real estate market. And you're more than willing to share your knowledge and expertise with anyone who is interested.

Which leads me to the next point. Not everyone who comes to an open house is a good prospect for you. In fact, most probably aren't, for reasons you're already aware of. Just let ‘em go. Don't be rude, of course, but don't fret about getting their digits or demonstrating your expertise to them. Just let them wander thru, politely and pleasantly answer their questions, and relax. You may leave your open house with only one or two folks to follow-up with and that's okay. It's perfectly fine to cherry-pick your future clients, selecting only those with whom you have a natural rapport, who seem to be open to hearing from you again.

Here's the thing. For me (and many of y'all), trying to create rapport with every warm body who walks in the door is exhausting. And discouraging. I'm just not all that charming, and frankly, not everyone wants to be chatted with even if I were. In fact, most probably don't. By the end of the open house, if I've tried to build rapport with everyone who came in, I'm an emotional mess, especially since many of them have probably rejected my advances (I don't handle rejection well). But if I save my emotional energy for those with whom I "click," I CAN be awfully darn charming!

So, what's the punch line?

1.       Be conversationally familiar with the neighborhood, amenities and alternatives to the neighborhood of the house you're holding open and be willing to freely share your knowledge with visitors, and

2.       Save your emotional energy for the visitors with whom you feel a natural rapport. Be pleasant and polite to everyone else, but don't stress yourself out trying to get contact information from them.

If you've done a good job preparing for your open house and you choose your targets wisely, you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that many visitors will initiate further contact with you. Either they'll offer up their contact information voluntarily or they'll ask for yours.

If this isn't happening, it's not because you aren't aggressive enough, clever enough or sly enough to coerce those names and numbers from your visitors. So if you want to beat yourself up over the "effectiveness" of your open houses, don't go there. Focus instead on how you can better demonstrate to your visitors that you are the guy or gal they're looking for.

 

*None of this should be construed to contradict my opinion that open houses are held primarily for the SELLER's benefit, not the agent's. The owner of the home you're holding open expects you to be first and foremost trying to sell his home, not hungrily prospecting for leads for yourself. To read a practical implication of this philosophy, refer to Susan Haughton's comment on the previous blog

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Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Stanley Stepak 12/04/2010 03:31 PM
  2. Steve Davis 12/04/2010 03:52 PM
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Rainmaker
118,087
Kevin Kauffman
Group 4610 Network - Tempe, AZ
Kevin Kauffman

Great post... Open houses seem to be a lost art in our market. 

My business partner and I have challenged our buyer's agents with the tasks of doing more purposfull open houses and so far the results are great... ....

Nov 21, 2010 02:16 AM #34
Ambassador
1,023,277
Margaret Woda
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. - Crofton, MD
Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation

Open house is something I haven't done in years, but I never had any trouble getting visitors to register.  I just put out a Guest Book, entered 2 visitors before anyone came (no one wants to be first), and asked if they'd mind registering to let me know how they found out about the open house.  They almost always filled out their current address and phone number, and I always gave them a nice folder of information about other current listings and recent sales in the neighborhood.  They were eager and happy to accept the information and my business card (except that I did not provide that information to anyone who indicated they already had an agent).

Nov 21, 2010 04:30 AM #35
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3,676,945
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Jennifer, this is a great post!  I happen to think that Open Houses are a wonderful prospecting opportunity.  

Nov 21, 2010 04:42 AM #36
Rainmaker
516,963
John Elwell
CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc. - Zephyrhills, FL
You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results

In our area openhouses get you nothing. No one comes, no matter what you do or how you advertise. They are just not popular. We have done them over and over, and I have yet to hear of any of them getting more than a couple of lookers and not real qualified buyers.

When buyers can enter exact search criteria into engines on a number of sites, they can home in on properties that meet their requirements. Just popping in on a home on a Sunday afternoon is inefficient for them. The price could be too high, the rooms not large enough, etc.

And getting a list of visitors that will be very short is not helpful. In most cases they (and I would do the same) are reluctant to give out information since they know that in many cases they will be bombarded with either calls or e-mails.

Nope, here the openhouse (except perhaps for the agents' tours) is dead as a doornail. Unless, of course, you have three hours you want to waste sitting in an empty property with no cars pulling in the driveway.

But we are a large country, and in other areas they may work well. In that case, more power to you and best of luck.

Nov 21, 2010 06:45 AM #37
Rainmaker
571,718
Bill Gillhespy
16 Sunview Blvd - Fort Myers Beach, FL
Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos

Hi Jennifer,  A great reminder and, as usual, so well written.  I've found that asking for contact info is not nearly as effective as offering to stay in touch by email - and then stop talking.

Nov 21, 2010 07:34 AM #38
Rainer
355,740
Nina Rogoff
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Medfield, MA
Sells Real Estate!

Jennifer, great post and great reminder to relax and focus on sharing our expertise. Those who connect with us will want to have us be in touch. When I first started in real estate and conducted my first open houses (usually for other people's listings) I had no idea what to do. I worked hard to greet and converse with everyone. It was exhausting. Now, I try to give people the highlights and ask them if they'd like to go through the house on their own, or with me. I always tell them to ask me any questions they think of while walking around. I love Shantee's idea of postcards...rather than just business cards. Several of my sales have come from open houses so I am a firm believer in them!

Nov 21, 2010 08:32 AM #39
Rainer
332,782
Irene Kennedy Realtor® in Northwestern NJ
Weichert - Lopatcong, NJ

Jennifer,

Had a Saturday Open yesterday, unusual but had decent turnout.  My flyer on FREE PHOTOS WITH SANTA stopped them all cold - parents and grandparents alike.  The house wasn't right for those guests but I made a higher number of appointments.  All asked me to call them with a reminder about Santa.  Proves your point - don't just push the house!

Nov 21, 2010 09:29 AM #40
Rainmaker
42,632
Teri Deane
RE/MAX 100 - Columbia, MD
Realtor, ABR, CRS, SFR - The Deane Team

As I'm reading your post I'm thinking to myself how well written it is and then I get to the bottom and realize that it's by the author of Sell with Soul!  I have your wonderful book and it is a must-read for anyone in real estate sales.  Thanks for a great post :-)

Nov 21, 2010 01:25 PM #41
Rainmaker
394,850
Elizabeth Cooper-Golden
Huntsville Alabama Real Estate, (@ Homes Realty Group) - Huntsville, AL
Huntsville AL MLS

Jennifer, You are such a wonderful writer and always share great information.  I love you upbeat tone, always :)  I'm going to send this link to my new Rookie agent!  I think he'll enjoy it :)  

Nov 21, 2010 01:42 PM #42
Rainer
174,571
Betsy Schuman Dodek
Washington Fine Properties - Washington DC Area Real Estate - Potomac, MD
SearchPotomacHomes.com

Great points and reminders! I had many lookieloos today that were not qualified to purchase the house. Some were unfriendly and some were very friendly???

Nov 21, 2010 01:44 PM #43
Rainer
40,746
Buki Burke
Ventura, California - Ventura, CA
(805)377-0236, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services CA

Love your post. It's pretty much the approach I like to use. It's really our knowledge that we have which is of most value to them. One liitle tip on holding open houses that has been effective for me is to provide a lot of extra information to the visitor. I like to have a large bulletin board with photos of the neighborhood, other listings, maps, and of course detailed information on the house I am holding open. It's a good way to get people who are interested into conversation.

Nov 21, 2010 02:26 PM #44
Rainer
40,746
Buki Burke
Ventura, California - Ventura, CA
(805)377-0236, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services CA

Love your post. It's pretty much the approach I like to use. It's really our knowledge that we have which is of most value to them. One liitle tip on holding open houses that has been effective for me is to provide a lot of extra information to the visitor. I like to have a large bulletin board with photos of the neighborhood, other listings, maps, and of course detailed information on the house I am holding open. It's a good way to get people who are interested into conversation.

Nov 21, 2010 02:26 PM #45
Rainer
36,078
Melanie Thompson
Mortgage Equity Team - Lynchburg, VA
Registered Mortgage Advisor

Great post! I feel the same way about those seeking a mortgage. There are some who I can engage in conversation and some that I cannot. I spend my time with those who engage. #44 - great open house idea!

Nov 22, 2010 03:14 AM #46
Rainer
69,054
Robert Courtney
Lihue, HI
Century 21 All Islands, RA, CDPE, MCRE, CIAS

Jennifer - I have strayed away from Open Houses for some of the reasons you talked about.  It makes sense to be there as a source of information for not only that home, but for homes in our area.  I will dust my signs off and go at this source of marketing with a new frame of mind.  Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Nov 22, 2010 04:20 AM #47
Ambassador
1,541,335
William Johnson
Retired - La Jolla, CA
Retired Real Estate Professional

Hi Jennifer, very good points. I believe strongly in " Permission based marketing" . I have a very simple concept. I ask to earn the right to represent people when the times comes. I invite them to give me their information by first giving them mine through my information based website ( blog). Many like this and know that I will not abuse the privilege. Thus far it has worked very well.

Nov 22, 2010 10:12 AM #48
Rainmaker
2,394,954
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

I like that SW, SW, SW, next! I have not heard that before.  You can lead them to water but you can't make them drink.  However, I have always had good luck because I tell them I am going to send them a thank you card for viewing the home.  So they walk right over and sign in...

Nov 22, 2010 02:53 PM #49
Rainmaker
484,257
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Thanks for so many MORE great comments! I'm so glad this hit a nerve with so many. And I promise you - open houses are way more fun when you RELAX.

Elizabeth - I drove thru Huntsville yesterday and waved at you!

Nov 23, 2010 04:40 AM #50
Rainmaker
1,317,551
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

This is a very well thought out post and one which really matches reality.  I like this thought >>>   "Save your emotional energy for the visitors with whom you feel a natural rapport. Be pleasant and polite to everyone else, but don't stress yourself out trying to get contact information from them. "... it is priceless.

Dec 04, 2010 03:47 PM #51
Rainer
125,916
Chiara Petro
eXp Realty - Angie Cody Team - Knoxville, TN
Your KEY to Home Sweet Home - Knoxville TN

I've been reading Jennifers books, and this weekend followed her advice on Open Houses, as I was holding this open for another agent. For the first time (in my short history as an agent), I did not ask people to sign in at all.  I talked to them, found out their needs and desires and offered them the opportunity to receive the additional information they desired. Out of the 6 groups that visited, 4 offered ME their contact information, and 3 of those folks were interested in the house I was holding open. (Jennifer, I forgot to tell you that part) In fact, I could not write down their contact information fast enough for them!

We're told that Knowledge is Power, but the other side of that equation that makes this all work is, How you present and offer that knowledge.

This was a huge step for me, the second big step in the right direction in as many weeks, all from following Jennifer's advice and tweaking it to my personality.

Aug 01, 2011 04:27 AM #52
Rainer
118,683
Karen Salmon
Royal LePage Benchmark - Okotoks, AB
Okotoks Real Estate Agent

I have had TWO people recently contact me and buy a home through me that took my card and didn't leave their contact info. It can happen!

Oct 28, 2011 01:57 PM #53
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Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn

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