We’ve always believed in the power of open houses and as we’ve mentioned before, there are solid stats to back up this belief. Research finds that 76 percent of open house visitors end up buying within six months and 77 percent have a house to sell. Priceless connections for a few hours of work.
Then the global pandemic changed everything. However, since day one of the shutdown we’ve encouraged Weichert agents to embrace virtual open houses –– and they have with great success.
One of our affiliates, Brenda Elliott of Weichert, Realtors® – The Space Place in Huntsville, Alabama, has seen so many people attending her team’s virtual open houses that she expects to continue them, along with in-person open houses, even after the pandemic is over.
“We can reach people not just around our area, but across the country. Each virtual open house reaches, on average, over 11,000 unique viewers every single week,” says Brenda.
That’s the kind of flexibility that helps great agents excel in any market. Going forward, top producers will no doubt be using a blend of real estate marketing strategies to satisfy the changing needs of clients and the new ways of living and working we’re all adapting to.
In-person open houses
With in-person open houses on offer once again, health and safety measures are key. This may mean limiting the number of visitors allowed in the home at one time, stocking sanitizing stations, or even extending open house hours to accommodate. (Hey, a line outside your listing can even add to the anticipation.)
In its first set of behavioral guidelines for vaccinated populations, the CDC recommends that immunized adults still take precautions as infection rates within communities evolve and additional scientific evidence becomes available.
“Naturally, we encourage affiliates and their teams to follow CDC guidance as well as local mandates,” says Bill Scavone, President and COO of Weichert Real Estate Affiliates, Inc., “But it’s great to see restrictions loosening a bit and to get a glimpse at life as we knew it.”
While it’s too early to give “post-pandemic” open house advice, there are tried-and-true methods that are always important to master. Robust social media marketing, including eye-catching posts and targeted ads, will ensure that real estate listings get shared far and wide. Adding client testimonials goes a long way, too.
At Weichert, technology greatly enhances our ability to garner open house attention:
- Our “property boost” tool helps promote open houses via Facebook ads to the surrounding community to reach the most likely buyers.Simple CRM tools can be used to promote open houses directly from an agent’s dashboard via email or text to further increase exposure.Unique landing pages can be used to promote open houses on social media and capture lead data in exchange for property info, which goes directly into the database for easy follow-up.On-site, visitors sign into Weichert’s Open House app, which connects automatically to the CRM and starts following up within four hours.
Virtual open houses
The search for real estate has long commenced online, but not until last year had it truly spilled over into the open house experience. Thanks to remote work and virtual learning, there’s been a significant boost in everyone’s comfort level with technology.
Now, online experiences are second nature to both agents and attendees. It’s easy to see why. It’s more convenient to view homes from the comfort of your own. It saves unnecessary travel. It affords greater flexibility.
Traditionally held on Sundays, open houses can now happen anytime. Lasting one hour instead four, they can even be held more frequently. The hefty investment on print collateral and other goodies typically distributed at live events is also minimized. Not to mention, agents are enjoying much greater attendance, which means interaction with a large pool of potential future clients.
What does it all mean? It means that despite what happens next on the healthcare front, virtual open houses are here to stay.
As the pandemic recedes, we believe a blend of traditional and virtual techniques will be the norm. At the end of the day, people still crave in-person experiences. And when it comes to a major investment such as a home, a good segment of buyers will prefer that personal touch, the ability to interact, and the opportunity to ask in-depth questions.
It’s also helpful for agents to read facial expressions and body language and to make real connections, which are the foundation of their business. However, there will always be a place for the flexibility and exposure that virtual events provide. Perhaps virtual open houses will be held all week long, making the perfect complement to in-person weekend events.
We’re so confident that virtual open houses are here to stay that, as of 2021, we’ve fully integrated virtual open houses into our marketing materials and listing presentation. They’re also front and center on the weichert.com homepage. Companywide, we continue sharing and testing new ideas for making the virtual experience more exciting and useful for our clients.
Today, 97 percent of buyers still start their home search online, so an agent’s first digital impression really matters. Along with professional photos and thorough descriptions, clients are expecting more from their virtual experiences.
While agents are getting better every day at using technology to the fullest, there’s always room for improvement. From beautiful images to attention-grabbing descriptions, it’s important to build credibility with polished, professional promotions that do each property justice. Here are a few more tips for making your virtual open house a success:
- Put “virtual open house” signs on the property with the date, time, and URL to register for your upcoming event.Do a run-through. Presenting to people separated by a screen takes a little getting used to. Practice makes perfect.Provide simple registration and sign-in instructions. Have a few colleagues register to make sure there are no glitches.
- Open your presentation with some beautiful imagery (house images or otherwise), music, and a warm welcome.Mix it up. A narrated walk-through plus a focused rundown of features will give the audience ample time to take it all in.Leave time for questions. Better yet, have a colleague field basic questions in the chat so you can focus attention on serious buyers.Have a backup plan. Sometimes, tech just fails so always have a plan B ready to go.
- Provide your audience with links to all the info you just shared.Share your contact information, social platforms, and other ways people can reach out.Follow up with attendees within 24 hours of the event, ideally even sooner.
Once you’re comfortable with virtual open houses, you can further expand your reach by livestreaming events via Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other platforms. This is where small upgrades in your equipment can have a big impact.
According to theclose.com, the GoPro line of cameras offers an affordable option for enhancing your livestreams. Coming in around $300 total, the Hero7 Black camera and Rode microphone can improve your image and sound quality without breaking the bank.
Once your video is recorded, you can boost it on Facebook for even more exposure.
What’s to come
In a truly post-pandemic world, if there is such a thing, nearly every industry will be functioning in new and different ways. As a whole, we’ve become more flexible, adaptable, and open to trying new things. That’s a plus!
Going forward, the “hybrid open house” will surely become the norm. We’ll go virtual when it makes sense and live when it’s appropriate. We’ll save time and money. We’ll use technology to reach our very best prospects. And we’ll promote our businesses in ever more vibrant and exciting ways.
In-person or virtual, one in three Weichert open houses results in a sale. If you’d like to learn more about how we do it, take a tour of our technology, or talk to other brokers who’ve chosen to franchise, reach out anytime!