By Karlton Utter
The success of the open house remains part of the “great debate” among real estate professionals, but do they work? From my perspective, with more than 10 years of real estate experience as an agent and now a director of learning for Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC, the answer is absolutely! While open houses can sometimes test the faith of real estate sales associates, these events can help market a property, market an agents’ experience in a neighborhood and provide a chance to establish relationships with potential buyers—even future sellers.
Open houses go beyond a basic “meet and greet” with potential clients. They provide an opportunity to expand your network by having the ability to create a virtual office on any street, in any neighborhood, in any town. Posting signage and hanging balloons can also help complement your overall branding and develop a rapport with the neighbors. Tap into neighbors’ networks and discover if they know anyone who might be interested in the home.
As an agent, creating the ultimate open house experience for potential homebuyers is critical. Before your guests even step into the home, it’s important to try to create the most welcoming and enjoyable experience for them. One way is to greet guests at the front door and invite them inside. When a home is filled with people, those who pass by are more inclined to stop and see what all the buzz is about.
When speaking with potential homebuyers, try to avoid stating the obvious. As agents, we tend to go into sales mode and start pitching customers immediately. If you break yourself from this habit, you will see a huge change in your business. Potential homebuyers can see the wood floors or crown molding upon entering a room. Instead, provide insight on the neighborhood, schools and even anecdotes from neighbors. Also, try posing relevant questions that foster conversation. Here are a few recommendations:
1. What was it about this home that caught your eye? This gives the potential homebuyer an opportunity to share his/her wants and needs.
2. Do you have a home to sell? This will help guide your conversations during the course of the open house and perhaps open another door for business.
3. What are the top qualities you’re looking for in a home? You can help them identify these characteristics within the house or show how the house can be adapted to meet their needs.
4. Would you consider buying this home? You can gauge their response in order to evaluate their true wants and needs.
While it can be difficult to see the big picture, it’s important to take a step back and evaluate the true value of open houses. If coordinated and presented properly, open houses can provide tremendous opportunities to meet potential homebuyers, speak with neighbors and learn more about the needs of buyers and sellers in a community. As a proud supporter of open houses, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate recently hosted a national Open House Weekend, offering national educational programs, marketing assets and social media support for its affiliated sales associates to help maximize open house opportunities.
Karlton Utter is director of Learning Technologies and Solutions for Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate. For more information, visit www.bhgrealestate.com.