This article was originally published on Realtor.com:
Super Bowl Sunday–The Fourth of July–Christmas Day–Have you ever been out on one of these famous American holidays, and driven by an “Open House” sign? If so, you probably thought, “Who would be crazy enough to hold an open house today?”
Realtors seem to have an almost-unhealthy addiction to holding open houses at their listings, and clients are often surprised at the attraction. There are a wide range of opinions on the efficacy of open houses producing home sales. There is certainly evidence that open houses bring in potential buyers that might not have seen other methods of advertising, but you can also find consumers and professionals who will point to statistics that say they’re only marginally successful. Where you will find agreement, however, is between Realtors who hold open houses and use them to succeed in business.
Realtors Need People To Be Successful
Realtors are in the business of making connections with people. Market knowledge, experience, and marketing ability are all important components of a Realtor’s ability to sell a home, but without making personal connections, there are no clients to provide these services to.
Real estate practitioners spend a great deal of time and money making connections with people in their communities. Postcards, flyers, drip campaigns, local events, and social media are all designed to get an introduction to a potential home buyer or seller. The holy grail, of course, is an in-person meeting. That’s where the open house provides the most bang for its buck.
The Characters At Your Open House
Home sellers often dismiss a large percentage of the attendees at their home’s open house. Neighbors, looky-loos, and interlopers are seen as a waste of time to the home seller. For a Realtor, though, these groups are defined sets of potential buyers, or highly-qualified candidates for their database of contacts. They just need to be examined in a different light.
People who live near a listing are probably the biggest potential listing source for an Realtor holding an open house. While they’re often not interested in buying this particular house, they may very well know someone who is. They’re also supremely interested in something else–how does their home measure up?
This conversation-starter can quickly turn a casual chat into a Realtor displaying his/her knowledge about the local market and discussing the neighbor’s home. From what this house is worth, to the comparison of the neighbor’s home, and a list of the recent sales nearby, a Realtor can quickly gauge a neighbor’s interest in potentially selling their home. Add in a level of comfort to the conversation (the neighbor knows that this home seller already trusts the Realtor), and the experience becomes more about providing the neighbor with knowledge and less of a sales pitch.
This is one of the most-widely heard nicknames for open house visitors. The range of people associated with this moniker goes from home shoppers who aren’t particularly motivated at the moment, to folks who have no intention of ever buying a home and just like to pass the time in open houses.
A seasoned Realtor knows very well, however, that a looky-loo’s motivation can change in a minute. A buyer who is on the fence can turn into a buyer writing an offer the same day when the right home comes along. The Realtor’s job is first-and-foremost to attempt to sell the home that they’re holding open. In reality, though, there will always be plenty of open house visitors who just don’t connect with this particular home.
The transition from “Buy this house!” to “What are you really looking for?” is a quick one, and well-recognized to anyone who has attended a fair number of open houses. A well-prepared Realtor, armed with a list of other potential homes for sale nearby, is in a position to display their local knowledge and have a new buyer client in the car 30 minutes after the open house ends. While the current seller’s home must take priority, a good Realtor will not miss the chance to take a disinterested buyer to a different property later.
Interlopers, i.e. “Oh, she’s just a friend of mine.”
Sometimes, just being a “friend of a friend” is the best connection a Realtor can make. Potential home buyers often tour open houses with friends, relatives, or acquaintances that happen to be sharing a weekend outing with them. From a Realtor’s perspective, these interlopers are not a hindrance or a nuisance at all. They’re not only a new connection to make in their community, they’re also a trusted confidante of a qualified home buyer.
Birds of a feather flock together. When a young couple buyers their first home, you can be sure that a large number of their friends are at or near that same point in their lifetime. When a retiring couple is selling their large home and downsizing to a condo, it’s highly likely that their circle of acquaintances includes a fair number of people who are doing the same thing.
Realtors who make connections with friends of home buyers and sellers, are making their way into a circle of people with a high potential of being future clients. Every open house visitor who is “just a friend”, or “just coming along with me before we head to dinner”, is a quality opportunity for a valuable connection or two.
Value To The Home Seller, Value To The Realtor
It should be fairly clear that a Realtor wouldn’t hold an open house on the Fourth of July just because it sounds like a good time. There is definitely value for the home seller who knows that a holiday, or any weekend, has the potential of bringing in buyers who just don’t have time during the week to see the home.
At the same time, the value to a Realtor of making numerous connections, displaying his/her knowledge and experience, and potentially selling the home they’re holding open, combine to make an open house a rewarding experience. So, the next time you see a Realtor waving to you from an open house while you’re heading to a Super Bowl shindig, you’ll no longer feel the need to stare at them like they’re totally crazy–maybe slightly crazy, but only in terms of making their clients and their business more successful.