I think back to the very first open house I ever visited, before I was in possession of my own bright shiny real estate license. One Sunday afternoon, I was driving around a neighborhood in my new home city of Denver, pre-approval in hand for a loan up to $119,000. Oh, it was an exciting time.
I stopped in front of a house with a big OPEN HOUSE sandwich board prominently displayed on the sidewalk. Walked in, was greeted by a friendly real estate agent named Monica. Monica gave me a brochure and invited me to look around. I did. I liked what I saw. I expressed my enthusiasm to Monica, who smiled. She agreed that it was, indeed, a fine house, but unfortunately there were already multiple offers on it; she was just holding it open because she’d advertised the open house in the paper and didn’t want to be a no-show.
Well, bummer. I really liked the house.
“Well,” said Monica, “have you seen the one at 3943 Valley? It’s similar to this one, but has a second bath. There’s another nice home in this price range at 4401 Clay and it has a garage! And my office has a new listing coming up this week sometime that has…”
My eyes lit up. All was not lost? There were other houses as wonderful as this one? And this magical all-knowing creature could help me get one for myself?
Oh, yes, Monica assured me. There were indeed other wonderful houses and she would be absolutely delighted to help me get one for myself.
I excitedly offered my name and phone number to Monica without her even asking for them. I was happy to do so and she, of course, was happy to take them. She said she had to finish up her open house, but would contact me later with more information.
(Keep in mind this was before the era of online MLS listings, so I was truly dependent on Monica for that information. It’s different today, obviously, but the philosophy is the same)
I raced home and literally waited by the phone to hear from Monica. And, lo and behold, the phone rang! It was her! As promised!
Monica showed me several houses and I bought one fairly quickly. Over the next two years I bought three more, using Monica as my agent.
So, how did Monica get my precious contact information and, later, my loyal business (before I got my own real estate license, that is)? Did she coerce me into providing it with promises of lovely gift baskets or free market reports? Did she risk offending me with a request to sign in “for security purposes”?
None of the above.
She inspired me to give her my contact information because she had something I truly wanted. Information. Expertise. Access. And we hit it off well enough during our conversation for me to be able to envision myself working with her.
Your goal when prospecting at an open house is not to pry conversation and contact information from an unwilling visitor; it’s to inspire him or her to want to talk with you today and to take your phone calls in the future.
So, how do you do that? How do you inspire a perfect stranger to think of you as someone they’d like to hear from again?
Well, first, having a conversational familiarity with the immediate neighborhood is huge. Projecting a confident, yet casual air of being a neighborhood expert is probably the best way to turn open house visitors into buyer clients.
It also helps to have a reasonable familiarity with other similar neighborhoods to offer as alternatives to visitors if they find that this particular neighborhood is too expensive for their budget.
So, how do you 1) acquire this conversational familiarity with the immediate (and alternative) neighborhoods, and 2) casually and confidently demonstrate your expertise?
Acquiring and Communicating Your Expertise
The best way to learn a neighborhood is to be out in it. To know the inventory because you’ve seen it, smelled it, touched it. There’s a big difference between the knowledge you’ll gain by physically seeing, smelling and touching the inventory versus simply studying the facts and figures of the inventory on your MLS. Yes, even though the MLS listing probably includes interior and exterior photographs in the listing, nothing beats getting face to face, so to speak, with the real estate in your market.
Once you’ve acquired your market expertise, it’s pretty easy to communicate that expertise to an open house visitor.
Demonstrating your market expertise is best accomplished by simply talking about other houses and neighborhoods that compare favorably with the one you’re holding the open house in. Casually, without any hidden agenda; just as a professional real estate agent who knows the market and enjoys talking about it. If, as Monica did with me, you can offer up a few other homes or neighborhoods that might work for the visitor (without sounding hopeful, pushy or desperate!), they might just decide you’re The One for them!
Guest Author Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn has authored multiple books and courses designed to teach agents her Sell with Soul philosophy that centers on four interrelated principles: Respect, Competence, Confidence and Enthusiasm. The latest release of her book is available in the VanEd bookstore. You can also visit her online at www.sellwithsoul.com or attend one of her free teleseminars on a variety of topics of interest to the real estate community.