Those of you who know me know I’m passionate about open house conversion. When I got started in the real estate business at the age of 18, I didn’t have any great leads. I didn’t have any money to spend on marketing, but I needed to meet people. I needed to meet buyers and sellers so holding open houses became a great way to access those buyers and sellers without spending a lot of money. Now granted, I didn’t have any listings, so my broker helped me arrange to hold open houses other agents didn’t want to hold, which was fine with me. I didn’t care if it was my listing or not – I wanted to meet those great prospects. Doing this was so effective for me that I never gave it up. In fact, during my entire real estate career, it was common for me to take Friday off and hold an open house every Saturday and Sunday because on average I would sell about four houses a month from holding open houses and I probably held 1500 or more open houses in my career.
But how does this relate to luxury listings? Why would we need to discuss open house conversion? It seems so basic. Exactly. It is basic and yet many of the luxury agents I coach ask for help with open house conversion.
Think about it, today’s luxury sellers and buyers often begin their searches online, may be using a handler or their schedules are not conducive to attending an open house let alone engaging with you and giving you their information. And, even if they’ll come and look, they are tougher to convert. Plus, we all know you only have a few minutes to make a great impression.
So how do we ensure an increase in open house conversion?
First, you need to set a goal for your open house and commit to it. I recommend the following:
- Identify at least 2 quality prospects
- Set appointments with them before they leave
- Meet within 48 hours and show them 1-2 properties
- Collect as many names and numbers as possible to call the next day
Once you set and commit to your open house goals, you need to take the appropriate steps to achieve them.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you work to achieve your goals:
1. Make your open house buyer-centric vs. house-centric
What do I mean by this? Well, how centric would it be if you came to my open house and I tried to force the house on you? Let’s say you walk in the door and I immediately begin with, “This is why the house is great and these are the amazing features, and this is the benefit to you and why it is a good deal.” And then I ask, “Would you like to buy this house?” I should really gear my focus more on building rapport with the buyer and getting into the buyer’s head so I can determine if the buyer wants to buy the house. And, if they don’t want to buy the house now, I can build a relationship with them and sell them something else.
2. Perfect your approach
Now, this may not be a good approach for you, but I’ll tell you what my approach was. I knew when I saw someone drive up, I didn’t want to be sitting when they came in, but I also didn’t want to pounce on them at the door.
See, I don’t believe that I should rush to the door, look them in the eye and do the firm handshake because quite frankly, many of us work markets where we have mixed cultures. The “look them in the eye” and the firm handshake is American culture. It doesn’t translate. For example, if it’s someone who is of Japanese descent, they don’t want to shake my hand.
A good rule of thumb is to let them make the first approach. Smile! Be charming and interested in them without being pushy. Tell them to make themselves at home; it relaxes them subconsciously. Be helpful but don’t hover. Give them a bit of space.
3. Have your “go-to” rapport-building and discovery questions prepared.
Ask questions in a conversational way to build rapport and gather information. “Have you seen many open houses today?” “I’m curious, do you live in the area now?” “Have you been looking long?” “What size were you looking for?” “What questions about this home can I answer for you?” Find ways to highlight the benefits of why they should talk to you and work with you. Find your hook to get them locked into you!
4. Ditch the sign-in sheet or app and use only as a last resort.
I personally do not believe in pushing a sign-in sheet or app on people the minute they walk in the door. Why? Because they don’t want to do it. They just don’t want to do it. Especially at a luxury open house. They’re going to resist you and it’s going to break rapport and chances are they’re not going to give you correct or complete information. Have a conversation and build the rapport. Earn the right to collect their information.
5. Find your hook.
Why do they resist you? They think they can hunt on their own. Your hook: pocket inventory and your willingness to hunt and find hidden gems. Luxury buyers want an area expert, so demonstrate your knowledge.
6. Don’t just send them on a search of the house – remember, you need to hunt them!
This likely means pressing a bit harder and following up a bit more aggressively than you are comfortable doing.
Remember your goal: to leave the open house with 2 appointments set for within the next 48 hours and as many names and numbers as possible to call the next day!
7. Follow up at least 5 times before moving them from the front burner.
We all know there are pros and cons to holding open houses.
The pro is they are virtually free, although luxury open houses take more of an investment than a regular open house. Regardless, you are sitting there for free and people are coming to you.
The con is you cannot always control the quality or quantity of people at an open house.
So how do you make the most of your open house? Below are my 3 secrets:
SECRET #1: Maximize your traffic
SECRET #2: Successfully capture their information
SECRET #3: Effective follow up!
- You need to make sure you maximize your traffic.
Study the area and data and have switch properties ready that are larger or smaller you can take them to.
- Use a broadcast app to circle prospects.
An app like Slydial allows you to leave a voicemail without calling (or even dialing a number) enabling you to better communicate with potential and existing clients in a time-efficient way. You can even prerecord a message and deliver it to 10 contacts at a time.
- If you properly market your open house, it can supply both buyer and seller leads because a seller may come through who is a buyer but also has something they need to sell.
- Offer a sneak preview to the neighbors.
Have your seller give you the opportunity to do a one-week or two-week prelaunch to invite the neighbors in to meet them. This will ensure additional quality time and conversations to take place—especially with a luxury listing. One of our luxury clients does this from 10 to Noon on a Saturday and they serve loads of muffins and invite the neighbors to join them. Then they offer market updates and information and it gives them a chance to really talk to the neighbors coming through. Some of our luxury clients will hold a Thursday evening wine and hors d’oeuvre event to launch there is a new listing in the community. Not all sellers will want to do this, so you’ll need to take it case by case, but it’s very effective.
- Implement a “Neighbors Know Best” campaign.
When you are inviting people to the open house, one of the best rejection free door-knocking scripts is what we call our “Neighbors Know Best” campaign.
It is also powerful to use with the neighbors at your prelaunch or sneak preview event. The goal is to collect information from the neighbors on what they love about the area and the community and why they love living there. You can then compile their comments into a marketing brochure to give to prospective buyers. It’s a great way to market the home, keep the sales price high and engage the neighbors in conversation. It’s easy because the neighbors will talk about how long they’ve lived there and where they’ve moved from, which gives you a perfect opportunity to say, “If you ever were to move, where would you go next?”
- If you receive several RSVPs to your invitations or are in an area where the open house will draw a lot of traffic, you may want to consider having a backup host to ensure you don’t lose any leads.
The host doesn’t necessarily need to be licensed as they will simply be helping to meet and greet and gather information. If they are licensed, you will need to work out if you are sharing leads with them, alternating leads, etc. Or, you could have a lender participate with you because the lender could pick them up for a loan and you could pick them up for a buyer.
This ensures you don’t lose any leads if it’s busy.
- Think of the open house as your mobile office.
If it’s slow, call the neighbors and invite them to come by and invite anyone in your database who may be a match.
Do a video walkthrough and promote your open house as an Instagram story. Run a Facebook live stream of the open house. Focus on your goal and get as much work done as you can and remember to collect as many names and numbers as possible.
If you want more guidance on how to grow your luxury real estate practice, you can learn more about the Institute’s training options here.