Today’s “Ask the Expert” column features Doug Breaker, President and CEO of HomeFinder.com.
Q: Are open houses still relevant in the current real estate market, and how can real estate professionals update their open house strategy?
A: In a competitive real estate climate, a well-executed open house is a proven way to sell a listing. We regularly speak with many successful real estate agents on what sets them apart in their local markets. The most successful real estate agents understand the importance of well-executed open houses as a valuable selling tool. A strategically planned open house achieves one of three goals: 1) sell the home; 2) network with potential clients; and 3) provide your sellers with valuable feedback.
In late 2013, HomeFinder.com acquired Open Home Pro, the open house iPad app that thousands of real estate agents use—and love. Open Home Pro provides agents clear data on attendees, offers easy follow-up methods, and can help facilitate a faster sale. According to Open Home Pro data from March 2014, approximately 60 percent of visitors who signed into open houses via Open Home Pro did not have an agent yet. This data shows that open houses also offer a tremendous opportunity to gain new clients.
The following five tips will help you rethink your open house approach and lead to your most successful selling season yet.
1. Counsel your clients. Prepare your sellers before your open house begins. Educate them on open-house best practices like staging, depersonalizing and decluttering. Encourage them to remove picture frames, personal items and any indication of pets. Walk them through what will happen the day of the open house, including what time they should leave the home and how you plan to highlight the listing’s best assets.
2. Prepare for a successful event. Build excitement leading up to your open house. Drive traffic to your event by sharing listing photos on social media or via email. For added interest, showcase the listing’s unique features on Pinterest or highlight the neighborhood by creating a short video. Have listing brochures and signage made ahead of time. The day of the event, place the signs on surrounding streets so visitors can easily locate the property. Finally, give the home a welcoming feel by opening the drapes to let natural light shine through.
3. Ditch the notepad. After a busy open house, trying to decipher a messy sign-in sheet can be frustrating and makes following up with potential buyers difficult. Take the guesswork out of your sign-in process by using Open Home Pro. This app uploads all visitor information automatically and sends attendees an email with the property details and your contact information immediately after they sign in.
4. Identify hot leads. After meeting dozens of homebuyers, it can be difficult to identify which you should follow-up with to successfully sell the property. Use Open Home Pro to determine if a visitor is ready to buy, working with an agent or pre-qualified for a mortgage. The app allows you to follow-up directly from your tablet and will notify leads automatically with important information like a price decrease.
5. Use data to improve your open house’s ROI. During your open house, make note of buyers’ comments and concerns on your tablet using Open Home Pro to create a feedback loop with sellers. Post-open house, use this feedback to advise your clients on selling strategy and listing-price adjustments. This information could be crucial in making the sale.
For more information, visit www.homefinder.com.