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Agents Only: How to Make Effective Use of Open Houses

Nov 17, 2017




Back in my days as a newbie, I eagerly jumped at any opportunity to get in front of buyers.

Thankfully, an experienced colleague was willing to train me in exchange for manning her open houses. I was so excited to go to those open houses for her. Even if it meant driving 30-60 minutes or to the other side of the city.

I drove a lot.

And stood in a lot of empty houses.

Luckily, it was back in the days when open houses actually got quality traffic. It was at those events, meeting hundreds of strangers every month, that I learned an important secret.

I discovered how to set myself apart from other agents, and how you can, too.

What The Secret ISN’T

Sellers, buyers, and even agents, often misunderstand the point of open houses, thinking it’s about marketing and selling a home. It’s not.

When people walk into an open house, they’re in most cases in tire-kicking mode. They’re browsing, looking for décor ideas, comparing home features, seeing what their neighbours home looks like, visiting a friends childhood home they spent time in or perhaps to decide what they’re looking for in a home..... maybe even just wanting something fun to do on a weekend afternoon.

They’re not there to buy the house right away (if at all). Write that down on your forehead if you need to. Most agents will tell you they’ve rarely sold a property because of an open house. In my over 25 years, I can count it on one hand. 

Open Houses: What’s the Point

If selling the house isn’t the point, what is?

Most of the time, an open house is done to please sellers and demonstrate that we are using every marketing tool in what they feel is a part of our arsenal. Advertising and hosting an open house makes sellers feel like their home is a priority and they are receiving excellent service and attention.

Years ago, open houses were an opportunity to connect with many buyers in one place. In recent years, thanks to Buyer Representation, online photos, videos and virtual tours, quality traffic is far less and often agents are sometimes left to rattle around in an empty house for hours. It can feel pointless.

But here’s the thing. People DO come.
Even if it’s one person, or one couple.

It’s an opportunity … but do you know how to use it?
Do you open the door and let them in, with the intent to help them or to simply direct traffic all the while giving your attention to your smart device or something other than what lies in front of you at that very moment? 


How to Use the Opportunity Effectively

I’m going to tell you something I do that’s different than a lot of agents.

This thing I do sets me apart in many situations, including open houses. It’s what turns strangers into clients, turns clients into loyal, long-time repeat clients, and plants me in their memory as the guy to go to for real estate.

It’s a simple thing. You might roll your eyes, completely underwhelmed, and say, “Pfft. That’s all?”

Which is kind of why it’s a secret. The power of this method is overlooked and underestimated.  It is simply this: I know that everyone has a problem. I work to find out what the problem is and then work to be the solution. 

It sounds simple, but it require a level of sincere care for others to even find out what their problems are. It requires asking. If you know the problem, you can help. If you can help people solve a problem, they’ll appreciate and trust you. They’ll remember that you cared enough to ask, to explore, and to solve. And you know what they say about how people remember not what you do, but how you make them feel.

That’s the part that lodges in their memory; that they were genuinely heard, seen and cared for. And helped. By me.

Everyone coming through an open house has a concern or need that is drawing them in this direction.
What is their concern? Are they newly married, thinking about children and how they’ll need a bigger home? Do they have aging parents they wish to help downsize?

One client of mine was an emergency room nurse – one of the hardest jobs, in my opinion. She was mentally exhausted from working in that high-stress environment. As we talked, I realized she needed someone to take control of getting information to her to make the house-hunting process easier for her. I did everything I could to meet that need, and she appreciated it a lot. Oddly, no one else had seen that need and offered to fill it.

Another couple awaiting the birth of their first child, she was having a very difficult pregnancy and her husband who was in a very demanding line of work made the task of building their first home overwhelmingly next to impossible. I vetted builders based on their needs and level of build quality they sought and then arranged the face to face meetings with the top 3 of which they hired one and after over 20 years are still in their home, 2 additional children later. 

Anyone can sell a house. 
This profession isn’t about selling ... it’s about caring for people and helping them solve problems.