Running a real estate open house can often feel like more trouble than it’s worth, and it’s true that a lot of work goes into them. Setting a date, spreading the word, and making the house presentable all take time, and sometimes it simply doesn’t result in a sale.
However, the practice is very popular for good reason. Although it may sound counterintuitive, real estate open houses have a lot more to offer than simply closing a sale! Realtors can use open houses for lead generation, to conduct market research, to gain exposure in local markets, and to introduce additional listings.
Let’s take a look at the specific opportunities in each case.
1. Real estate open houses boost lead generation efforts
There are a number of reasons people tend to visit open houses. Sometimes, people stop by simply out of curiosity with no intention of actually buying a house. Potential buyers often stop by to get a sense of the quality of houses in a particular neighborhood, again, without necessarily wanting to buy that particular house, and other agents often take a look at real estate open houses to scope out their competition.
Of course, people do visit open houses when they’re considering buying the house, but it’s clear that a sizeable amount of visitors aren’t genuine prospects — and that’s OK.
Real estate open houses are a great way to meet people who are looking for a home but are in the early stages of their journey. The young couple getting a feel for the neighborhood might not be in a position to buy this time, but they’ll make great leads for the future when they’ve made progress with their mortgage application, so it’s important to treat everyone like a prospective client at an open house.
Our Spacio tool was designed to capture leads in situations like these. The app gathers contact details and other information from people who stop by open houses. Spacio allows you to customize the questions you ask on the lead form, so be sure to include questions that help you identify hot leads. For example, ask questions like:
- How long have you been looking for a home?
- Have you been pre-approved for a mortgage? If so, what’s your budget?
- Are you working with an agent?
The information your leads enter into the app automatically uploads to your CRM. You can add in additional notes to the CRM on each individual lead to help you nurture them. For example, take note of the following:
- Neighborhoods they prefer
- Timeline to move
- Features they’re looking for (size of the home, neighborhood amenities, etc.)
The best practice here is to create an email campaign focused on nurturing leads, so you can share information like new listings they might be interested in, your track record as an agent, and testimonials from past clients.
2. Real estate open houses simplify market research
Market research is vital in real estate. Reading through published surveys can be very informative, but a great way to conduct your own research into buyers’ needs and wants is, of course, to ask them! Real estate open houses offer an interactive, personalized way for you to meet people who are in the market to buy a house and to get to know what they’re looking for.
For example, if you specialize in helping millennials find condos, you could ask questions about the types of building amenities they want, the max limit of HOA fees they’re willing to pay, and their preferred location. The more people you ask, the clearer the needs of this audience becomes.
Agents use research to understand how to price properties, how to market them in different neighborhoods, and how to evaluate the level of demand for homes in individual areas. Traditional market research includes an in-depth analysis of the properties in different neighborhoods.
Buyers are interested in factors like the size of a house and the distance to amenities, like schools, grocery stores, entertainment, and restaurants. The fees for the local homeowners association (HOA) are also taken into account in many cases. Comparative analysis of homes that sell in different areas allows you to gain granular insights into the market by looking at things like sale price vs. sold price, the time on the market before sale, price reductions involved in a sale, and the number of offers placed on a home before the final sale. These key data points enable you to learn what buyers want in a home, allowing you to strategize and price accordingly.
To do this, simply talk to open house visitors upfront when they arrive to view the property. Ask them what they like and don’t like about the property or what their ideal home would look like. Here’s a comprehensive list of 44 questions to ask potential buyers when they visit a property; while you probably don’t want to swamp visitors with all of these questions in one go, you could follow up with an email survey if you gather their details into the Spacio app first. With the information they provide, you’re not just learning about the market but also about your ideal customers, so you can better serve them and close more deals.
3. Real estate open houses give agents exposure in local markets
Online ads and social media updates are a great way to generate exposure for agents and their listings, but not everyone in their target audience will see this content. Agents, especially those with listings in neighborhoods they haven’t worked in before, can use real estate open houses to generate more exposure for themselves. Here are a few offline ways to catch the attention of potential buyers:
Use for sale signs with head shots on them
Some for sale signs have a clear bin attached with sell sheets inside. So even if there isn’t an open house, people walking or driving by can stop and pick up a sell sheet that includes details about the agent and the property. Here’s a guide on how to take the perfect realtor headshot.
Canvas the neighborhood
You can canvas the neighborhood to promote upcoming open houses and to find neighbors who are thinking of selling. These neighbors may not have an agent yet, so canvasing introduces them to new agents and gives possible clients a place to start at the same time. It’s also a good idea to ask for referrals — these neighbors may know someone looking for an agent too.
Leave business cards and flyers
Leaving flyers promoting real estate open houses in local grocery stores, fast food restaurants, convenience stores, and other places with a lot of foot traffic is a great way to reach prospective clients who may be thinking of buying or selling a house.
Some agents also put flyers in the mailboxes of the neighbors. These flyers might include images of homes the agent has sold along with the sale price — you can also include a calendar that has a magnetic business card attached to the top, so clients can stick it to their fridge.
4. Real estate open houses allow you to share additional listings
The primary goal of a real estate open house is typically to sell the listing you’re showing. But if it doesn’t meet the needs of visitors who are actively looking, an open house is a great opportunity to share, in person, the additional properties your agency has listed. While prospective buyers can easily glance over an online ad without looking any further, being able to talk to them about the other options available to them is hard to beat.
You can use the information visitors share during your conversation to gauge what they’re looking for and offer to show them another property. Again, don’t be shy to either solicit a sign-up to Spacio to make the process easier for all parties or to take notes and add them to your CRM later on.
One thing worth noting here is that agents have to tread carefully with this approach — clients are expecting you to sell their home at an open house, not to use it as a platform to sell other properties. However, of the many potential buyers at an open house, only one of them will ever be buying it, so if there are other buyers who don’t see exactly what they want in a home, you should try to cater to their needs as well as those of your client.
The upside to doing this is that it’s a two-way street — you can let your clients know that you and/or your agents will also be using open houses of other properties as an opportunity to advertise their home to prospective buyers as well.
This approach also benefits greatly from the use of an email list. You can gather visitor contact details and send them listings with comments that make it clear why the homes might be a good fit. Use your market research to offer clients exactly the kinds of properties they’re interested in, making this approach a vast improvement over other methods, which often involve spamming irrelevant properties to many clients.
Sending a thank you email after the event is also a great time to offer a link to your custom branded search app. They will appreciate a tool for searching additional properties on their own terms and the ability to reach out with questions when they come up.
Use real estate open houses to strengthen your business
By facilitating personalized experiences like these for clients, as well as allowing you to gather leads, network with people, and conduct vital research, real estate open houses allow you to explore avenues far beyond selling an individual house. You can use them to significantly grow your network and deliver meaningful, relevant information to the right clients at the right time, leading to a more rewarding and efficient business model.