1. Marketing and advertising: Gone are the days of calling the newspaper and placing one ad. The newspaper directory of Open Houses is still a decent value in Chattanooga, TN. If you are an owner then use Craigslist, Zillow and Trulia to your list. Realtor’s add http://www.Realtor.com to your list. All the online venues are no charge and can be very effective.
2. Directional signs and balloons: Get people off the main roads to your open house. You may think that home purchasing is not an impulse buy, but it is emotional and I have had folks trade homes over open house visits. Make sure you are not blocking the view of traffic getting out on main roads. You do not want to be the sign that causes people to curse while turning into traffic.
3. Preparing the property: Don’t forget to spruce up the place and make the walk from the drive to the front door as welcoming as possible.
4. Involve the senses: This is retail. So best you can, involve good smells (cinnamon sticks in water on stove), or take a sheet of cookies to bake in the oven. Music, appropriate to the space and target audience. Make sure all the lights and accent lamps are on.
5. Register: Tell your guests that the owner prefers that visitors sign in. You want to follow up with these folks in an appropriate way. Paper registers work fine and there are some iPad apps (one is Open Home Pro $14.99) out for real estate agents that even engage shoppers after the fact. A key question should be “how did you find out about the Open House event?”
6. Security: Real estate agents must be aware of risks both personally and for the seller. Owners of property, please know that some predators and thieves are looking for jewelry, and medications in bathroom cabinets. A ploy may have you distracted with one member of the party while another goes to another un-watched room. Real estate agents may want to partner up for safety, and remember your local mortgage originator may want to help for their business as well. Your cell phone can be your friend. Apps such as Real Alert and Moby offer 911, recording features, alarm, location notification, and creeper recording info to help you.
7. Brochures: Buyers like to have something in hand to help them remember what they have seen. Having a page with pictures help them to remember the property as well as you.
8. Attitude: Open house events are for the convenience of home shoppers, not yours. So I prepare to work and bring my laptop and notecards prepared to get things done between visitors. When a guest comes in, time to bring your smile and charm. Think about your favorite restaurants and hotels and the greeting you receive. Time to dish out copious measures of warmth to these folks that have taken time out of their busy lives to see this home.
9. Time: Open houses are for the seller and convenience of home buyers. Many open house shoppers will buy a house within 6 months of their visit. Follow up is a key. Jim Weichert has built a large real estate company in the New England area on measured activity. One huge activity is 4 hour open houses on Saturday and Sunday. One and two hour open houses allow some marketing punch, but to me are more for the real estate agent or seller who is interested more in their own free time. Why not schedule open houses during the week or evening?
Open houses are a great way to engage with people and help to create an environment promoting “fear of loss” and activity, and helps the seller keep a spirit of welcome hospitality. A genuine welcoming spirit doing the discussed above activities is how to do an open house as a Realtor or a seller/owner.