By Walter Sanford
I can show you how to have fun and how to meet every seller and buyer in the neighborhood. In the same step, I can show you how to create a massive personal promotional campaign and form an alliance with your lender while being a hero to your sellers. After fifteen years of doing these open houses and watching others do them, here is my finished system:
1. Assemble no more than eight properties for a 15-minute open house. Get homes that have something in common, i.e.: same general price, size, or all within your local historical district. Keep them within a mile of each other if possible.
2. Have two salespeople in the home while its going on with an ample supply of brochures and maps.
3. Contact your lender and request his/her services for pre-quals and see if you can get their help in a joint ads and giveaway.
4. Give a ticket to visitors for every home. All tickets will be put in a bowl at the end of the tour. At the last home, we will pull out one ticket and the lucky visitor will win a $100.00 gift certificate to the new local restaurant.
5. Counsel the sellers on what it means to have a "show ready" home. Explain to your lender that their real job is to quickly determine buyers from sellers. Then they are to sort the ready buyers from the not so ready buyers and introduce only the ready buyers and sellers to me. The contest tickets will be the foundation of your database. Place the ad so it runs a week before the event.
6. Get out the reverse directory and invite ten neighbors, via postcard, from around the block of the homes on tour.
7. You will need a minimum of ten yard signs that need to put up at least five days before the event with your name and a place to the open house, date and time. I had chalkboard signs made up after I got tired of taping paper signs over my regular signs! You might want some directional signs for the tour.
8. You, your lender, and one helper (family member is okay) are at house number one. It is not unusual to have 20 - 40 people waiting to get in. You let them in and the fifteen minutes are up. Your helper stays behind to clean up and lock up.
9. You and your lender go to house number two. You and your lender are both pre-qualing and pressing the flesh like crazy!
10. House number three is across the street from a competitor's listing. The seller of that house is out mowing the lawn. He sees 85 people go into the home across the street (the pied piper effect) and he goes in to call his listing agent to ask where his buyers are!
As you move on to new houses, you are meeting more sellers and buyers - some want you to make an appointment with them! At house number four, two buyers come up to you at the same time and tell you they "love this home!" Both see each other and return to separate rooms to plan their acquisition strategy.
You get to house seven -- but wait, in the newspaper ad, house seven was only listed as a SECRET, NEVER BEFORE SEEN, SUPER BONUS LISTING ! It's true. I actually called two FSBOs, whose houses met the criteria, negotiated a fee over the phone and told them to get their homes ready for a lot of buyers at 3pm! Those FSBOs haven't seen or heard that many buyers in one place, except in urban legends. You're a hero!
Everyone has a great time. The nice young couple wins the dinner at the last home. Your helper picks up the signs and flags then you sit down to look at your winnings!
Both FSBOs thought it was great, and one of them wants to talk to you in a week. You double ended one of the properties by the Wednesday after the event, and one of the lookers brought their agent back to see house number five again. All of the sellers cannot believe the amount of activity. You have two "down the road" new sellers to follow-up with. Three "ready to buy" new buyers that are pre-qualified have appointments with you this week. Your lender has a couple of refis and some more buyers to work with on financing challenges, plus all the new business you are going to give him/her!
You now have new database entries to add to your follow-up system, and don't forget to write thank you letters to everyone. Don't forget the sellers! Call the local paper and tell them about the success - maybe they will cover the next one. Maybe you can start a local neighborhood renaissance.