ANALYSIS - Agents challenge ‘traditional’ open house viewings

Agents are employing innovative tactics to entice more buyers to a property, explains Real Estate Business’ Matthew Sullivan

If an open house is still your preferred way of displaying a listing to prospective buyers then you may quickly find yourself falling behind the competition.

Brock Harcourts Semaphore sales consultant Jo-Anne Rowe decided to buck the trend by hosting what she called a “closed open home” for a Tennyson, South Australia-based property.

“I decided to use a unique invitation-only approach,” Ms Rowe says.

“It was excellent,” she says. “The vendors were extremely happy with the turn out and all the potential buyers received their very own VIP experience.”

The invitation only event, which included food and beverages, followed an online marketing campaign that deliberately displayed little to no information on the house, a tactic that Ms Rowe considers to be “like a movie trailer.”

“The property was placed online but there was no address, no price and only a select few images,” Ms Rowe says.

“This was deliberate as everybody who was interested in the house was forced to contact me for more information and was invited to the event. I also selected clients from my database to attend and invited the neighbours.”

Cairns-based FNQ Hot Property specialises in waterfront properties in the city’s Bluewater estate, something that led principal Nathan Shingles to offer potential home buyers their own personal boat trip (pictured) around the estate.

“This unique marketing approach has been very successful for the agency,” Mr Shingles told Real Estate Business. “We are now known as market leaders and have the majority of listings and sales around the canal estate.”

Over the year, FNQ Hot Property has seen sales increase by 30 per cent, which Mr Shingles attributes largely to the group’s unique marketing approach.

“All vendors and home buyers love the experience,” Mr Shingles says. “It is almost like they become locked into us after the experience.”

“Most waterfront properties look better on the side facing the water, so this is a great way for us to highlight the home’s most attractive features.”

The trend is not restricted to open house inspections.

J.P Dixon Mentone director Michael Moretti recently employed a jazz band to soothe the nerves of nervous home buyers attending a Parkdale, Melbourne auction.

“The jazz band simply creates a different atmosphere for an otherwise tense and at times stressful event,” Mr Moretti says.

“Home buyers at times can be scared or nervous to put their hands up at an auction; the jazz band sets a relaxed environment for all parties involved.”

Mr Moretti was also able to achieve a sizeable crowd, which impressed his clients.

“In today’s market, which is relatively flat, you are lucky to get 30 people to attend an auction,” he says. “At the Parkdale auction we managed to get just under 100 people and as a result we successfully sold the property.

Glen Coutinho, director of hockingstuart Hawthorn, has been using similar initiatives.

“Offering coffee or a sausage sizzle is a simple and cost effective way to create a positive and relaxed environment,” he says.

“Thirty minutes before the auction I will walk through the crowd, talk to the bidders and share a sausage sandwich to move away from the ‘us and them’ situation.”

For more expensive properties, Mr Coutinho often employs the help of what he calls “our little red girls”.

“The ladies, dressed all in red [the colours of hockingstuart], walk around and bring bidders coffee and pastries, chat to the vendors and just add a bit of fun.”



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