Success with Open Houses (part 6) – Add Value

I am sure you have heard the term “value-added” a multitude of times with regard to sales.  The more value you add to the process, the more successful you will be in sales.  Open houses are no different in this regard.  The offer of value gets more people to the house and tends to help them become long-term customers.

Not that offering $10,000 off the selling price will not bring people in the door, but adding value really is a matter of giving something extra instead of discounting.  Besides, your extra traffic is more likely to be presented by those looking to “steal” the home.  Adding value produces a smaller crowd, but more serious buyers.

The question is, what value?  It must be more than a gimmick (free lottery tickets) and something different than what everyone else is offering.  Here are just a few ideas:

 

  • Offer a free home warranty for the home.  A warranty represents peace of mind and only costs a couple hundred dollars.  If they do not buy the house, you have lost nothing.
  • Offer a free pre-approval for a mortgage loan.  Perhaps you can have a lender attend the open.  It should cost nothing to get your customer pre-approved.  Most lenders only charge an application fee to ensure the customer is serious about buying.  Find a lender that is willing to work with you.
  • Offer a free report.  “10 Mistakes Purchases Need to Avoid When Financing Their First Home”, “Questions to ask Your Lender”, “How to Choose the Right Realtor”, or which ever report you currently have listed on your website.
  • Offer ten books on finance for the first 10 visitors.  “Your Money and Your Life”, “The Millionaire Next Door”, “Courage to be Rich”, or “Couples and Money”.  All are listed in the top 10 books about money and you do not have to purchase hardbacks.
  • Offer a free financial analysis with a financial planner.  There are many financial planners that would like to work with Realtors.  If you do not know of one, look them up in AR.  Don’t give up on someone because they tell you they have credit problems or have not saved a down payment.  Direct them to someone who can help.  In a few months or so, the customer will be back to you and ready to move forward.

 

With these and other “value” offerings, you may attract traffic that is not so much interested in that particular home but is interested in purchasing in general.  Isn’t one of the goals to generate prospects for your overall business?

The ultimate goal is to make sure you are putting something in everyone’s hands.  I have an open house flyer that demonstrates what payment and cash is needed to purchase a particular house.  You can make this flyer even more valuable by offering a free report or pre-approval via the flyer.  This is called a response mechanism and assures a greater response AFTER the open.  After all, follow-up is key.

Did you miss the last few posts about Success with Open Houses?  Click the link.

Have you found anything I have written to be useful?  Do you do many of these things already or was I able to give you some other suggestions?

I think I will add one more post to this topic to try and sum it all up, provide a few last thoughts, and really try to get some good feedback from each of you.  If you have followed along from the beginning, I appreciate you and hope you will let me know what you thought after my last entry.

Make every day great!   John Cannata – Reliant Mortgage Ltd

Success with Open Houses (part 5) – Get the Word Out!

As always, I am attaching the links to the previous blogs – parts 1 thru 4:

  1. Success with Open Houses – Part 1 (Attitude)
  2. Success with Open Houses – Part 2 (Focus on outcome)
  3. Success with Open Houses – Part 3 (Planning)
  4. Success with Open Houses – Part 4 (Preparation) 

If you have read my previous posts and have followed along, the following should be true:  You have the right attitude.  You are fully prepared.  The material is set.  Your objections responses are ready.  The place looks great.  The stage is set for a successful open house.  But then, the real disaster hits – no one shows.

All the preparation in the world will not make traffic flow through the door.  Advertising will.  Here is a list of marketing musts:

Signage – Make sure the signs are out during the week so that traffic in the area is alerted.  This is especially true if the first sign will be on a busy road.  Keep in mind of any HOA or State regulations which prohibit certain sign placements and how early a sign can be posted before the event.

Alert the Industry – What you would really like at your open house are serious buyers.  Serious buyers are typically already represented by real estate agents.  Therefore, you must alert the industry.  A professional flyer needs to be supplied to all area agents during the week – as well as a special letter and/or phone call to your personal contacts.  I am not referring to past clients, I am actually referring to business partners you have established – Appraisers, Shop owners, Home Stagers, Mortgage Broker, Auto Salesman, etc.  Some may feel that letters are not effective, and in some cases you are correct.  The secret to sending letters is being consistent.  You can not occasionally send a letter and expect a response.  When you are consistent, you will find better results.  An alternative to sending a letter is sending an email announcement and of course, blogging.

 Alert the Neighborhood – Yes, sometimes “nosy neighbors” can disrupt an open – but some may have friends who would like to live in the neighborhood.  Others are potential sellers down the line.  It also helps if you could talk nicely about the neighbors to prospects.  Personally inviting the neighbors is a great way to get exposure as the ‘neighborhood realtor’.  Ask them to help you find someone to live in their neighborhood – friends, family, co-workers.

 

Use the Newspaper Wisely – Just about every open will be advertised in the paper.  So, if you are going to throw in the rest – try getting some more bang for the buck.  For example, get together with other area agents and advertise as a tour of homes.  Or use something of value as a general response mechanism and/or to draw visitors.

http://www.suzannesutton.com/joinus.htm                 http://lib.colostate.edu/research/newspapers/

Market to your Sphere – You should have a large sphere of influence represented by your database.  Keeping them informed of opens is important.  As you know, most deals come from personal referrals – but you are not likely to get these referrals unless you keep your sphere informed.  Just like the “Alert the Industry”, you can use the same tools to alert your past customers and customers that are ‘on the fence’.

 

 

What other types of advertising do currently do to get the word out about your open house?

What business partners do you utilize to get the word out?  Or do you even use your business contacts as a resource?

In the next blog, I will address the question of value: how to draw visitors to your house and how to be more likely to keep them as long-term customers.  One way that I have helped agents with advertising is by sending flyers to my sphere of customers and contacts, deliver flyers to the real estate community, and notify an extensive mailing list of agents.

Make every day great!

Success with Open Houses (part 4) – Preparation

As always, I am attaching the links to the previous blogs – parts 1 to 3:

  1. Success with Open Houses – Part 1 (Attitude)
  2. Success with Open Houses – Part 2 (Focus on outcome)
  3. Success with Open Houses – Part 3 (Planning)

As we learned in the last blog, it is important to hold the open house at the right time, on the right date, and in the right location for the circumstances.  It is also just as important not to facilitate a disaster once your guests arrive.

  • The owners – You have herad thie time and time again – make sure they are not present.  Owners do not take kindly to browsers loughing at their wallpaper choice.  But do make sure they spend some time preparing the house under your instructions and are reachable for questions during the open house.
  • No teenagers or pets – Clear the other residents as well.  A teenager may opt to “stay in their room,” but no one is comfortable knocking on a door to disturb someone – even if the music is not blasting.
  • Creating the atmosphere – Open the blinds and bring in some flower arrangements.  Many resourceful agents have sild arrangements they use again and again.  Perhaps get some scented candles or plug-ins.
  • Cover the flaws – In addition to cleaning up, make sure the rooms with blemishes are painted and touched up.  Remember, the blinds will be open and stained carpets will be more noticeable.  The time to do this is before the open, not afterwards.
  • Practice onjection responses – If you have planned well, you will know potentional objections.  The secret to handling objections is to know your responses ahead of time.  Be ready with questions, such as – “what do you think of a fenced-in backyard?” – as an answer to such questions as “isn’t this street too busy for children?”  Be prepared.

As I stated in the planning stage, arrive early.  Make sure the planned cleaning really happened.  Sometimes your definition of clean does not coincide with the owners definition of clean.  Or perhaps they decided to ‘stay home’ at the last minute.

Stock Photo - messy bed. fotosearch  - search stock  photos, pictures,  images, and photo  clipart

Want to start the open with a great attitude and be ready to sell, sell, sell?  The place to start is with preparation for disaster avoidance.

Do you have any additional suggestions to prepare for your open house?  I’ll be discussing ‘getting the word out’ in the next post.  Watch for the latest update.

Make every day great!

Success with Open Houses (part 3) – Planning

If you missed the previous posts about Open Houses, please be sure to visit those links

Success with Open Houses – Part 1

Success with Open Houses – Part 2

This blog will be short and sweet.  I wanted to talk about planning your open house and addressing possible obstacles.  Many agents have found this to task to be more for ‘the client’, but if handled correctly can really be a huge success.  For example, did you ever hold an open house and then find out later that the traffic was light because of a competing sporting event?  Perhaps someone held an open house a block away – which can be good – but in this case the directional signs veered potentials off your path.  There is no reason to stack the deck against your open house.

 

  • Check the date – Make sure the date does not conflict with major events or holidays.  Are the owners going to be available the week before to help prepare the house?  Is this a good date for them?  Sometimes moving the open to a Saturday can actually increase traffic – especially if you are the only game in town.
  • Check the location – If you have to make thirty turns to get to the house, is there any chance of traffic?  Directional signs can help from a few blocks away.  If more are needed, directions may have to be a part of the advertising efforts.
  • Check the competition – What other houses will be help open the same day?  If your listing does not compare well with a home on the same street, do not hold it open the same day.
  • Use the competition – Most competition is an opportunity.  Work with those holding opens in the neighborhood.  Agree to direct traffic to the other listing and perhaps have each other’s brochures on hand.  No one is likely to purchase without viewing the other listing – so you might as well provide the service.
  • Check the time – While Sunday afternoons are the norm, there are some exceptions.  Is there a large Church holding a service at noon?  This is a marketing opportunity for more visitors but the traffic may turn others off.
  • Do your research – Have a synopsis of competing listings ready for the visitors.  Visit the competition so that you can talk in first person.  Be an expert instead of a house sitter.
  • Go early – There are always last minute issues you do not expect.  Arrive early and take care of these issues.  If you put the signs out during the week to help advertise, make sure they are still in place.

 In general, your open house should be part of a coordinated event – coordinated with competition, events, and the neighborhood.  An isolated event will have much less impact.

Over the next few blogs, I plan to address how to prepare for your event and get the word out.  What do you think so far?  Have I touched on any obstacles that you have run into when planning an event?

Make every day great!

John Cannata – Reliant Mortgage

Success with Open Houses (part 2) – Focus on the Outcome

If you have missed the first part, follow this link – Success with Open Houses Part 1.

Would you like to reap the benefits from an open house?  First you will have to determine what benefits are possible before you set a goal to achievement.  Too many agents see the only goal as selling the home (though this would certainly be a great benefit).  There are many other possibilities:

 

  • Meeting other prospects looking for homes or to sell their home.  Today’s tire kicker may be tomorrow’s sale for the alert agent.
  • Garnering feedback on the home.  Instead of being defensive, listen.  Perhaps you will lean what will sell the home.
  • Utilize quiet periods to brush up on skills.  Bring a training book or tape.
  • Get the word out to the area – make the open part of a major marketing campaign. (this is my favorite one and I’ll cover it in a future post)
  • Let the seller know what a great job you are doing.

 

For example, do you mail to every prospect you have spoken to in the past year and let them know about the open house? One of your goals should be to keep in touch with these prospects.  But rather than calling them periodically just to find out if they are ready to purchase, put a live home in front of their eyes and see if you can call them to action.

It is especially difficult for some to envision the “nosy neighbor” as a legitimate prospect and it may require some really long-term vision on your part.  In the next few posts, I’ll give you ideas on how to capture the “nosy neighbor” Keep an eye on upcoming posts!

First things first… no matter how many benefits we can reap from an open house, it does not make sense to take any unnecessary risks that will undermine your safety.  Everyone typically thinks that the worst will never happen to them personally, but we have heard too many stories to ignore the fact that we must prepare for safety.  It’s a shame that our society requires this – but it is a fact we cannot ignore.  I do not sell safety items, but I would like to share some tips with you.  Some are pretty basic and you are well aware of:

 

  • End the open house well before dark.  In the winter, this is a bit more difficult but it is well worth it.  You do not want to be locking up and leaving in the dark.
  • If the house is vacant and there is no phone in the house, consider holding the house open with a companion (not the seller!).  Inexperienced agents may want to see a pro in action.  If there is no phone, make sure ahead of time that your cell phone gets reception from within the house and directly outside.
  • If the house is vacant – do not advertise this fact.  Use the term immediate occupancy.
  • Develop a system to check in with someone regularly.
  • Become familiar with the immediate neighbors (always a good marketing idea).  Do you know who will be home that afternoon?  Perhaps they can stop in and say hello.
  • Make sure all windows and doors are locked (except the front door obviously).  Open the back door when someone is touring.  Opening the window treatments for light does not mean the windows have to be unlocked.
  • Be alert and have emergency numbers ready (so do not have too much focus on AR while working an Open House. LOL)

 

While some of these measures might seem “extreme,” there are no precautions that are not worthwhile when talking about safety.  I often spend a few hours in open houses offering free “pre-approvals” as a service to my listing agents.  Sometimes I do this for busy opens where the agents needs the support.  Other times I am helping keep them company in a remote area.

Okay, enough about safety.  In my next few posts, I’ll talk about planning and marketing the open house.

Success with Open Houses (part 1) – Attitude

Before you read this blog and think I am sharing my success story, I want to clarify that I am actually writing about how to succeed with Open Houses.  Over the next few posts (not sure how many yet), I’ll discuss some tips that help make Open Houses successful.  If you have a different opinion from what I am posting, please do share it with me. 

If you are a listing agent, you have learned the secret that top real estate agents have known for years.  Rather than focusing upon the selling side of the business, true top producers rely on listings for the majority of their real estate commissions.  It is possible to sell many more listings in a month that it is to show and sell to multiple purchasers.  Balance between the two is very important — when worked properly your sellers will always  translate into enough purchase business to keep the purchase side of your business strong.

One tool that has always existed for listing agents is the open house.  It is sometimes a very controversial tool with some agents believing open houses are not a good use of their time except to show their sellers some activity.  Other agents started and built their careers focusing on this particular tool.

In reality, it is not the tool itself that determines the effectiveness — its the actions you take.  One of my biggest marketing suggestions is to continue having open houses.  This is why I decided to write posts about this topic.  I’ll try to word the following posts in a way that will help you make this activity more effective.  It would be rare for any listing agent not to use the tool of open houses and it makes sense if you are going to spend your valuable resources — money and time — that you achieve the greatest results in return.

The first step is… get into the right frame of mind!

I have heard these comments by real estate agents regarding open houses – 

“Waste of time”

“All I ever see is tire kickers”

“All I am doing is making the owner feel good”

Yet, every weekend we see houses held open — scores of them.  And many agents swear that this is a very effective sales method.  Well, those who succeed with a particular sales tool do so because of a positive outlook.  Have you heard the expression“Attitude Sells”?  Ever have a week where things are really slow, and then all of a sudden you get 3 or more listings in a row?  A big factor is your attitude.  Your attitude actually changes after the first one, which carries over to the next conversation.  There is no substitute for a positive outlook.  Do not think that you can turn this outlook on without proper mental (and sales) preparation — when a great prospect finally wanders in the door.  As a matter of fact, it is unlikely that a great prospect will walk in the door without the proper preparation in place.

In other words, if you prepare for the worst you will get the worst — Tire Kickers.  It is said that some could find a rainbow in the desert.  Finding a good listing and/or sales prospect should not be that hard in a weekend.  If you find a legitimate propsect every time we hold an open house, the activity will more than pay for itself in the long run.  However, we are not likely to find gold if we are expecting coal.

Family

So, the first rule for great open houses?  Open the mind before we open the house!