Published by Jim Droz

Open houses can be effective business tools with a captive audience if they’re handled correctly. Your primary goal is to sell the house you’re standing in, but a potential pipeline of buyers for other properties could be streaming through the front door.

“The biggest mistake Realtors make is not engaging people at the open house in a type of lead-conversion conversation,” said Rich Levin, a real estate coach and teacher based in New York. “It’s a prospecting opportunity, plain and simple. If a person is interested in the house you’re selling, obviously focus on that, but the 90 percent-plus of people who aren’t interested in the house should be engaged in a conversation about what they are looking for and how you can help them.”

Levin said that a face-to-face conversation is much better than a phone call down the line, so agents shouldn’t let prospects get away without finding out the type of property they’re interested in and where and when they are thinking about buying.

“The idea is to get them to make an appointment with you to look at houses,” Levin said. “You don’t have to be pushy, but let them know that using you as their agent is in their best interest. As long as there’s a comfort level between the two of you and you have the type of listings they’re interested in per your discussion, everyone should feel at ease moving forward.”

Levin said a personal touch also works well at open houses. His suggested approach is to greet everyone at the door, thank them for coming, hand them information on the property and tell them about a special feature or two they should notice as they go through the house. It’s also important to ask for their name, phone number and e-mail address, or have them fill out an open house register so you’ll have their contact information.

Levin also suggests setting out extra information about the house on a dining room or kitchen table. Items could include property details, school information and community brochures, but all should prominently include your contact information. The goal, he said, is to encourage visitors to pause, read the information and possibly speak with you, which builds your credibility as an important community and real estate resource.

After visitors have checked out the house on their own, Levin said it’s imperative to ask them if they have any questions. If handled tactfully, this is another prime opportunity to secure them as a client if the house doesn’t suit their needs.

“Open houses can be a dependable flow of leads for your other listings,” Levin said. “When you use an open house effectively as a prospecting opportunity, they can be a tremendous chance to sell more houses and attract more clients.”

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