Unsoulful Attitude #1: "Open Houses are Great for Picking up Buyers!"

By
Education & Training with Sell with Soul

 

"The Only Reason Agents Hold Open Houses is to Prospect For Buyers"

Yes, this may very well be true. That doesn't always make it right.

One of the first prospecting techniques new agents learn is how to "pick up buyers" at open houses. Agents are urged to be on high alert for open house visitors who don't already have a buyer representative. Pushing sign-in sheets and personal brochures, agents strive to make their open house "productive" by walking away with a fistful of names and numbers of potential buyers who dropped by. The more contacts an agent makes at an open house, the more successful it was.

But aren't we forgetting something? Or someone? Your seller client, perhaps?

Remember that you are in that home to sell that home. That is your first obligation. Put yourself in the seller's shoes - he or she is excited about your open house and is imagining that you are enthusiastically marketing all the special features of the home - not hungrily trying to build your business. Imagine that the seller is watching you with a hidden video camera (who knows...?) . Don't do anything the seller wouldn't approve of.

Once I showed up at an open house with color printouts from the MLS of other comparable homes for sale. Of course, I was planning to share these printouts with interested visitors to demonstrate my expertise in the market, as well as my willingness to show and sell other homes besides the one I was holding open. The seller saw my printouts and was horrified. It had never occurred to her that I wasn't there solely for her benefit, and frankly, it hadn't occurred to me that this might bother her. But of course it did. Right or wrong, sellers put a lot of stock in your open house and they truly expect the offers to be rolling in by 4:05 pm.

So don't make the rookie mistake of trying to talk to visitors about other homes while they're still taking in the details of this one. Any attempt you make to lead potential buyers away from the home you're holding open would certainly be interpreted with displeasure from your sellers, should they happen to overhear you. If a visitor truly is not interested in the home you're holding open and seems open to hearing about other properties in the area, by all means, offer to help. But not at the expense of other visitors who might be interested in finding out more about your open house.

Something that might help keep you honest (besides the possibility of a hidden camera!) is to remember that some of your visitors may be observing your behavior to evaluate you as a potential listing agent for their home, should they decide to sell. If they see you aggressively marketing yourself and not the home you're holding open, they may decide you are not the right person to sell their home.

Another area of confusion and conflict when holding open houses is when a visitor announces that she already has a buyer agent. This is especially disconcerting to the agent who is not the listing agent of the home, but is simply holding it open FOR the listing agent. Yes, you still need to graciously market the home to this represented buyer. Show her around, politely answer her questions and, if you sense real interest, please don't fuss that you're "wasting your time" on someone who isn't going to become your client. Every once in a while, you might even get to write an offer for a represented buyer, if the buyer is anxious and can't wait for her agent to come back from vacation.

Open houses can certainly be a source of business for you and if handled respectfully, no one will object to your prospecting efforts. Just remember to always put your client first, and everyone wins.

http://www.sellwithsoul.com/

copyright Jennifer Allan 2007

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Rainmaker
599,945
Jim Lee
RE/MAX Shoreline - Portsmouth, NH
Portsmouth NH Realtor, Portsmouth, NH

Great blog Jennifer; people that do open house need to remember their obligations to their sellers and try to sell the house they've been hired to sell before trying to turn visitors into prospects for other listings.

I've always thought this practice stunk a lot.

After all, how in good conscience can you say: "Mr. Seller, I'm going to have an open house and get this house sold for you." on one hand and out of the other side of your mouth you say to a open house visitor "Yep, this one needs a lot of work and is overpriced but I've got this sweet little 3 bedroom......................."

During an initial listing appoitment I go over the things I won't be doing and explain why to my sellers.

Public open houses are first on the list followed by no newspaper ads. After you explain the reasons why most of my sellers are glad to not have a public open house.

I do thing open houses during the week for your fellow Realtors can be effective and you if serve some snacks or a light lunch you'll usually get a big turnout.

Jan 12, 2007 01:20 AM #5
Rainer
29,476
Shari George
Coldwell Banker Tomlinson - Lewiston, ID

I received an offer from my open house last Sunday...It was accepted Yesterday...

I recieved a call from my partner,Katy while I was doing my 2nd open house last Sunday.  She said that a couple is at her open and said that they were late getting to the one I had earlier that day. Katy asked if I wouldn't mind going back to my earlier showing to let the couple look at our listing...They wrote an offer the next day!! 

I know many open houses go buy without a sell, but who knows, when the home does receive an offer who is to say that this person didn't stop by your showing?  They were working with an agent, liked your listing, but just had not made up their minds yet? 

Homes do sell from open houses, and yes, agents get unattached buyers as well..

It's a win-win situation..

I LOVE OPEN HOUSES!!

Jan 12, 2007 02:26 AM #6
Rainer
239,784
Mark Miller
Cascade Sotheby's International Realty - Lake Oswego, OR
Client-Focused Representation in All Price Ranges

I appreciate what Jennifer has to say about doing an "open house" and find that it also rings true in my experience.  We make commitments and promises to our sellers when we are asking for their listing and they should expect us to do our best to sell their home during the open house.

My approach is low key...no sign-in required, just a friendly smile and a thank-you for stopping by.  If they ask questions, I give them answers.  I have had quite a few people call me after an open house and ask for help.

Keep up the good posts.

Jan 19, 2007 09:36 AM #7
Rainmaker
599,945
Jim Lee
RE/MAX Shoreline - Portsmouth, NH
Portsmouth NH Realtor, Portsmouth, NH

Public open houses are the biggest waste of time orgainized real estate has ever come up with.

Having said the above I also sold an open house at the open house...........................once......................................about 20 years ago.

And if I still had them I would expect to sell another one sometime.

However we need to not forget our seller clients who own the house we have open and who are depending on us to get it sold. Is using their house to pick up other buyers really doing the right thing by them???

Not having public open houses is one of the things I tell my seller we're not going to do during the listing interview. Most of them are releived and glad we're not going to do that.

The ones that insist on having them can hold their own or find another listing agent.

Jan 20, 2007 08:36 AM #8
Ambassador
602,901
Lizette Fitzpatrick
Lizette Realty - Richmond KY - Lexington, KY
Lizette Realty, Lexington KY MLS - Kentucky Homes
Yes, I will be doing an open house tomorrow. I guess it's more of a courtesy to my sellers that they see me actually do something other than list it on 180 websites.
Mar 16, 2007 06:58 AM #9
Anonymous
Karen_Rice

I think the success (or not) of Open Houses really depends on the area in which you work.  In my area, agents are generally not very gung-ho over Open Houses and claim limited succsess (though I do see a few agencies with open houses occasionally.)

 

Mar 16, 2007 11:57 AM #10
Rainmaker
1,514,127
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County

Jennifer, the most important words you said to me were "... is to remember that some of your visitors may be observing your behavior to evaluate you as a potential listing agent for their home, should they decide to sell." I never thought of it in that light. Sure, Open Houses are for the benefit of the Realtor but I hold Open Houses to sell the property that day. Of course that is not something that happens very often yet it is still the goal. I do advise sellers that very few homes sell during an open house but in a buyer's market it doesn't hurt to get the exposure. I am on my way to another Open House now. My sellers are out of town residents so they will never see me there. But that is OK because I know I am working for my sellers!

Mar 17, 2007 03:15 AM #11
Rainmaker
371,379
Dana Hollish Hill
Hollish Hill Group, KW Capital Properties - Bethesda, MD
Lead Associate Broker

Interesting. I'm not sure if it's because I'm an exclusive buyer's agent, but so many of my clients tell me that they send testers to their open houses. Whether it is family or friends, they say they try to see how the agent at the Open House responds to a variety of questions.

My favorite comment is one I hear often. "I hate it when an agent spends more time trying to figure out if I have a home to sell rather than telling me the benefits of the home I'm standing in"

Maybe the reason the success rate for some Open Houses is so low is because the agents doing them are not trying to sell the home that is open. I just know that many of my clients use Open Houses to see a home they like for a second time - often with friends in order to get a second opinion.

 

Mar 17, 2007 04:31 PM #12
Rainmaker
484,157
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Always remember... Big Brother (or Darling Seller) is watching you...

Mar 18, 2007 12:45 AM #13
Rainer
16,805
Heather Armstrong
Skogman Realty - Cedar Rapids, IA

I find this interesting.  I have been saying this for years and sellers always seem to know it, but it's the agents that I talk to that seem resistant.  I do have an occassional open house, but I am always up front with the seller that I while I will do everything that I can to promote their home, most houses (in my experience ONLY) don't sell at the open house.  BUT, I do believe that the exposure can be beneficial because sometimes relatives (mom & dad) or friends are out looking and call the buyer to let them know what they saw.

I don't use a sign-in either.  People are resistant to it and I don't want them to be uncomfortable while they're looking around.  I have still gotten many clients to call me after an open house and many times they say it was because I was friendly and they didn't feel pressured. 

Thanks for the information everyone!

Mar 18, 2007 06:59 AM #14
Rainer
26,535
Edith Wharton
Cottage and Loft Realty - Midlothian, VA
Realtor - Chesterfield VA

This was a great blog! It's the truth , if your going to hold an open house, the seller expects you to sell their home first. Then if the opportunity arises to prospect for future clients last. I have not held an open house yet, but I know if it were my own house, I would want my agent to sell my home first and sell themselves last.

May 14, 2007 04:06 AM #15
Anonymous
Bill Saunders

Now I am new to all this. What happens when a still-timely blog about open houses stops being commented on? It seems to have been more than a year, and I was wondering if viewpoints may have changed with the changes in the market since 2007?

I really enjoy reading all of the experienced agents' comments, and deeply appreciate the insights gained by years of experience and success. It makes me think and readjust. I figure I would pre-maturely share the absolute beginings of an introvert-agent's independent study of FSBO's. Again, it is just starting, but my question to these people that are NOT using an agent to sell their possibly largest investment is, "why?".

So far 50% have stated that they feel real estate agents are lazy and sit back and let either the sign or the internet try to do all the work. They seem to equate "work" with open houses, which to them is visible and tangible, regardless of the calling, photography, staging, and entering of data and info on your mls, etc. The behind the scenes hard work is not visible (especially when some agents do not communicate often what they are doing). I get a bit (well, more than a bit) frustrated with other agents I am associated with, because I have offered numerous times to "sit" an open house for them...no takers, and yet no one is holding open houses in the office.

Again, thanks to all you folks for the free training, and especially you, Jennifer.

Jan 28, 2009 02:44 AM #16
Rainmaker
484,157
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

HI Bill! Welcome to "all of this!" I'm not sure what happens either when you comment on an older blog, but we'll see, won't we?

I'm currently writing a blog that you'll like... stay tuned!

Jan 28, 2009 03:16 AM #17
Anonymous
Bill Saunders

Jennifer, I really like everything I read!!! I just can't read fast enough!

Jan 30, 2009 09:45 AM #18
Rainer
78,096
Bill Saunders, Realtor®
Meyers Realty - Hot Springs, AR
www.BillSellsHotSprings.com

I work slowly on the fsbo's and the data is all about commission savings...i'll keep you posted if anyone is interested (which does not seem to be the case :)  ). This underscores the previous comment in that I feel that "we" do not "appear" to do enough for our commissions...regardless of what a given agent actually does. There is a LOT of work behind the scenes that buyers and sellers do not see, much less the general public(=future clients). We worry about the difficulty of trying to handle opjections about a stigmatized property or neighborhood while we seem to ignor the possibility that the value of our service is in a sense stigmatized in certain circles.

I still think though that the visible nature of an open house is important. I can't remember the exact stats in the statement, and these may be off a little, but the average satisified customer tells 3 people about your product/service, while the average dis-satisfied customer tells 11. That of itself is very important when related to the all important referral. The dissatisfied customer tells 3 times as many people...and because it is a negative news blurb, how many people that recieved this negative news tell...

Still, I am a newbie to all this...what do I know :)

Feb 01, 2009 11:38 PM #19
Rainmaker
599,945
Jim Lee
RE/MAX Shoreline - Portsmouth, NH
Portsmouth NH Realtor, Portsmouth, NH

Bill, people won't know aht you do for them unless you tell them.

I have a written marketing plan I go over with my sellers listing exactly what I do for them.

I do the same with buyers, giving them a buyer's notebook I get from REBAC, explain agency, ask them to sign a buyer agency agreement, get them pre-approved, and some other things.

I personally do not do public open houses because I think they are a huge waste of time to sell a particular house.

Feb 02, 2009 12:01 AM #20
Rainmaker
484,157
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Bill - I did a series on Open Houses last year - if you're interested in more of my ramblings on the topic... here's a link to the first one: http://activerain.com/blogsview/469380/No-Open-Houses-are-NOT-a-Waste-of-Time

Feb 02, 2009 12:09 AM #21
Rainer
78,096
Bill Saunders, Realtor®
Meyers Realty - Hot Springs, AR
www.BillSellsHotSprings.com

Thanks folks. Jim, I can see how many agents think that. But right now I have the time, and I think anything I do to get my name out there, or mySELF out there without spending any more $$$ is a good thing. Sounds like you have a good pipeline going, way to go! Did the packets you mentioned come from designation training? I have to get a little more capital in the pot before I look into those.

Jennifer, thanks. I will definitely look at it.

I posted this before and didn't type in the graphic thingy...I hope this isn't a seond post, if so, sorry.

Thanks guys.

Feb 05, 2009 11:45 PM #22
Rainer
239,784
Mark Miller
Cascade Sotheby's International Realty - Lake Oswego, OR
Client-Focused Representation in All Price Ranges

Top producing agents in our area do open houses; both for Tuesday Broker Tour and for the public on Sundays.  There are a few I visit that are inspiring as to what they do during their open house.  There's one, that if it's quiet, is scrolling through her phone calling contacts making short calls "hi Sue I was thinking about you and that time we were looking at homes and xxxx, xxxx. Oh! I've got to let you go, I'm doing an open house and someone is walking up the drive."

Another always has her yellow legal pad with names, notes and she's calling her contacts, usually letting them know about properties for sale in a stealth manner "Hey John...the island in the lake just went on the market, 19.5 million dollars.  Can you believe that?  How's things at Nike?  I know you're busy so I'll let you go"

Another calls her contacts before the open house and lets them know she's holding a really nice home open Sunday that they would probably enjoy seeing.

Feb 23, 2009 04:31 AM #23
Ambassador
589,365
Julie Chapman
DR Horton - Lakeland, FL
New Homes Sales Lakeland Florida

I have 10 or 11 pending sales that will show their advertising origin as being open house signs.....I think it says it all.....they work for buyers, sellers and Realtors.....

Mar 10, 2009 11:56 AM #24
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