OK, I'm noticing a couple of things reading through many Active Rain postings and listening to agents in my market area of Washington, DC.
First, many agents seem to think Open Houses are a waste of time. And a lot of their arguements sound pretty good.
Most qualified prospects are working with buyer brokers, they argue, and their agent will add my listing to their show list if they think it's a good fit. People who show up on Sunday are mostly nosy neighbors or bad guys who want to steal prescription drugs from the medicine cabinets. It's becoming more of a buyers' market (in this area it's really becoming a balanced market) and the best way to expose listings is on the Internet where most o the buyers seem to be deciding what to look at.
I think that, for many agents, Opens are a big time and money waster. But Opens can be a great business generator. For a while in the early 1990's, I worked for Weichert Real Estate after Jim Weichert bought my old company. He was a strong believer in Open Houses, and he taught his agents to do it right. I'm no longer with that company, but I did pick up some good habits. Here are some of the things I learned -
Their company colors were black and a really gaudy yellow. Each office had a helium tank and a carton of gaudy yellow balloons and string. We filled them with hot air and tied them to the gaudy yellow For Sale sign in the front yard. They got noticed. And I grew to love that particular shade of yellow that could attract bugs at night. OK, so now my new company's signs are more tasteful, but in areas where it's legal, I tie on a few gaudy red balloons.
We were encouraged to send between 20 and 50 Open House cards or flyers to the neighbors or to a nearby "move up" neighborhood. I had several listings sell when nosy neighbors brought friends or colleagues with them. I got several listings in move up neighborhoods.
And it was admittedly a great way to pick up buyers, and now with the market a little slower than it's been in years, I want to pick up buyers.
Here's what happened at my last Open House -
First, the house sold to people who came to the open. Their agent had been showing them places they'd have to eat soy beans forever to afford in a whole other part of town. They'd met friends for brunch, seen the sign and dropped in.
Second, at least 15 couples and individuals came through who were not yet working with agents. So, yes, I did pick up buyers.
Both the sellers and I did our homework before the Open House. It looked fabulous inside and out, without being overly staged. The perscription drugs were out of the medicine cabinet and hidden in a safe place. In addition to th Washington Post, we used the local MLS open house notices (they are also on the public web site and lots of people are using it) and Craigs List.
So it was win-win. The sellers got their house sold. I picked up a bunch of buyers - a really good thing in a slowing market!