Why Open Houses are really listing auditions

Young estate agent invites customers to view house

One of the major mistakes most real estate agents make is to separate in their own head the idea that the most valuable time is spent prospecting for new business and listings, while the rest of is spent servicing existing clients by helping them find a buyer.

The thinking goes that time spent touting for new clients is highly valuable while the time spent at open houses and following up on potential buyers can be tedious, avoided on occasion, and if there is a scheduling clash, delegated to a junior staff member.

But new research – the Perceptions of Real Estate Agents Survey 2015 from CoreLogic – shows that such a bias can be dangerous and ultimately, counter-productive.

The Perceptions report identified that one of the most powerful prospecting tools in an agent’s toolkit is an open house. The report shows that 58% of those surveyed were influenced to choose their agent after seeing him or her successfully sell another property. A further 36% were influenced by family or friends who’d had a good experience with an agent.

These two things completely outranked any other kind of influencer. The third most influential factor was an agents website or portal – but that was rated by only 18% of respondents (respondents could nominate multiple influences). Local signboards attributed for 12% of the influence, while social media was in low single digits at just 3%. Dropcards, door knocking? Forget about it!

The role of open for inspections was key in this experience. It’s here where most vendors first encounter an agent for the first time. But many agents do not recognise them because they don’t have their Vendor hat on at this stage. They’re attending the open as a neighbour, as a drive-by after seeing a dream property advertised, as a potential buyer because their wife has always really loved this property.

But the experience you give them in this regard can make or break an agent. Do you welcome them at the door? Do you engage them in conversation? Provide them with information about the property? Do you take their details? Do you find out genuinely why they have come? What type of property they are looking for? Does this property tick any of their boxes? And most importantly, do you follow them up like you say you’re going to?

Or do you jot down a few details, stress about the number of people coming through the door, run out of brochures, worry about being late to the next appointment and get caught up on Monday, so never get around to calling everyone.

The number of agents who fall at this post is ridiculously high. But it is a key differentiator between the good agents and the great agents. Your potential vendors are watching you now, even when you don’t think it is important. And they are judging you.

Great agents understand that every Open House is an audition. They are on stage. Every buyer, or tyre kicker or interested bystander who walks through the door is a potential vendor. The way they are treated as a buyer at an open home is indicative of the kind of treatment potential buyers of their home can expect to receive.

Put simply, if you fail the open house test, it doesn’t matter how fantastic your sales patter is, you won’t even be invited to pitch – your next vendor has already judged your performance from the buyer side of the equation and found it lacking.

So agents who dismiss or belittle the importance of open houses are effectively cutting themselves off from an extremely rich source of potential vendors.

Other research from the Perceptions survey underpinned this. The survey shows that 68% of vendors would recommend their agent. Even vendors who had “only” a “good” experience are likely to recommend you if they think you worked hard for them.

The survey shows 31% of vendors reported that their experience of selling their home was “excellent” while a further 35% said it was “good”. But that also means that 36% found the experience was “average” (20%) or “poor” – and this is the third of the market that will tell everyone which agents they should avoid like the plague.

The report also shows how – like open homes – it’s the basic things done well and done consistently that really differentiate a good agent from a great agent. Things like communication (which includes listening as well as talking), empathy for the stress vendors are going through and seeking to alleviate it, transparency about your processes, championing your vendors and using data and fact based conversations to help vendors understand the market.

These are all things any agent can do and every agent can master to win vendor approval that in many cases can last a lifetime.

Download a copy of the full Consumer Perceptions of Real Estate Report

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