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Jonathan Osm…, Real Estate Pro in Charlotte, NC

Agents: Broker open houses & caravans are making a comeback here? Got any tips to make them more successful?

Asked by Jonathan Osman, Charlotte, NC Thu Oct 18, 2007

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I am curious to hear about BOH in other areas and if refreshments are important. I would also like to know if drawings or incentives are used to promote attendance. We are thinking about doing a season long drawing next year for a substantial prize vs. a prize at one OH.

Are email announcements helpful or annoying?

Sorry Jonathan, I am asking more than answering. So, TU for a good Q!

I have mixed feelings on food, prize drawings, and pre-broker open marketing support.

As an attendee, I visit, in this order
1) Properties that meet the criteria of active buyers
2) Properties within my immediate core/farm area that are of interest to me (comp purposes, awesome properties, brokers or people I know)
3) Other properties in my farm area - to keep up to date.
4) Properties I think will gain a lot of market attention.
5) Fringe areas outside my farm if any time remains.

I don't know that food, marketing, or prizes impact my decisions much. Perhaps because the "WOW" factor has not been substantial enough. The food is usually deli style, and the prize is $25 gift certificate. I am busy and neither of those types of things will get me to create a schedule around them. The above pertains to typical BOH on a weekday morning.

In order to promote a special property, an event can be quite successful. A "By-Invitation-Only" BOH or even Public Open, with refreshment, or entertainment or noteworthy guest (like a harpist ...or a historian present during the event to discuss the property history and area history.) Special events are only special when you do them occasionally.

We once were in the planning stages of a special open house event for a waterfront property, and we sold it/ A yacht broker was going to bring a vessel and park it at the dock, allowing tours. Refreshments were going to be served outside. It never happened, and I have no complaints. It sold!

With the ease of computer graphic programs, coming up w/ special invitations and mailers is quite doable.
7 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 18, 2007
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Brick, NJ
I am going to hold an agent open house. I will be giving something of use to the agents. While agents here all seem to have great websites, I don't see a strong presence in the area of agents venturing to new web opportunities ie blogging listing on various free sites etc. I will be having four homes on my tour. At each homesite you will get a tidbit of information with a presentation at the last house. This will be with lunch of course, and not deli style! Hot lunch with great homemade deserts! I will let you know how it turn out. I am calling it a "LOOK AND LEARN AGENT OPEN HOUSE"
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3 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 18, 2007
Ginger... I feel it comes back to who comes to the BOH. There not effective if the agents that come have no clients. I feel there are so many other avenues to bring attention to a listing than a BOH. I think in any price point, the best BOH are when you are very specific on who is invited and make it worth coming too for them. You need to get to the agents that have competing listings and that have buyers.

Here in Altanta, I think they tend to help the higher end homes better than any other price range because that is typically a slower market but 2007 proved to be a stronger market for high end. With that being said, if your middle range market is harder hit then a properly targeted BOH may be beneficial but not necessary as I do feel a home will be shown according to buyers needs and price points.

I think the key here is for a listing agent to target agents with buyers and with competing listings or agents with listings where their seller could very well be your listings buyer.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 5, 2008
My best tip for a successful open house is to be sure to post it on Trulia, Zillow and For the past year I have been tracking where the people are coming from and those outrank newspaper by a long shot.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 19, 2013
The benefit of BOH is completely dependant on the personality of the community of real estate professional in your area. As you know 20% does 80% of the business. This is 'kinda' important. But, the good news is, we all know who they are, in additon to the "B" and "C" list.
It takes a pro every bit of 7 minutes to get a feel for a homes attributes and special features. However, you really want those heavy hitters to stick around another 13 minutes. This 13 minutes is the opportunity you have to predispose them to doing busienss with you. TO GET YOUR EMAIL READ. An opportuntity to introduce them to an added value element of your business from with they can benefit. While they are enjoying NON-CRUNCHY nurishment, their ears are wide open.
Sharing and helping the "A" and "B" list produces always pays off.

Best of success,
Annette Lawrence, Broker/Associate
Remax Realtec Group
Palm Harbor, FL
Move to the Front of the Line
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Nov 19, 2013
I often offer a drawing. Agents leave their business card in a container, we draw a card and agent receives $50 or $100 if their card gets picked. Sure gets their attention and they show up.
Name of the game, get them to see ur property.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 18, 2013

I personally do not think open houses are successful here. But that said I have picked up buyers from them in the past, then others nobody turns up. If you are looking to pick up buyers then I would say do them - it is pot luck - you could do 10 open houses and get only one buyer, but one is better than none. Open houses are not about selling the house they are about the realtor picking up potential clients. So it depends what you are trying to achieve from them. I would not have food, but I would bake cookies - for that freshly baked home cooking smell. I would have a sign in sheet for potential customers. I would put up open house signs on Friday evening with day and time on them (these have to be removed by Sunday evening in most areas). A couple of weekends ago I had a couple from Washington state telling me they were trying to find open houses to go to and couldn't find any. In other parts of the country open houses are huge, every Sunday there is a ton of open houses to choose from. Then these people come here and find there are none or only a few to choose from. I depends also how your listings shows - if it is staged well then it is worth holding open. If it is tucked away from any main roads then it is probably not worth holding open because you are not going to get the traffic. I would hold one and then if no one comes you can then decide not to hold another one, at least for a while. Sometimes the seller doesn't want to get out of their home every weekend for 2-3 hours. The other thing is I only do open houses for an hour and a half because that way people are going to come to yours first because otherwise it will be finished. Good luck
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 19, 2008
Advertise and SERVE FOOD!!!!!
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 17, 2008
Agents: Do you find any difference in usefullness of a Broker Open House betrween the different price points? In my area, low priced houses sell if priced agressively, high end sells, and midprice houses are moving the slowest. I was curious if you found the BOH more useful for some price points then others. Do you find the value of a BOH to differ btwn a sellers & buyers market? Thank you in advance for sharing your insight. I have found the comments to date to be helpful.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 5, 2008
Jonathan...congrats on being in of the hot markets!

Elvis and Deborah... I agree 150%.

I have seen Broker Open Houses/ Caravans make a big comeback in the Atlanta area because agents feel the market is slow and they want to show their seller that they are working hard for them. My clients know that I work hard for them and I do not do broker caravans or broker open houses. In my opinion, if you have 50 agents come through the door that do not have a buyer it only frustrates the seller in 30 days when not one of the 50 bring a buyer through the door. Truth be told, an agent is going to show a listing because it meets their buyers criteria not because they came to a caravan. And I personally try to inconvenience my clients as much as possible by making them leave for an afternoon so hungry agents can come through.

In my opinion, the caravans serving lunch and/ or having drawings for gift cards are attracting agents that have no clients and need a free lunch or free gift card. I know that sounds horrible and snobbish... it is what happens most of the time. I am not trying to offend anyone as that is not my intent but my old company had caravan Tuesday and the only agents that went were the agents that had nothing going on.

With all that being said, I do not believe that there is anything wrong with networking your listing to other agents that have competing listings or perhaps to agents that have sellers that could be your buyer once their property sells. Meaning, if you are going to have a caravan and spend money then spend it on those that you know are likely to bring you a buyer. An agent with a competing listing may get a phone call that you do not get and their listing is not a match but your listing is... then it was great that they saw your home and got the opportunity to meet you.

To me, making it more successful would mean getting the agents through the door that actually have business that could result in a buyer for your listing. Offer a broker bonus the agent that visited the open house that then brought you a buyer.

I just think Jonathon that maybe you could be the agent in your area to think outside of the box doing something other than the caravan/ BOH and get your listings sold without wasting your time and money.

I challenge anyone to do a census of the agents entering through the door... and you will see that Deborah and Elvis are correct also.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 5, 2008
Much like Deborah and Sylvia there's not a lot you can do to entice me into a BOH for a property that I don't have a client for, or an interest in seeing.

That being said, I've found that I & Deborah & Sylvia are atypical, as many of the agents I work with do the same as Sylvia's friend. They go through the list of properties, highlighting those that serve food, and those that are giving away gas cards, starbucks cards, or raffles, and they visit those en masse. And we make fun of them.

I'm unconvinced that it's helpful, because realistically all it does is bring agents through the house, that don't necessarily have clients for the home. Yes, it's still good, because it exposes it to more eyes, but the top producers, that top 10% of the Realtors who do 90% of the work... they're going to see it regardless of incentives, lunch, refreshments, snacks, book signings, yacht tours or whatever. And they're going to see it, because they WANT to see it, not glancing at it while they make their way toward the buffet.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 5, 2008
Alan May, Real Estate Pro in Evanston, IL
Go to a community that has a clubhouse. Receive permission to have a barbecue....or watch sports on a widescreen TV. Invite the community residents to participate...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 5, 2008
If you ever want me to sit in with you on BOHs, I can certainly do that. From my perspective, I can help educate brokers on financing options that may be avialable on any certain home which could get them thinking about buyers they were not sure about.

Ed Nailor - Home loans in Charlotte
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 21, 2007
I own a production company in Chicago exclusively producing real estate videos ...We had the idea of "producing" Home Video Tours prior to the Broker Open House in order to hand them out to Brokers at the event itself...That way, the host of the Open House would be ahead of the game, from a marketing stand point. The Realtors,(that show up), would have a product on DVD, in hand, to show/give to their potential buyer(s). Do you think this is worth pursuing and is a good idea? Secondly, how "open" is a Broker Open House?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 7, 2007
Hi Jonathan, I would suggest giving away lottery tickets. Good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 20, 2007
For me, personally, my order of visit is much like Deborah's. I don't go to a house for food nor for drawings.

But I do know that as an agent, I used to go out with this one old time agent. She marked the ones that serve food, and made sure she does not miss those. We used to tease her about that.

I also know others who has success with giving out IPOD. I tried to give out other things like Trader Joe gift certificate to be different. I also always server some finger food if possible, but I am not sure of the effect - I think if the house I am holding open is a more popular one at the right location, they show up.

I have another coworker who arranged a special 'Green Tour' of her house after she discovered that it's a somewhat energy efficient house - insulation, double pane windows, etc. Since GREEN is the in-thing, she made a little presentation for it and drew a few more extra agent there than normal.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 19, 2007
Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Marin, CA
I have not had a lot of success with caravans. I avoid them. I offer an agent incentive the day of the tour for the agent to go on their own time. The agents that show up that day are eligible to win an AmX gift card.....winner announced at the next marketing meeting.
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Oct 19, 2007
The Hagley G…, Real Estate Pro in Pleasanton, CA
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