Marketing for Agents: Effective, Lead-Generating Open Houses

Want to make open houses more effective, both at selling the house and at generating leads. Real estate marketing expert Mike Blaney offers six great ideas

Limelight Marketing
September 11, 2014

In real estate marketing one of the most debated topics is whether an open house is a useful marketing tool for selling the house and or gaining leads for the Real Estate Agent. I have dozens of clients who swear by them to sell a house and also generate leads using tools and techniques like the ones below.

For a Real Estate Agent an open house is a time saver. You can show the house to prospective buyers without having to disrupt the homeowner through the week. Many Real Estate Agents drive their clients to open houses on weekends as they do not have to make an appointment and can cover a lot of ground. So an open house can actually save you time.

Here are six ideas to make opens more effective, both at selling the house and at generating leads.

When you are at an open house, you are going to be speaking to the most qualified prospects you will ever meet. Nine times out of 10 they are going to buy or sell a house eventually. Here are some of the questions you should ask them:

Ask them if you could add them to your email list and possibly send them links to properties they might be interested in. Then ask them if they would be interested in working with you.

I read a lot about how bad it is that open houses are being visited mostly by neighbours. Wait a minute. These are the same neighbours who own homes they may want to sell. Neighbours who have friends that might want to move into the neighborhood. Neighbours with kids of their own who are first-time buyers or have parents that might be downsizing.

For all of the Real Estate Agents that say open houses are a waste of time, take a new look. Don't miss out on an opportunity to add people to your sphere of influence. Instead, make a point of inviting neighbors to a special preview just for them. Walk the neighbourhood and drop off a special invitation for them and their friends to come for 30 minutes before the public open. Have coffee and cookies and make a production out of it because these are the very people who might be needing your services in the future and are a good source of buyer leads for the home.

Open House COlouringThis recommendation is effective in two ways; it entertains kids and gives the parents a chance to view the home and/or it impresses parents and creates a positive impression of you.

I recommend you print some stock coloring pages, add your branding discretely to the page and put them out on the kitchen table. Free colouring pages are available on the internet. For crayons go to a dollar store and pick up packages or 16 for a buck. I know most people don't bring kids to open houses, but if they have kids they will be impressed you were thinking about them and I have seen people take the pages and crayons home for their kids.

If there are no children present, offer the colouring and a pack of crayons to people. Guess what happens next? The kids colour the pages and it ends up on the refrigerator with all of the other artwork and your name is displayed for weeks on the fridge.

If you are a Real Estate Agent reading this it might seem obvious that you should sell the house to the potential buyers, but are you doing it effectively?

Blank Card with OPen House NoteOther than the owner, you know more about the house than anyone else and you may have put some of the information into a feature sheet or an enhancements and Improvements sheet, but when the person most interested in buying the home is walking through it are they going to appreciate all of the subtleties of the home?

If you are walking them through the house and remember all of the features, you can point them out. But you can't do that for everyone, so here is a better idea. Type or write out the features on a small, plain index card or tent card and place or tape the Feature Signs around the house.

For example if there are self-closing drawers in the kitchen you could have a card that reads 'I am self-closing '' try me" taped to the drawer. If a closet door leads to extra-large storage space, place a sign on the door that reads "More than a closet - 80 square feet of storage." Think of all of the buyers that wander through houses appreciating only the tip of the iceberg.

If you are in agreement that an open house is the best opportunity you have to meet prospective buyers then make every open house an event to impress prospects. I recommend you always have coffee, fruit, treats and candy to make your marketing stand out among all the other Real Estate Agents hosting open houses. If you have branded material such as pens and memo pads, make sure you bring those too. Helium balloons on your open house signs draws attention to the home and shows you put a little more effort into your marketing.

If we assume most people at an open house are eventually going to list their home then make the best impression you can. Subconsciously they are looking for the best Real Estate Agent to sell their home. Hand out colour feature sheets - preferably an 11-inch-by-17-inch four-page brochure. Print out a map of the area so you can point out where schools, shopping, amenities and churches are. Bring a list of homes in the area that are in the same price range and offer it to visitors with your card attached. Ask a mortgage broker to provide an affordability sheet showing what their payments would be. Have an aerial view of the property and surrounding area. All of this extra effort will not only help sell the home but also be recognized by sellers needing a good Real Estate Agent.

When you hold an open house it is your time to shine and you should not miss an opportunity to make a positive impression on people coming through the house. After all, they are probably looking for a professional Real Estate Agent to list their home.

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