Hosting a Successful Open House in Vermont
BY Lisa Friedman
Whenever I decide to host an open house, my preparation begins about ten days in advance.
1) I like to start advertising on the major real estate web sites plenty of time before the open house since many prospective home buyers might only be looking on the internet every couple of days so I wouldn’t want them to miss the ad. Therefore, I will begin advertising on Craigs List, Active Rain, Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, Homes.com, HomeFinder.com, our own web site, our company Facebook page and a couple of other local sites approximately 10 days before the open house. I ask the owners to place the open house ad on their own Facebook page and neighborhood Front Porch Forum as well as to email the open house details from my web site to their sphere of influence for extra exposure.
2) I will mail Open House postcards to everyone in the neighborhood asking them to please notify any family, friends or co-workers who are thinking about moving into the area about the open house. I invite the neighbors to attend as well. For this postcard, I like to use an exterior photo of the home.
3) Post the open house ad on our MLS.
4) Email agents who have similar inventory about the open house and notify them that their buyers are welcome to attend either with or without them and their agency relationship will be honored (no procuring cause issue).
5) Run a three day ad in the local newspaper to run on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
6) Email customers in our database who are looking for similar type properties and invite them to attend the open house.
7) If it is a single family property, we will insert a sign rider on the Monday before (six days early) notifying about Sunday’s open house with the time listed on the rider. Most condo neighborhoods in our area will not allow this.
8) We will insert different flyers into the brochure box (at the same time that we install the sign rider) notifying potential buyers about the upcoming open house.
9) Preview similar inventory to be familiar with the comps and be able to talk intelligently about this inventory to prospects during the open house.
10) Use approximately 12 directional signs. I find this to be the most effective tool for bringing buyers to the open house. 70% of the people come in as a result of the directional signs. I put the signs out in reverse order. I begin with leaving a large note on the front door stating what time the open house will begin, that I am currently putting out signs and that I will return soon. That way no one is left following a directional sign out to nowhere if not all signs are up yet. The reverse order prevents that.
11) Helium balloons on the directional signs to attract attention.
12) Day of open house there will be a second sign on the property in addition to the normal For Sale sign which now has the open house rider. This will be a sturdy tent folding open house sign and will have a few helium balloons attached.
13) Inside the house, on the kitchen counter or table, we will have an open house sign in sheet, fancy brochures, agency disclosure and property disclosure statement, plot plan, photos of the home in different seasons in a small photo book, plate of chocolate chip cookies, small bottles of bottled water, napkins and helium balloons for the children to take with them when they leave. The open house brochures are about fifteen pages and include pictures of the home and property, photographs and data on the local schools, plot plan, tax map. list of upgrades and updates, utility information, mortgage information and community information.
14) On the morning of the open house, I will review the comps again for any new listings that have come on the market within the last day, as well as any homes that may have just reduced their prices. Telling prospects that a similar property has sold within the last few days may help to create a sense of urgency. I want to be educated on the competing inventory so I can discuss it intelligently with open house visitors.
15) I arrive at the house approximately a half hour beforehand so I don’t have to rush. I provide the seller’s with a checklist ahead of time, however I walk around to verify that all curtains and blinds are open to let in the most amount of natural lighting, turn on all lights in addition to the natural lighting, make sure that all closet doors are closed, toilet bowl lids down, etc.
16) If the weather is nice, I will sit outside on the front porch to greet open house guests. I try to have a second agent present at the open house so that if we get several visitors at once, someone will always be able to give attention to the buyers and watch over the house.
17) I hold my open houses open one hour earlier and one hour later than the competition. This gives buyers more time to make sure that they fit your listing in if they have several open houses that they are attending. Most agents in our area hold open houses on Sundays between 1:00 – 3:00. I hold mine from 12:00 – 4:00.
18) When finishing the open house, I leave another note on the front door stating that I am out picking up signs and will be returning back to the house to get the last sign. If any late comers are waiting for me at the house, I show them the house before turning off all lights and locking up the house. At this time, I pick up the signs that are the farthest away first.
19) I leave the sellers a hand written note at the home thanking them for preparing, cleaning and staging the home and provide limited feedback on the open house. After returning to my home or office, I send them an email with detailed feedback.
20) After the open house, I immediately mail all visitors a notecard thanking them for attending the open house and offering for them to call on me for assistance with any questions they may have. Since I know that it will probably take two or three days for them to receive and read their mail, I also send an email to them that evening. I include a link to the house that they viewed and also send a few similar properties in hopes of opening up a discussion to engage further communication with them.
21) About eight to ten days after the open house (I don’t want to be too pushy), I will follow up with a phone call to any prospects which I have not yet engaged in conversation through email. At this point, they will have received one email and one note card from me. I ask them if they may be interested in viewing additional homes this weekend.
This strategy yields a great amount of interest. When I first moved to Vermont, I interviewed a number of the top agents asking them which resources they used to advertise their open houses and what level of interest they obtained. Most of the top agents told me that they would receive 0-4 prospects at their open houses. This strategy has consistently yielded 7-17 prospects at our open houses. It is a lot of work, however it works.