What’s one telltale sign that there’s a Weichert® real estate open house happening in town? Yup, yellow signs and balloons (or flags or pinwheels). It may sound simple, but for us, promotion and open houses go together like peanut butter and jelly. These little pops of sunny color have been a part of our brand recognition for years and they continue to communicate an instant message to our buyers/sellers/agents: this is an open house you won’t want to miss!
What about you? What best practices do you employ, both big and small, when hosting an open house? Weichert® is sharing our top do’s and don’ts for hosting a successful open house.
Before the open house
There’s prep work to be done prior to any open house. This includes helping the homeowner understand how they can partner with you to prepare their home for a speedy sale. “Take a people-first approach” is a phrase we often say at Weichert. Keep this in mind when choosing word sensitivity. As an example, which sounds more welcoming? The front lawn looks a little wild. Buyers won’t like that. Versus The front lawn is lovely, especially the flower bed, and it would spruce up even more with a little extra pruning.
- Clean and declutter. This step is an open house “101”—yes, clear away the piles of papers and clothing, straighten out closets, and so forth to make it feel more “homey.” Then, go a step further by approaching decluttering through the various senses. The most obvious things to clean up are the ones we see but be sure to also pay attention to what customers will hear, smell, and touch. Advise the homeowner to not cook fish for dinner the night before. Be aware of sounds that a visitor might hear, such as a train in the distance, so you can speak to it. Wipe down knobs and handles to ensure that sticky finger remnants aren’t lingering.Pay attention to curb appeal. First impressions go a long way for an open house, and this helps to mitigate the drive-by that keeps driving by. When the home looks great on the outside, potential buyers assume it looks just as good on the inside. Be mindful of the details, such as power washing the walkway, repairing any loose nails or planks, and adding colorful flowers to empty planter pots.Think ahead about safety. Talk to the homeowner about removing or locking up any prescription medications, expensive jewelry, and sensitive documents. For your own future safety, you can introduce yourself to the neighbors and see if they’ll be home at the time of the open house. (You can also use it as an excuse to invite them over, thus planting a seed for potential future business!) Take note of where the nearest police station and hospital are, just in case of any emergencies on the day of.Sharpen your property knowledge. During the open house, visitors will likely ask, “What kind of upgrades have been made?” or “What’s the square footage of the primary bedroom?” Your property sales materials will include those things, but you can also prepare yourself so you can engage in conversation. If they ask something that you can’t answer confidently, make a note, and follow up with them right away with more information.Promote on multiple platforms. To get the most foot traffic on the day of the open house, be sure to add the event to your website, MLS, and the major sites that customers search. You can also create a Facebook event for your open house to spread the word and generate interest. Circle prospect the neighborhood surrounding the home by door knocking and email marketing.
- Keep it personalized. Certain personal items strewn around the house can make it harder for the buyer to see themselves in the home. As much as you can, remove family photos or leftover birthday cards so people can better envision their own family there.Leave Rover hanging around. Not everyone likes pets, and some people are allergic, so be sure that the homeowner has made plans to remove evidence of the family’s furry friend. This includes bowls, toys, beds, and yes, Rover.
Day of the open house
You’ve done all your pre-event open house homework. Well done! Today’s the big day. What more can you do? (Or not do?)
- Put signs around. Open house street signs are like a breadcrumb trail to a treasure. You can also add a few colorful balloons to the signs and the property’s mailbox. (If you’re already partial to yellow, then we should talk!)Get there early. Allow yourself enough time to settle in and do one last declutter check. Turn on lights, open blinds, and if the homeowner is still lingering about, remind them that they were going to see a movie while you do your magic. Having enough cushion time to do these things will eliminate stress for everyone.
- Have visitors sign in. You’ve led everyone to your event. Now make sure you’re capturing their contact details. Ideally, you’re capturing these leads via a digital sign-in, such as a tablet or an app on your phone, so that the information goes directly to your CRM. For example, our franchisee affiliates use our proprietary Weichert Open House app. It easily converts open house leads to clients by putting their information directly into our CRM, myWeichert® powered by kvCORE technology platform. The new contacts can then flow directly into an immediate follow-up campaign.
- Forget to ask if they’re already working with an agent. If they’re not, it’s a great opportunity for potential new business. If they are, it’s also a means for showcasing your business ethics—and to network. If the visitor shares their real estate agent’s name, reach out to introduce yourself. You never know how this new connection will serve you both down the line.
Follow people around. Open house attendees can get scared off if they feel like you’re hovering. But that doesn’t mean you can’t chat with them or remain aware of their presence.Close off any rooms. If the homeowner had decided to use a spare bedroom as a full-on storage unit at the last minute, don’t panic. Turn it into an opportunity to sell yourself—your personality—as you say things like “pardon our appearance” or “as you can see, this is the perfect all-purpose room.” Visitors will be curious and then skeptical of what’s behind any closed doors, so better to find ways to stay ahead of it.
After the open house
There are a few simple but important things to consider as you wrap up the event.
- Close up with safety in mind. If you were able to have a team member join you in working the event, great. You can tag-team and close up together. If not, you can call someone on the phone while you check that the house is clear and empty. If it was a busy open house, you may have lost track of how many people were coming in and, more importantly, out of the home.Remember to follow up. One big mistake many agents make with a real estate open house is failing to follow up with the visitors. If you used a digital sign-in, then the attendees are already in your CRM, and you should put them on a follow-up campaign. If not, make sure you manually input them. Have an email already prepared and ready to send to all attendees. Keep it short and sweet, customize wherever possible, and mention that there are similar homes in the area that you would be happy to show them.
- Forget to follow up! This is not a typo. We’re putting extra emphasis on the last tip above. The most important thing you can do after an open house is follow up. Put steps on your calendar to make sure it doesn’t slip off your radar.Forget about the homeowners. For the sellers, the open house might have been a bittersweet event. Ensure that you exit their home the same way they left it before the open house. Follow up right away with highlights of the event to help focus on the positives, such as number of visitors and overall broker feedback, so they don’t feel like they’re left hanging.
A real estate open house continues to be an effective, fundamental tactic for growing your business. But remember to stay sharp with how you conduct yours. Keep finetuning your own do’s and don’ts with the changing times. Weichert is here to help you along the way.