Last week’s post was all about how to get people to attend your Open House. I promised I would come back and tell you what to do with all of those people once they showed up! So grab your reading glasses and Settle Down for this.
Open House = Open Door
You have put so much work into marketing and promoting your open house. So, make sure that when they arrive they feel comfortable enough to come in. Arrive early to set up, turn on all the lights, play some soft music and put a bunch of balloons right out front with a sign and a giant arrow inviting people in. Imagine doing all that promotional work and set up only to have a dark house with a closed door greet people when they arrive. Sounds crazy, right? But I’ve heard horror stories of buyers showing up, having to knock on a door and then no agent was even there! No one should ever have to knock to get in. Open means OPEN. Leave that door ajar, except in the coldest of weather. In that case, print out a professional looking sign to hang on the door which tells people to come on in…
…and greet them warmly when they do!
Treat attendees like guests in your home. Say hello. Smile. Tell them your name and put out a hand to shake. Whether this person is a buyer or not, they ARE a person. And they came out of their house and walked into yours. Make them feel comfortable and welcome- because they are.
Don’t forget to be in compliance.
Make sure you provide any disclosures that your state requires. In PA that is the Consumer Notice and Seller’s Disclosure, as well as your contact information with your broker office included.
OPEN HOUSE CHECKLIST
Top 12 things you should provide at an OPEN HOUSE
- Be sure to include either a flyer or MLS sheet. Leave lots of pens so people can make notes on their sheet as they walk around the house.
- A sign in sheet that asks for name and contact info and whether or not they are working with an agent.
- Neighborhood information. Be the expert and have info from community groups, local sports teams, clubs and anything else you can think of. Be sure to stay far, far away from anything that could violate fair housing laws such as promoting religious institutions.
- The competition. Yes, you should have already gone to see all of the competition. Make sure you previewed all of the houses that buyers at your open house are likely to look at. Know those properties as well as you know your own listing. Also be aware of any open houses they are holding so you can speak intelligently with potential clients.
- The sold comps. Have a list on hand of the comparable sales in your market that support the seller’s asking price. You should know these well and if you prepared well, you previewed them when they first hit the market.
- Lender information. Have a lender you work with provide some financing options in an attractive flyer for potential buyers. Although sales price is important, most people are ultimately affected by monthly payment. By having this information readily available, buyers can quickly process affordability of this home.
- An actual lender. What if you invited the lender and her laptop to your open house? You can provide on the spot consultations and possibly even instant pre qualifications. What a great service for buyers, and an opportunity for the lender to get leads, and you to get qualified buyer leads.
- A little take away. Pen, magnet, goody bag… Anything that makes people feel good and remember you.
- Something for the kids. If the kids are complaining or running around the house, the parents have a hard time looking at it. I know a lender who purchased an iPad and loaded it with kid friendly games. Whenever he went to someone’s house to sign loan docs, he brought it to keep the kids occupied. Not only did it keep them busy, but it made such an impression on the kids that they became his raving fans and put in a good word with the parent. Are iPads out of your budget or comfort zone? What if you had Play-Doh or an old school coloring book and crayons? What if you become the agent that the kids keep talking about to their parents?
- Feature cards throughout the property to point out what might be overlooked. Example: Working wood burning fireplace, central vacuum system. Make sure not to go overboard and point out the obvious. Everyone knows that the porcelain G-d is a toilet, so you don’t need to point it out.
- Feedback forms on a clipboard- I love this tool! Create a simple form saying the owner loves feedback and really appreciates it. Ask a few simple questions about the house that the buyer can answer when they walk through. You can ask them to rate certain features on a scale of 1-5, like curb appeal, layout, appeal/condition of the interior and exterior. Ask them what they liked most or what they think needs improvement. What is their opinion of the price? This is a super great tool to use and can be in place of the sign in sheet. Buyers tend to like this and it encourages them to interact with you. Just be sure to include a space for their contact info and to indicate if they are working with an agent.
- Food and drink. Make it a party. Make people feel welcome and appreciated. Are you on a budget? Buy non perishable items so you don’t have leftovers go to waste. This is a place where money is well spent. Not only will people feel more comfortable around you and convert to buyers, but you are positioning yourself as a professional listing agent.
To follow or not to follow, that is the question.
Go to open houses and pay attention to the style of the agent. Some of them barely look up from their cell phone and others follow you around like you are planning to ransack the joint. Neither of these approaches are ideal.
Try to land somewhere in between. The best approach I have ever come across is to greet the people and make brief and polite small talk, then move on to a short overview of the house. Explain that they are welcome to walk around by themselves and ask you any questions; or you are happy to give them a tour. Ask which option they’d prefer. See what I did here? I asked a question and gave them a choice. Who could be unhappy with this option? You just nailed it. You made it about them, not about you and took your first step in building a relationship with this person.
What NOT to do
My kids ski but I don’t. I tend to sit in the lodge all day with a book (and sometimes a glass of wine). Last year I decided that it might be time to buy a winter home near the mountain so I wouldn’t be stuck at the resort drinking wine all day. I found an open house and snuck off without telling my kids. I didn’t want them getting their hopes up since I was just in the browsing stage.
I drove to the open and was the only one there besides the agent. She greeted me and we made small talk for a minute before I was ready to go look. The house was small, simple and inexpensive, which fit my needs at the time. It was in need of some serious decorating and I was starting to envision my new Pinterest board. I was in one of the bedrooms letting my inner decorator out when the agent appeared and started talking. And talking. And talking.
Sure, she was telling me stories about the house. But did I need to know that she knows the owner and she used to rent the space after her first divorce? Or that she had some really good times there, wild times! You know, being single again after all those years with her dud of a husband. She had parties there and had the wall over there painted purple, and in that corner was the fake palm tree where they would sit on beach chairs with Corona cans, JUST LIKE THE COMMERCIAL!!! She went on, and on, and on….
…and then my son called and wanted lunch. He didn’t know where I was, so I had to go or risk blowing my cover. The problem is, I truly wanted some alone time in the rooms so I could do my mental decorating. I told the agent that I had to go, that I only had 5 minutes left, and I just needed a few minutes alone. So, of course, she followed me around and kept talking about herself. I desperately tried to take mental pictures of the space so I could daydream about it on the 3 hour ride home, but her personal stories kept getting in the way. So I left. And I forgot all about the house. All I can remember is that corner where she had the fake palm tree.
Talking to people is an art more than a science. The key is to ask questions, listen and be interested in what they have to say. This isn’t about you and making sure they know how wonderful you are. Your job as a salesperson is to solve their problem. Yes, they have a problem. They need or want a new place to live, or vacation or invest. Your job is to ask questions and find out what they need so you can provide them a solution to their problem. The solution may or may not be the house you are standing in, but that doesn’t matter. This is your chance to make a connection and start building a relationship.
Everyone in that open house is watching you and making judgements on whether or not they would want to work with you. You can’t please everyone, so be yourself. But, just like dating, put your best self forward. Would you show up for that blind date in need of a manicure and with bad breath? Hopefully not. Then why would you show up at an open house without bringing your A game?
I hope these open house tips help! Come back next week to get some tips on following up with buyers. I’d love to hear about your dream open house or open house horror stories in our comments section!