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Think about your favorite products—your favorite cereal, chips or toothpaste. Whatever the merchandise, we all gravitate toward preferred items that aren’t necessarily the most expensive or even considered the “best” product on the market. This is because when we find something we like—because of the way it works, its appearance or a memory with which we associate it—we care little whether it’s the most economical or superior product on the market. We buy it because we have a relationship with that brand.

Open houses are meant to help sell a home by attracting agents and potential homebuyers. Therefore, the most important aspect of an open house is getting people to show up and look at the property. But how can you attract the most people?

Brokers and agents have been perfecting methods for vibrant open houses for decades. Attractive signs, online listings, balloons and even chocolate chip cookies and lemonade are all tools real estate professionals utilize to get people through the door. But what if these techniques don’t work?

Nowadays, you can see everything you want about a listed property online. Virtual tours allow you to make a judgment on a home without ever leaving your living room. What’s the use of good signs and delicious treats when it comes to the superb technology that lies at our fingertips?

The answer to this dilemma is that no matter how advanced technology becomes, it cannot replace human experience. Being inside a home and feeling it is different, and more impactful, than seeing it on a screen. You cannot sense a home’s character through a video.

Once an agent or prospective buyer has seen your property online and it has piqued their interest, how do you get them there? They haven’t seen the home, they haven’t seen your signs, and they don’t know about your famous cookies.

This is where the agent, his/her marketing strategy and reputation become the most important factors. How responsive is your team, and with what do consumers associate your brand? Do buyers remember you as the helpful, courteous agent who answered all of their questions despite the fact they were hesitant and never stopped by the property, or will they recall that you’re hard to deal with and didn’t return their calls?

Authenticity, relationships and personal branding are No. 1. Above all, you need to be aware of how you present yourself and how you’re perceived. This is why good, attentive, loyal customer service is the best practice in everything from listing presentations to open houses.

The way you treat clients is the root of your business, and everything else stems from this source. If you’re helpful and considerate, every aspect of your company—from your advertisements to your balloons—will be associated with this professionalism and clients will seek you out, regardless of your property being the most expensive or your listing photos the most attractive. Cookies will never do more for you than a respected reputation.

Desirée Patno is founder and CEO of the National Association of Women in Real Estate Businesses (NAWRB).

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