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How Can Agents Attract Buyers to Open Houses?

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RISMEDIA, August 1, 2009-As real estate continues to become centered around the latest technology advancements and real estate agents are focusing their time and money on new ways to connect with clients, many are moving away from the basics. Here, Sami Inkinen, COO and Co-founder of Trulia, discusses ways in which agents can better advertise their open houses so that they can attract buyers to come see the property.

inkinen_samiSami Inkinen
COO and Co-founder

Do you advertise your open houses in your local newspaper? Do you advertise them online?

According to a recent Trulia survey conducted by Harris Interactive, homebuyers are twice as likely to look for open house listings online than in print newspapers. When asked what sources they use, 62% of U.S. homebuyers reported using online sites, compared to less than one-third who use print sources, including newspapers and local flyers, to find open houses.

For serious homebuyers, the quality and comprehensiveness of online information is a major reason they turn to the Internet to help them with their open house search. Unlike newspapers that generally show just one photo and a basic property description, online real estate sites provide much richer information. From multiple photos, to neighborhood and school data, to local price trends, today’s savvy consumers want to do their homework and get a more comprehensive view of a listing before they make a decision to visit. From an agent’s perspective, these are more qualified homebuyers than newspaper visitors who stroll into open houses based on the number of beds and baths alone.

Another major reason consumers search for open houses online: convenience. Trulia recently partnered with McGuire Real Estate in San Francisco to find out why their open house attendees used the sources they did to find open house information. Many buyers reported ease of use as a major reason they search for open houses online. As San Francisco homebuyer, Cammy, wrote, “I search online because I usually only have time to do my research late at night. I don’t do newspapers!” Similarly, Danny, another buyer who searches for open houses online, responded with just one word: “easy.”

And, let’s not forget about mobile phones. Since launching Trulia’s iPhone application with open house search last summer, we consistently see spikes in usage on Sundays-the most popular open house day of the week. Consumers want to search “on the fly” for information and, as nationwide adoption of smart phones increases, we expect to see mobile devices become a major source of open house information.

So, how can you target serious homebuyers online to make sure you’re maximizing your open house attendance?

1. Post open house information on your personal website, your broker’s site and highly trafficked, national real estate sites. (Bonus for sites that offer mobile open house search).

2. Pique consumer interest in your listings by showing multiple photos, detailed property descriptions and links to more information. Serious home buyers want comprehensive information before they make the decision to visit.

3. Ask each and every open house attendee where they found your open house and focus your marketing efforts on the most popular results. After all, if an open house is advertised in the newspaper and nobody reads it, did it happen?

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