By Dallas Eichers
Everyone seems to be looking for a magic wand to generate leads. Wave your wand once and buyers and sellers are delivered right to your office door. Of course, there’s no such thing and lead generation programs offer the next-best solution, though not all programs are effective and some are too expensive to be worthwhile. Don’t get me wrong: There are agents who are wildly successful using lead-generation programs but the majority of real estate professionals tend to throw money at systems with few results.
What’s an agent to do when looking to generate new leads and meet new people? The answer is simple: Hold open houses!
Hosting an open house event can generate more opportunities for new business, whether you’re a new or established agent. Plus, the cost can be minimal; the only expense required to host an open house is your time.
Open houses often produce a variety of different visitors. In low-inventory markets, savvy buyers are eager to view homes as soon as they hit the market, and some are looking to quickly make a move. Other may be only casually browsing until they unexpectedly fall in love with a home. Neighbors will come by to make comparisons and get an idea of what’s happening in the area. Still, no matter who walks through the front door, there’s one thing your visitors have in common: They’re all potential leads!
I know what you’re thinking: “Last weekend I put a sign in front of my listing, opened the door and no one came.”
Well, to that I say: It happens! Not every open house is going to be filled with people but if you start holding open houses on a consistent basis and refine your process, the results will show. You never know when you may get a call from someone ready to sell because he or she saw your name and your efforts in the area. Sometimes, an open house can merely be about the exposure it brings to your business.
Here are some ideas and tips to help make your open houses more successful:
- Use signs. Don’t be afraid to use signs, signs and even more signs! Also, use flags and banners to accompany those signs. The more attention you draw to the home, the more activity you can expect. Even if your activity is slow one day, your signs serve as mini-billboards, advertising you and your business to the neighborhood.
- Deploy online advertising. Utilize your multiple listing service and local classified ads to get the word out about the open house in advance. The more eyes that see it, the more likely it is you’ll have a good turnout. Again, you’re also building your brand.
- Knock on doors. Get out in the neighborhood and knock on doors! Neighbors often know someone who wants to move into the area. Remember, the more people you meet, the more opportunities you have for future business.
- Time it right. Be strategic about when you plan to hold an open house. Watch for local events like a farmer’s market or concert and take note of when most residents commute home for the evening. For some markets, Saturday is the ideal time to hold an open house; for others, Sunday is better. No two neighborhoods are the same, so do your research and plan accordingly.
- Always hold new listings open. Always, I repeat, always hold your new listing open within the first couple of days it’s on the market. Some agents even withhold regular showings until the first open house. However you choose to do it, know that most people are just eager to get in to see new places on the market. This means you’ll get to meet a lot of people—hello, leads—and with the buzz and activity this generates, you’ll create a sense of urgency for buyers.
- Ask questions. Use a sign-in sheet to gather information from each visitor, but don’t rely on that alone. (You can also use an iPad with an app that captures contact information.) Ask specific questions to both qualify and interact with people. Suddenly, you’ll have even more information about what those people want or need, and you’ll have more opportunities to provide value.
- Give visitors a reason to stay. Team up with a local bakery or coffee shop to provide treats and drinks. You can also supply your visitors with information like neighborhood data or a free market analysis. By providing something beyond the experience of walking through the home, you are giving open house visitors a reason to stay and giving yourself more opportunities to interact with people and establish a deeper relationship.
- Remember the importance of social media. Post information about your open house on various social media platforms. Go live on Facebook, post on Instagram (both in the feed and on your story) and announce your event on Snapchat. If your target buyer is in a younger demographic, you might even consider creating a custom Snapchat filter for your open house event. Someone might not be able to make it to the open house but he or she may still see your live walk-through on Facebook and decide to reach out to you for an appointment later.
These are just a handful of suggestions for hosting successful open houses. The more open houses you do, the more successful you’ll be!
DALLAS EICHERS is a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Utah Properties and a member of the national REthink Council. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.