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Open House: Separating Buyers from the Lookie-Loos
By Barbara Pronin
Almost every open house draws its share of lookie-loos; curious neighbors, wishful thinkers--folks who have nothing better to do on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Some agents see that as a source of annoyance if not an outright waste of time – while others view it as a natural phenomenon that, in rare cases, pays off.
For agents in the first camp, there are steps you can take to minimize unwanted visitors:
  • Refrain from offering snacks or gifts. Word of available and attractive ‘freebies’ can spread like wildfire through the neighborhood.
  • Schedule an open house for agents and brokers only. Doing so limits open house visitors to active real estate professionals who have qualified buyers in the wings. (This is the time to increase attendance by putting out the word that snacks or lunch will be served.)
  • Host private open house events – It’s a great listing sales tool if you can assure your seller you’ll have qualified buyers, brokers and other agents lined up to preview the property on certain dates. (You’ll need to send invitations in advance and ask for RSVPs.)
  • Promote ‘by appointment only’ showings. For high-end properties, or when the home boasts exceptional or sought-after features, skip the ‘open-to-the-public’ open house in favor of by appointment showings.
Here are some additional steps an agent can take when opening the home to unknown attendees:
  • Register visitors. Serious buyers won’t be offended if you ask to see their ID, while non-serious buyers may balk at providing personal information and decide not to stay.
  • Ask if they have been pre-qualified or are ready to do so. Pre-approved buyers are your most welcome visitors. Those who say they are ready and willing may become your newest clients.
In most cases, serious buyers will be attracted to an open house if the home is priced right and strategically marketed to the audience you wish to target. But it’s important to remember that even lookie-loos can become serious buyers. Remember, you can never be sure who is a serious buyer and who is not – so treat everyone who comes in with the same respect and dignity. Consider those who are checking out the market before they are ready to buy. Finding their dream home may expedite their plans and turn them into earnest buyers.

Barbara Pronin is an award-winning writer based in Orange County, Calif. A former news editor with more than 30 years of experience in journalism and corporate communications, she has specialized in real estate topics for over a decade.

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