The Modern Realtor’s Guide to Holding Open Houses (That Actually Work)

How I Know Open Houses Work

Being in the business since high school, I’ve always somewhat known the power of holding open houses but I didn’t really respect them. That didn’t happen for at least 2 years. Up until the big a-ha moment, I mainly did open houses to please my sellers but I pretty much wrote them off as a 2-hour time slot for me to catch up on some admin work.

It was around then I really started looking at my real estate sales job as a business and started respecting my value and my time. I went from trying to please my sellers to actually pleasing my sellers and generating a ton of business for myself in the process.

After years of experimenting on almost every lead generation channel, I always come back to open houses for the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to generating new leads and building your pipeline.

The 3 Types of Open House Visitors

After hundreds of open houses, I’ve found that people who stop by an open house usually fall under 1 of 3 categories.

  1. Real Buyers w/No Agent  – Exactly what we’re looking for.
  2. Real Buyers w/a Bad Agent  – Who sends buyers to open houses?
  3. The Nosy Neighbor  – Can be your best friend or your worst enemy.

Let’s break it down

Real Buyers w/No Agent

These are real buyers who  **actually want to buy a house ** and were probably driving and saw an open house sign and stopped because they really don’t even know where to start. How would they? It’s pretty complicated and you don’t buy real estate every day. Another tell-tale sign is that as Realtors we know that going to open houses is not the ideal way of shopping for houses.

That’s why I consider this raising their hands and asking for help. We know that buying a home is a huge purchase and usually the most important one in a person’s life. This presents an opportunity to come from contribution and educate people. Don’t sell, or pitch people. Educate them. Really help them and you will earn their business.

Ask quality questions, be transparent and most of all, be helpful.

Real Buyers w/a Bad Agent

You don’t even need to take a different strategy than the buyers with no agent, except for focusing on differentiating yourself from most agents (ie: their agent).

The Nosy Neighbor

If you’re lucky to get a nosy neighbor in your door, don’t stress too much but just keep in mind that they have the ability to boost your business in the community. These are the people who have lived in the neighborhood for 20+ years and know everyone on the street and know all the gossip in the neighborhood.

They’re usually talkers too.

The reason that these nosy neighbors hold such much influence is simple. Over the years they’ve seen a lot of homes get listed, sold, expire and flipped. They’ve also seen a lot of agents.

Their average perception of a realtor is someone who drives a Mercedes and comes in and puts a big sign in the yard with their face on it and collects a huge commission check.They never really see open houses done but when they do, that agent might do it once and they go inside and check it out and that’s that.

The agent never reaches out, sends a thank you letter or updates her to let her know what the house sold for.

Do you see how you can set yourself apart from the competition and secure a raving fan who can tell everyone at the next HOA meeting that they met a great Realtor who had an awesome open house and was so helpful and sent them a handwritten thank you card…

You can’t buy that kind of advertising.

Open House Planning & Prep

I’ve heard every limiting belief in the book when I talk with agents who have unsuccessful open houses but the one common denominator is a failure to execute a plan. That and they don’t even have a plan or their plan consists of posting the open house on the MLS the day before and putting out a couple signs around the corner from the house.

Ideally, if you’re planning a Saturday open house, then your planning should begin the Monday before. So almost a full week.

Open House Countdown Checklist

3 Days Before:

  1. Confirm date and time with seller/listing agent!
  2. Set open house in HAR
  3. Print a map of the neighborhood surrounding the property (3 mi radius)
  4. Mark on a map where you will place signs.
  5. Secure 10 directional signs
  6. Print 50 Open House flyers
  7. Print 50 property info flyers

2 Days Before:

  1. Knock on 50 doors around the property to invite neighbors to “Special Neighbor Preview” 30 minutes before open house start time. (Leave a flyer)
  2. Advertise the open house on Craigslist
  3. Compile info on alternative relevant properties. Print 5 copies of each
  4. Print 2 blank contracts (just in case for a motivated buyer)
  5. Print 50 guest sign-in sheets
  6. Put together “Home Info Booklet” to display, including:
    1. Property photo cover page
    2. Details of property
    3. Utilities & upgrades info page
    4. Tax information
    5. Survey of lot (if you have it)
    6. Floor plans (if you have it)
    7. School Information
    8. Community Information

Pro-Tip: For your Home Info Booklet use ListReports to print out beautiful informative pre-designed open house reports on good paper.

1 Day Before:

Pick up 10 balloons (red, white and blue)
Pick up 2 bottles of champagne and orange juice
Pick up water bottles

Day of Open House:

Place directional signs where decided on map
Secure balloons to yard sign
Setup guest sign in sheet
Setup mimosas and/or snacks on kitchen counter

Wrapping Up

For the ultimate course on holding open houses that actually make you money, check out my course Open Houses That Work by clicking the image below!

open houses that work course

Spencer Logan

Spencer is our Director of Agent Services and also resident tech guru. After a brief career at Apple, Spencer found his calling helping agents work smarter, not harder.
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