Open Houses – Coffee and Cookies are Not Enough

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According to RISMedia a recent survey showed that 56 per cent of REALTORS® found open houses pointless while 44 per cent still find value in hosting them. This is alarming because there really is a place for open houses in our industry. When you identify your main objective in hosting open houses, only then will you learn how to host one with the right attitude.

Before we move on, let’s agree that the power of the internet and technology allows you to “feature” your property 24/7. Internet and technology will help sell your property, provided you’ve followed the rules of how to present it effectively. Many Realtors do find sales success without ever hosting a single open house, and that’s fine. But the internet and technology both lack the human experience, and this is where open houses become an important aspect of your business.

However, when you don’t properly prepare for your open house, the truth is, you shouldn’t hold one because a poorly hosted open house is just as memorable as a successful one.

The main reason for holding an open house is to find clients and referrals. Period. But, clients won’t hire or refer you because you gave them a free calendar, served coffee and gourmet cookies, or because you put the TV on the fireplace channel. Clients hire and refer you because of what you know and what you can offer them. Real clients with legitimate intentions to buy, sell or invest want a Realtor they can trust to get the job done. You host an open house so that you are remembered as that Realtor. So, this piece is not about cleaning the exterior pathway and front lawn, turning on all the lights and making sure the waste baskets are empty. Nor is it a piece about using technology to send out an open house invite or live open house feed. This is not ‘Open House 101.’ It’s about taking the experience to the next level, to separate you from everyone else. It’s about knowledge.

Knowledge is a wonderfully powerful tool. For example, if you’re a shy person, being knowledgeable about all aspects of the property and the industry fuels your confidence in speaking to guests. New Realtors generally don’t start out with a number of their own listings, so they often host open houses for colleagues. Open houses are a great way for new Realtors to learn the industry and more importantly, to find clients. But new Realtors are typically thrown into the lion’s den when told to “host an open house,” because they’re not taught how to properly prepare for one. Sure, the Realtor will know the basics: year built, number of bedrooms and baths, flooring type, upgrades and renovations, even the nearest schools. But this basic information is not enough. You must know the finer details, for example: the school rankings and specialties, whether the local community center holds key programs attractive to your target market, the local demographics, what specific amenities in the neighborhood your target market would likely want to know about, how long it takes to travel to the most common amenities via public transportation, how safe the neighborhood is, and what material facts are important to disclose to your guests. These are just some key things you should know to separate you from your competition. Along with detailed information about the property, know current neighborhood and industry market trends along with relevant statistics, like average selling prices, days on market and months of inventory. Keep in mind that you’re not to break your fiduciary duties to the seller and disclose protected information, but that goes without saying.

So, where does one find property and market information? There are many sources, but RE/MAX Launchpad is a great start. The 2018 RE/MAX Housing Market Outlook Report is another great resource that will give you market stats and trends for specific cities across the Midwest. To find out how you can use it in your business, click HERE and to download the full report click HERE!

You’ll also find the Enhanced Listing Manager tile on RE/MAX Launchpad, which will give you access to your listing’s basic demographics and additional neighborhood information that’s printable on “one sheets.” Also, check with your local real estate board since they may have information drilled down to neighborhood stats for each home type and style.

Knowledge sets you apart. Unfortunately, too many Realtors don’t understand this. Some of these Realtors may fall into that 56 per cent identified above. And what about the 44 per cent who favor open houses? It’s my personal experience, as a real estate coach and mentor, that at least half of that 44 per cent don’t properly prepare by learning the details and learn only the basics. RISMedia also identified that 62 per cent of their respondents hosted between one and three open houses per month. Let’s assume that the average open house (including prep time to set up and take down) is four hours, averaging twice per month. That’s eight hours spent every month hosting open houses – technically a full work day. It would be a shame to waste that precious time by not properly preparing.

The most important aspect of any open house is you and how you present yourself – and I’m not necessarily referring to your attire. I’m talking about how you present yourself when you’re faced with all those questions. Will you be able to display detailed knowledge of not just the property and the surrounding area, but the overall market as a whole? Open houses are where the spotlight shines on you and your knowledge. The more people you can impress, the better for you and your business. Take the time to go beyond the basics and learn the details. Be knowledgeable, because when it comes time for a legitimate seller, buyer or investor to choose a real estate professional, they will definitely remember you. That’s the real result of a successful open house.

The blog post above was written by John Manucdoc!

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John Manucdoc
Learning and Development Specialist
RE/MAX INTEGRA, Ontario-Atlantic Region

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