They are still worth the trouble, as they are a great way to gain exposure for listings to potential buyers and expand your client database. To help you make the most of your inspections, we’ve come up with five important steps to tick off when planning and carrying out your next open for inspection.
Step 1: Market the open house
First and foremost, holding an open-for-inspection is an exercise in marketing and event planning. To get a decent amount of people through the door and increase your chances of finding the right buyer, it is crucial that you spread the word about your event far and wide.
Here are some marketing ideas that go beyond simply putting out directional signs and an A-frame with balloons on the day. To help take your open house to the next level, you should:
Form local alliances
You could try teaming up with other agents who have upcoming inspections in the same area and arrange an open house weekend. Having multiple inspections on offer in the same suburb will draw in more traffic and expand the reach of your combined marketing efforts. Add an element of fun to the weekend by arranging a raffle, giveaways or playing ‘inspection bingo’ where visitors win a prize if they visit every house on the list. You can also try forming partnerships with local businesses. Ask if they can display information about your open house in exchange for giving out coupons for their business at your inspection or some other mutually beneficial trade.
Send out invitations
Think about setting up an exclusive neighbourhood viewing by opening the house an hour early on the day for locals. Send out formal addressed invitations to people in the area and neighbouring suburbs showcasing the photos and details of the listing and special offerings, such as a kid’s corner, tea and coffee or catering to make your open house inviting and stand out. Odds are people who live in the area and want their friends and family to move close by will spread the word for you.
Share on social media
Post the details of your open-for-inspection across all your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn) and community pages that allow you to do so. Also, get the seller on board and have them share your post with their social networks.
Why are most open-for-inspections held at the same time every Saturday morning? Try advertising something different and set yourself apart by offering alternative times or unique offerings to people interested in viewing the home. You could try holding a themed open house on a weeknight, hosting an open house party during a big football game or having catered nibbles for people who come for a look on their lunch hour.
Step 2: Set up the right expectations
Explain the pros and cons of holding an open house to your sellers. Make sure they understand that they won't necessarily get an offer on the day, and that there are risks of damage and theft occurring, but at the end of the day having traffic and attention on their house is a good thing for attracting surprise interest and more potential buyers. Also, clarify that during the open house you may also come across buyers that are suited to other homes you have listed.
Step 3: Prepare the home and marketing collateral
Ensure the house looks its best for inspection day by making sure it is clean, uncluttered, deodorised and staged well inside and out. Some agents even go to the extreme of giving their sellers a list of tasks to complete before the house can be opened for inspection. Also, remind sellers to lock away valuables (credit cards and jewellery), weapons and prescription medications to prevent them from theft.
On the day, make sure you get there early enough to set everything up and make any minor tweaks to the staging or last minute cleaning if needed. Ensure the doors are open, all the lights are on and everything looks as neat as possible.
You should also have something for visitors to take away with them so they can easily get in touch with you. Hand out a double-sided, A4-sized glossy flyer highlighting the home’s features, land size, room dimensions, floor plan, photographs of popular neighbourhood amenities, a map showing the location of the nearest stores, schools, public transport and other important facilities and landmarks, and your contact details, of course.
Step 4: Collect contact information and make follow-ups
Set up a system for registering and recording clients’ details (name, phone number, type of buyer and email) as they enter the property. Use whatever you’re most comfortable with and works best for you – some people still use a clipboard and pen to sign in visitors where others prefer something more hi-tech like an iPad app. Signing in viewers serves a dual purpose: 1) it can give you some peace of mind to have their details recorded from a safety point and 2) it gives you a way to add potential clients into your database for following up in the future.
Also, try chatting with visitors on their way out to see what they thought, gauge their level of interest, get immediate feedback on the home and answer any questions they may have. It’s also worthwhile sending a follow-up email or making a follow-up call the next day to see if they are interested in the property or if they are qualified buyers for any of your other listings.
Step 5: Be safe
Remember, there’s safety in numbers, so consider partnering up with another agent at your office to run the open-for-inspection together if you’re worried about sitting in a home alone. Better yet, enlist the help of a trusted lender to come and offer advice on the spot, to help you feel safer. It is also wise to pre-plan an escape route if something does happen and avoid being alone in rooms with no exit. Having attendees sign in also helps you assist police in the event of damage, theft or a break-in. If you suspect someone of theft, consider taking down their licence plate and requesting to see photo ID.
If you plan, prepare and do something to set your open house apart, you're bound to impress your sellers and potential buyers. Going about an open-for-inspection in the right way is a great way to boost your database of clients and gauge the interest in the market place for your listing and others like it.