"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.
copyright Jennifer Allan 2007