Adjusting Your Open House Strategy for Today's Buyer

Even with today’s technology, open houses not only provide a gateway for buyers to see a home but they are a great way to connect with potential buyers and sellers, regardless if that home is the right home for them. 

Brokers who provide information at their open houses that visitors can’t get anywhere else will continue to prosper, knowing they can turn to this lead generation faucet whenever they need business. When an open house is done right it encourages engagement and conversation.  With property information available online, how can you really stand out and make a connection with the people walking through the door? Here are a few tips for before, during, and after the open house:

BEFORE: 

Getting potential buyers interested in attending the open house is the first step. Here are some tech and not-so-tech-savvy ways to spread the word:

 

The Virtual Open House

You might think, “Won’t a virtual tour get fewer people to my open house? If they have already seen it online and something turned them off, they won’t come!” That is exactly my point. If your open houses are so inundated with visitors that you seem more like a security guard than a professional with knowledge, having a virtual open house should prequalify potential buyers and leave you with more interested parties to connect with at the event. Consider 3D tours or even new VR technology that allows the viewer to walk through the home as if they were in it. A well done virtual open house gives serious buyers the motivation they need to leave their home and come to your open house. 

Social Media and Apps

If you are on Facebook or Instagram, take advantage of the photos or video you have already taken for the listing and advertise the open house. You can define your audience and your advertising timeline very easily and you don’t need to budget much for high-impact. Apps like Waze, a GPS app with opportunities to advertise to people nearby your listing in real-time, is another way you can advertise. On Facebook, create an event in addition to promoting a post. This is also a great way to get more connections on social media.

Letters to the Neighbors

This is old school but because many brokers are shying away from print media, it stands out. A personalized letter lets neighbors know the home has been listed and that they can expect extra traffic in their neighborhood.  It also indicates when the open house is and invites them to attend.  Take it one step further and offer to place “slow-down” signs on the street for extra safety if they have small children or pets. Many brokers who send these letters report that the neighbors actually come to the open house, thank them for the letter, look at the information they have available about the home, are wowed, and a connection is made with this now potential seller. These letters work brilliantly because you instantly become service-oriented instead of sales-oriented.

DURING:

Pull out all the stops.

An open house greeting sign will set the tone, special feature cards throughout the home highlights its features, and an information center about the community and the market in the heart of the home are all still very important but how can you add a tech edge to your open houses? Here are some suggestions:

People are wary of a sign-in sheet these days.  Here are some ideas to still capture information but also deliver services:

Text/Email to Receive Downloadable Info

There are dozens of services that encourage a viewer to text a code to a number to receive a text/link/email in response. Create a PDF package that includes additional information about the home, the area, the market and you. You also capture their information as a result and can follow-up accordingly.

Create a Digital Tour of Homes Book

Show them what else is selling in the area. Interested buyers may want to drive by to take a look. This is important for two reasons: First, most buyers want to compare the competition before they make an offer. The packet provides them with all of that information right at their fingertips.  Second, even if they are not interested in your open house, you still have a buyer in need of a home. Assuming they are not already working with a broker, offer to help coordinate a showing if they are interested. 

Interactivity and a Customized Experience  

Consider having a form on a tablet which allows them to select the type of information they want from you via checkboxes. Do they want more information about the home? General real estate market information? Or are they getting ready to sell and buy and want to set up a meeting? Simply determine 3-5 things they may want from you and allow them to control how they want you to communicate with them.  Service over sales! 

Having a tablet with a neighborhood-comparison service such as NeighborhoodScout that allows the viewer to take a look at the crime rate in the area, schools, demographics, changes in economics or real estate trends. A mapping app, like Google Maps, allows the viewer to easily see where the property is in comparison to parks, schools, shopping, fire and police departments and more. 

Consider using a quiz app such as Kahoot! for kids to stay engaged and look for clues during the open house. Have small prizes available for kids that collect all the clues. If you have a video of the neighborhood or supplemental visual information make sure you showcase it during the open house.  Does the seller have a smart TV? Use it to feature local amenities by broadcasting visuals on the TV via Bluetooth, an HDMI cable, or even a thumb drive. 

AFTER:

In order to get your follow-up done in a timely manner, I recommend having supplemental information ready to go before the open house. Just a few hours after the open house, your visitors receive an email or text with pertinent information. This is received much more favorably than getting information two days or more after the event. Even if you don’t have everything together and need time to gather some custom-requested information, send what you do have as soon as possible and provide a timeline for when they can expect the rest of the information.

One final thought...  Technology is great but nothing should keep you from good, old-fashioned conversation and connecting. 

At the end of the day, people want a trusted advisor, not a broker with dozens of apps that are difficult to keep track of. The goal of this article is not to make you feel like you are falling behind if you don’t do these things, but to challenge you to take your open houses to the next level, whether you do that with printed information or electronic tools. The goal is still to connect with your visitors in the best way possible to make their experience at your open house a memorable one.  

 


 

Denise Lones, president of The Lones Group and author of the weekly syndicated Zebra Report, brings over two decades of experience in the real estate industry with expertise in branding, strategic marketing, business analysis, and broker/managing broker training. You can reach Denise at (360) 527-8904 or at www.TheLonesGroup.com.

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