By Nick Caruso
It’s undeniable that most consumers in the market for a new home begin their searches on the Web. In fact, thanks to the Internet, consumers can learn a great deal about a property before even speaking with a real estate professional. While the Internet may be a great tool for buyers to use to get started, nothing can ever replace a physical walkthrough of a home. And how can agents get the most eyes inside one of their listings? With an open house.
From a consumer’s perspective, nothing quite matches physically seeing a home that may have piqued their interest. “Pictures are great, but they don’t tell the whole story. Open houses are an excellent way for buyers to explore the details that make a house a home, and to envision themselves living in both the house and the neighborhood,” says Doug Breaker, president and CEO of HomeFinder.com.
Open houses are an equally as-important way for agents to sell houses, and to network with potential clients. According to Breaker, successful agents run open houses to sell the house, and to gain feedback from potential buyers, like if the house is priced too high, or if certain home features need to be updated in order to sell. “This feedback can be passed along to the home seller, so they can make their house more appealing to buyers or drop the listing price,” says Breaker.
Agents should also use open houses to take advantage of the multiple networking opportunities available to them.
“Many open house visitors don’t have an agent yet,” says Breaker. “Open houses are a great way to connect with and win new clients.”
In order to connect with potential clients and put their feedback to good use, there are tools agents can use to make everyone’s lives that much easier. Instead of an ordinary paper sheet to collect information, agents can use Open Home Pro, an iPad app that lets people digitally sign in and answer a few simple questions at the behest of the agent.
Post-open house, the app will immediately follow-up with open house attendees, turning a very ugly manual process into a sleek digital experience. Open Home Pro will automatically email home details and photos to visitors before they have even pulled out of the driveway. The app will also automatically communicate any important updates, like a drop in the listing price.
“With a paper open house sign-in sheet, potential buyers might leave off key information when they sign-in. By using Open Home Pro to facilitate open house sign-ins, agents can successfully collect visitor’s contact information and details on their home search,” says Breaker.
Once all the data is collected, agents can download it on a CSV file and upload to the CRM of their choice. Not only will the data include contact information, it will also answer important questions such as, “Are you working with an agent?” and “Are you pre-approved?”
“If they’re pre-approved, it’s a great sign that they’re ready to buy. If they do have an agent, it’s a definite sign of someone who’s ready. If they don’t, then this could be a potential client for the agent,” adds Breaker.
For companies looking to go paperless, Open Home Pro can be the first step of that transition process. For other apps and programs that can be useful to a paperless effort, Breaker recommends Google+ or Google Drive, for easy access to documents from anywhere; RightSignature, for easy contract signing from a mobile device; Camera Plus, for digital zoom and photo clarity tools; 360 Panorama, for quick panorama photo capabilities; and Pic Stitch, a photo collage app. In addition, Breaker notes that agents could and should run virtual open houses using FaceTime or Google Hangouts.
Regardless of how companies choose to go paperless, one thing is for certain: Using a data-collecting app such as Open Home Pro can drive the ROI of open houses via more sales, new clients and invaluable information right at agents’ fingertips.
HomeFinder.com acquired Open Home Pro in early 2014. It is available in the iTunes App Store for $14.99. An Android version is set to follow in the next few months.
For more information, please visit www.HomeFinder.com/openhomepro.
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