Real estate agents have spent countless hours debating whether hosting an in-person or online open house is still relevant. There are a few arguments for why an open house is a waste of time. Perhaps the effort is considered a waste of time because buyers would rather search online for a home, or perhaps homes in the complex or neighbourhood are very similar, or perhaps the cost or time it takes to prepare for an open house is considered too much by either the agent or seller.
On the other hand, some sellers and real estate agents swear that an open house is a key marketing tool. Agents can expand their business by introducing their services to potentially engaged buyers, while sellers like an open house because it exposes neighbours (who might have friends or family looking) and potential buyers to the best possible presentation of the home for sale. No matter how many people may start their home search online, virtually all of them want to see the home, in the flesh, so to speak, before signing on any dotted line.
No matter the reason, open houses continue to be a tested marketing strategy. But like any tool, the ultimate effectiveness of an open house boils down to using this tool correctly. To give you the best shot at maximizing the impact of your open house efforts, here are four tips:
#1. Attract as much attention as possible
The primary purpose of an open house is to expose the property to the most significant amount of potential buyers as possible and to create a considerable buildup. It goes without saying that you would want the property to be as clean and as presentable as possible. However, none of that hard work would matter if potential buyers don’t hear of the event. You can begin by letting all the neighbours know about the open house by placing creative signs, balloons, and other eye-catching marketing material around the neighbourhood, especially in major intersections to direct more traffic into the property. You should also personally invite the neighbours to the open house well in advance.
You should also let all of your contacts on social media know about the open house, and spread the word amongst other real estate agents. A simple but effective tactic is to buy Facebook or Google ads to target specific demographics that might be interested in the home. The more hype you create around your open house, the more people will come to see it, and the higher chance you have of selling the property. Another wise strategy many Realtors use is opting to turn the open house into the first showing. By putting the property on MLS three to five days before you show it publicly, and state that the first showing will be the open house, you’ll build interest on the property and maximize the effect of the event. This type of tactic can potentially trigger a bidding war for the property.
#2. Do the research and show your work
Home buyers are much more knowledgeable about today’s market because they usually start their search online. Before you begin to plan your open house, you should study up on similar listings, recent sales, financing options, and amenities around the neighbourhood. After that, you should make full-colour printouts of the home showing the results of this research, along with reasons why the property is right for potential buyers.
Your goal is to be a local expert so that you can speak with authority when communicating with open house guests. Even if you don’t get a qualified buyer during the open house, by being extra prepared, you can quickly demonstrate to anyone coming to the open house that you are a neighbourhood expert.
#3. Help your visitors visualize living in the home
You want your visitors to picture themselves living in the house, and you can help them to do just that by removing anything that ties the home to a specific family. Ask the owners to remove as many family photos, child drawings, diplomas and other decorations from sight. Instead, replace those belongings with depersonalized decorative objects instead. It’s best to think of a model home when it comes to decor. Ask the owners to please remove all cars from the driveway, and politely ask the neighbours not park in front of the house.
It’s best if homeowners are not at the open house and let real estate professionals manage and handle the showing, as well as any potential buyers. Some guests may feel awkward or uncomfortable asking for realistic conditions of the property if they see the current owner walking around the event.
#4. Be personal and genuine
A key factor to consider while hosting an open house is to put away your phone and interact with every visitor that makes an effort to attend. Typically, visitors are more likely to participate in open houses if there are food and drinks at the event. An open house is a fantastic opportunity to grow your sphere of influence, and who can resist free food?
Buying a house is not a just a calculated financial transaction, it’s also a highly emotional one. If your visitors have an amazing experience touring the house, they will automatically associate you and the home with enjoyment, and they will not soon forget it. Find out what the buyers are looking for, and see if the house meets their needs, or if you can help them find a different property, with you as their trusted real estate agent.
Don’t forget to get every visitor’s contact information, and to ask every visitor for feedback. Even if you don’t get an offer at the open house or right after, it doesn’t mean it was a failure. It could mean that the visitors are putting together an offer, and if you mingled and made a good impression with visitors, you should walk away from the open house with a ton of contacts that you could potentially help to buy or sell a home.