Don’t be the Little Orphan Annie of the Broker Open House World

Mortgage and Lending

Don’t be the Little Orphan Annie of the Broker Open House World


The broker open house for many listing agents is a great way to get their newly listed property out there to the real estate world. We all know the importance of having other agents see the property to increase the chance to match up the perfect buyer and the perfect home. From my experience over the past couple of years is that the main draw to the broker open house seems to be the lunch. Usually the listing agent will call upon their loan officer to orchestrate the lunch menu and pay for the food. We loan officers, being the suckers that we are for the attention of Realtors, we get the best sandwiches and salads hoping to make a good impression with the local agents.

Now let’s thing about that; I’m hoping that my lunch will impress the agents and perhaps I can build up my referral base.


After dropping some nice coin on a few of these events and getting nothing but a large trash bag to bring home I started to re-think my strategy. I was beginning to feel like the exploited little Orphan Annie and the agents were all Mrs. Hannigans. Let’s get this mortgage bozo for our broker open house he brings the best food. So I changed some things up.


The Open House is About the Property but I can Share the Spotlight


Don’t bring a heavy lunch: Heavy food makes agents tired and less willing to talk

Bring marketing material: Show the agents the wide range of mortgage products you offer 

Set up a seminar: Educating agents about different types of renovation loans can increase their presence in the market place and their bottom line 

Dress appropriately: I don’t need the suspenders and three piece suit if it’s a $150,000 listing 

Ask to help: I love to ask agents “how can I add value to your business” bring something else to the table then just a great lunch 

I have been utilizing some of these tactics for the open houses and it seems to be helping me cultivate some new relationships. Regardless of the lunch bill it’s such a great opportunity to have some many agents in one place. I now consider the lunch an investment in my professional development instead of an attempt to make a great culinary impression.

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John B. Saari


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Keith Pentz
RE/MAX ADVANTAGE 1 - Shrewsbury, MA
Keith Pentz

Good post John!  I like the color!  I have had broker opens where the Realtor introduces me to EVERY Realtor they know and promote me and my business..have had plenty of the opposite as well! 

Mar 01, 2011 11:02 AM #4
John Saari
Worcester, MA
"The Mortgage Buddy"

Thanks for the comments everyone. It's all about maximizing the opportunites in front of you.

Mar 01, 2011 11:22 AM #5
David Rocheford

Great post John. Agents and business partners often overlook the true value of a BOH.  Sure it is about the property, and the listing agent can get a lot of useful feedback for the listing, but it is about building the relationships too.  Right on.  Would love to post this on our blog.

Mar 01, 2011 01:41 PM #6
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

John I have done several Broker Opens in the past, but here in Connecticut we have to be careful on how it is done.  Both the Realtor and the Loan Officer have to share equally in the expense, so that we don't risk being in violation of RESPA.  That was brought to our attention while taking classes for the National Licensing test.

Mar 01, 2011 02:25 PM #7
Anthony Daniels
Coldwell Banker - San Francisco, CA
SF Bay Area REO Specialist

Lunch at a broker's open?  Not for me.  I know agents that plan their day around where they're gonna get some free vittles.  I let my lockbox handle those for me whenever possible.

Mar 01, 2011 05:58 PM #8
Melody Russell
eXp Realty - Scotts Valley, CA
Ranked as 1 of the top selling agents in SC County

Interesting that your agent partners ask you to buy lunch. Find agent success partners who want to develp relationships with you and who want a win-win circle of excellence referral system and forget the lunch.  It is really about relationships and the home for sale not food. When you provide free lunch the agents with no biz who want free food will show up. Most successful agents are holding open their own broker tour so better to travel the tour and meet all the agents who have the listings as they are the agents who control the market.

Mar 01, 2011 07:23 PM #9
Kathy Smiley
Rodeo Realty ~ Fine Estates Westlake Village - Westlake Village, CA
Westlake Village, CA - "Making YOU Smile!"

John, holding a brokers open tomorrow at Wish you were there!

Mar 01, 2011 08:03 PM #10
Richard Iarossi
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Crofton, MD
Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate


Around here they seem to be spotty if they aren't associated with another event, like an office meeting. Even for a free lunch, most agents aren't willing to make the time. I do like your partnering arrangement.


Mar 01, 2011 10:04 PM #11
Elizabeth Byrne
Keller Williams Realty - Arlington, VA
Arlington Virginia Real Estate

John, I agree, lunch should not be a key attraction of a brokers open. I love your idea of educating realtors, instead of feeding them. Being well informed will increase our chance of providing an excellent service to our clients. Great post.

Mar 01, 2011 10:34 PM #12
Irene Kennedy Realtor® in Northwestern NJ
Weichert - Lopatcong, NJ


I stopped spending on lunches when I found absolutely NO return. (For example, none of those agents ever booked a showing, although they loved my food!)  Can't say I'd be inclined to try a new loan officer because he paid for the lunch, so I'm glad you're reassessing this investment!

Mar 02, 2011 12:14 AM #13
Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES
Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch! - Spring Hill, FL
Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living

John, I think it's a great idea to bring your literature, in fact, if you are part of the open house event and spend your time, you should.  Many agents, myself included, would probably appreciate some updated insight into different mortgage products. 

Mar 02, 2011 12:26 AM #14
Jim Courtney
OklaHomes Realty, Claremore Oklahoma - Claremore, OK

Broker's Opens are a big thing in our area. It is amazing how many don't ask thier favorite lender to participate. I ALWAYS have my particular lender provide lunch but mostly because I don't cook. I would encourage more lenders to do the BO as well AND to speak up. During my last BO, the lender did a very nice 2 minute presentation on his company's new programs. He picked up a couple of new agents & buyers from this 2 minutes. Brokers Opens work for lenders too! :)

Mar 02, 2011 12:51 AM #15
Teral McDowell
Referral Patners LLC - Murphy, TX

I like the idea of having information on-hand especially the info on different options available; thanks, John.

Mar 02, 2011 04:36 AM #16
Mitchell J Hall
The Corcoran Group - Manhattan, NY
Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn

Our broker Opens are part of tours that are very specific. Different neighborhoods on different days and tours of very specific properties and price ranges. 3 bedeoms + with park views, or 1 bedrooms with outdoor space. One broker OH serves lunch (catered by a lender) and one broker OH serves dessert (catered by a lender)The properties on the tour are within walking distance.

I always thought it would be better for a lender to attend my public open houses since so many buyers come that don't have an agent, or a lender yet and are not even pre-qualified. I guess lenders don't work on Sundays so I give out their cards and financial sheets they've prepared for my listing with several financing options.

BTW: My mortgage was with Home Savings of America it became Washington Mutual, then Chase.

Mar 02, 2011 04:39 AM #17
Diana Mehnert
Coldwell Banker Harris McHaney & Faucette - Bella Vista, AR

We usually split the cost three ways..... The Realtors, a Closing/Title company, and a  Lender.  Drinks, light lunch or brunch, and a sweet treat. Some times a drawing for a gift/gas card.  We get huge crowds when there is a drawing for a gift.

Mar 02, 2011 06:25 AM #18
John Howard
Century 21 LeMac Realty - Mountain Home, AR
GRI, Mountain Home, Arkansas 870-404-3614

John, Thanks for your post...I actually had not thought of getting help with a brokers open house...can be a win/win situation for all!

Mar 02, 2011 06:36 AM #19
Mike Mayer
Mike Mayer, Broker/Owner - i List For Less Realty, LLC - Lafayette, LA

I'm still amazed that the "real" draw for a Broker Open tends to be food and/or a cash drawing. However, my sellers foot the costs.

As a side note - I found the lavender text a bit small to read.

Mar 02, 2011 06:52 AM #20
David Artigliere
Reading, Pottstown, Norristown, Philadelphia - Collegeville, PA
ARTI Home Inspections, ASHI Certified Home Inspect

Great post and interesting insight into the world of Open Houses. 

Mar 02, 2011 07:55 AM #21
Keith Pentz
RE/MAX ADVANTAGE 1 - Shrewsbury, MA
Keith Pentz

John- congrats on being featured!  The post also solidifies that we need to have a handul of trusted Realtor partners.  We only have 24 hours in our days like everyone else!

Mar 02, 2011 10:36 PM #22
Jamie Woods
Home Savings of America - Hudson, NH


Some helpful pointers on marketing materials for broker opens. Do up a few dozen color flyers featuring the property itself. Take fifteen minutes to work with your Realtor buddy on this. Ask to use their best photo, which is usually the primary listing photo. Then make four columns beneath it. Each column features a loan program and its basic features bullet pointed and the loan payment calculated. Example, determine if its USDA eligible then calculate a PITI using a 102 LTV loan at today's going rate, do the same hypothecating VA loan and then calculate a PITI for an 97.5 LTV FHA loan as well as conventional at 80 LTV. Of course use ur disclaimer (for approved applicants, inquire for more). So there'll be four loan options with payments already closely approximated: Such as 0 down and $1688/mo, 3.5% down and $1544/mo, etc. Make sure the flyer contains ur business card, of course. Place these flyers in the area where the other agents drop their cards. Its a conversation starter and allows you to further elaborate on each option. You can elaborate further when discussion occurs, such as minimum FICO scores required for each, how long they take to get done, etc. It will show your resourcefulness as well as your true eagerness to be an asset to your Realtor team mates. Remember: you're there to help him or her sell that property, not to fetch referrals from sandwich platters! Also, if you want some easy but delightful crockpot soup recipes I'd be happy to share them with you. A Mexican 5 Bean soup, some cornbread, chips and sour cream and paper utensils only cost about $20.00 and really wows them, too.

Good post and best wishes in your continued success!

- Jamie

Mar 03, 2011 01:38 AM #23
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