Ed Graybill, Real Estate Pro in Virginia Beach, VA

I'm looking for creative ways to increase traffic to my open houses.

Asked by Ed Graybill, Virginia Beach, VA Sat Oct 18, 2008

I'm looking for creative ways to increase traffic to my open houses. I do plenty of online advertising and also advertise in the Virginian Pilot, but I'm lucky to get one or two visitors over a four hour period. Have any of you other agents had any luck with open house traffic and if so, what are you doing different?

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Hi Ed,
It's refreshing to see a question on here from an agent that is genuinely focusing on new ways to improve the level of service you are offering to your clients. It is so important to re evaluate what is working for you presently and also what things you would like to see an improvement on. Personally, I think in this market that it is vital to do this on a regular basis to gain an edge on where the real estate industry is heading and to think outside of the box. In reference to traffic increase for your open houses, I would suggest you make sure to change under your public remarks on your listing the open house time and date a week before your open house to maximize exposure should anyone be surfing the web , (whether an agent or a homebuyer). Also, I have had success by emailing the agents directly who are also working in the area close to my listings with an open house flyer invitation and a simple message that reads I will be happy to show their listing to buyers who would like additional options and they are welcome to show mine. It's amazing the positive feedback I have gotten from such a small gesture. Recently for a new listing, I did this and got an immediate call back from one of the agents who requested a showing and within the first week of my listing the same agent brought me an offer. Once you have established what kind of buyers would be interested in your open house, target those neighborhoods with invitations to the open house and call all of the neighbors too. I really liked one of the suggestions that was given on teaming together with other agents to coordinate multiple tours of properties in the close vicinity to your open house. That is a trend I am seeing in my area at the oceanfront as well. It makes sense and what is neat is that the agents are working together even from different competing companies for these open house tours. If you really get inspired put on a good pair of walking shoes, a good suit, and a smile and door knock in the neighborhood around your open house with invitations and business cards before the event. Sometimes getting back to the basics with people is what is needed even if that means more work:) Good Luck and hope this helps.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 10, 2008
At least you are doing open houses. Many agents are refraining from doing them because they believe they are waste of time. Open houses do bring in buyers maybe just not for that home. I can tell you though that because the info is already online, the ones that do come thru are usually very interested because they have already seen it online and they want to know more.
To get more people out to your open house try by first having a private open house for the neighbors beginning an hour before the public one. Send an invitation and ask them to bring a friend who is looking to buy in the area. Call it a sneak preview and purchase.
The private OH also works for your target market. Send out invites to that target and hold the OH on a weeknite. Serve refreshments.
You can also think about twilite OH or a lunchtime OH for prospective buyers, both during the week. And with newspaper ads, also send flyers to local bus. and corp., either thru their HR depts. or the owner. Off hour open houses will attract a buyer wgho works on the w/end and one who is motivated enough to skip out of work with the potential of losing pay.
The other is running a One-Day Sale for that open house. It is being done in the northeast and is proving to be effective.
There is so much you can do for an open house. Just remeber when sitting one, be proactive and leave the TV off.
Good luck.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 28, 2008
Good for you for trying to be creative. Seems to me there are too many real estate agents who are content with " rules of thumb" who assume that all they have to do is put the house in the MLS and nag for price reductions.

Here's a thought (as a nonrealtor): with yard sales, it seems that the more families or sales in one area brings in bigger crowds. Why not get together with other agents who have houses for sale in the neighborhood and make the neighborhood a "destination" by all holding Open Houses at the same time on some sunny Sunday afternoon? As a former home buyer, I know I'd love to be able to see 5 or 6 houses close together at my own pace (instead of dragging myself out for one house).
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 28, 2008
Hi Ed - Here's my two cents for what it's worth. First, make sure you pick the right home to hold open. We have some towns nearby that do not allow directional signs, I was spending every Sunday afternoon at one particular listing and was lucky to get ONE visitor! No directional signs allowed, no traffic, so make sure it is on or near a mail thoroughfare. Put a rider on the for sale sign out front a week in advance advertising the open house. And do all the old standard stuff, signs, ballons, etc, the day of the Open House.

You are correct to do lots of online advertising, including of course Realtor.com, your local MLS, Trulia, Craig's list, etc. Also try inviting all your 'friends' on facebook, etc, by using the event invitation function. Mail an invitation to the neighborhood and follow up with a phone call or by knocking on doors if you can. I did this once on a lake front home and got 12 visitors!!! It was a great neighborhood and everyone knew someone who wanted to move in, I got terrific 'neighbor' traffic! Also try mailing to feeder markets or advertising to other brokers in those markets. For me the feeder market is miles away. I am about an hour outside New York City. If I want to tap into feeder markets I have to get folks driving all the way out from just across the Hudson river, so I try to reach other brokers in that area and tell them to send their clients with a business card so I know who to follow up with on Monday morning.

Combining the Open House with a Yard sale or Garage sale is a terrific idea! And, even if there is no open house, if your clients hold a garage sale, be there if you can and if you can't make sure there are lots of flyers on the table!

Finally, give it a personal twist, maybe prepare some refreshments that have the "Ed" signature. Perhaps give it a theme, hot dogs and root beer for the fourth of July or something. Or advertise "Stop in for Ed's Famous XXX and Cup of Coffee!" In my case it's home baked cookies, Snickerdoodles, my specialty. It could be anything, bowl of chili, whatever, as long as it is your own.

Good Luck and let us know if any of this works for you!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Dec 7, 2010
I want to suggest that you should go for online advertising with Google Adwords. It is the best online advertising programs and also increase ROI. It will definitely increase your traffic and help to convert visitors to customers. It is leading with number of advertisers that show it success and effectiveness.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 6, 2010
Hi Ed,

I have had a good deal of success with having the open house co-hosted with a Wine Specialist.

I don't do this with all of my listings but a select group that have a more upscale and spacious home that would allow for a good flow. The Wine Specialist I use is a very pleasant sort and happens to be a real people person. The people coming thru the door are immediately put in a relaxed frame of mind and I find they spend alot more time in the home and thereby really have a chance to enjoy the home and really feel the ambience instead of my just telling them.

When I invite the Wine Specialist I find the home lookers usually linger and frequently stay for the whole open house. They only are given a small amount to sample the wine and I have grapes and a cheese and a cracker assortment. People are treated like guests - which they are. My sellers love it as well. I straighten up after and usually leave the plate of cheese, crackers and a bottle of wine to thank the Home Owner for preparing their home for the Open House. I ask them before the Open House what their favorite wine is.
Even people that don't drink Wine see the benefit in this.

The Wine Specialist also has an opportunity to meet potential clients for future home parties and may even sell a case at the Open House. It is a win win situation for you both.

Just as an aside. I have the Stereo on jazz and if their is a flat screen co-ordinate the music and have the visual on the tv. If there is a fireplace have that on as well. If it is summer has the patio doors open and perhaps the Wine Person on the verdanda........

As far as letting the public know - I run this information in my add and on my website.

I have also mailed invites to the neighborhood where the home is. Neighbors love it.

I have gotten a few buyers using this technique and a few listings.

Hope this helps. It is fun as well.

Jewel Liebrecht
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 28, 2008
Ed you have gotten alot of good feedback from this question! One thing I did forget to mention before is signs and events. If you are planning on doing an open house on the weekend and you know down the street there is an event on that day-(community yard sale, church service, Greek festival or holiday planned function) then make it work for you! Invest in lots of extra mini directionals and balloons and position them so all of the extra traffic will see it. Also the flyer tubes are great to add to the smaller signs with additional information on open house times and location of the property. You'd be surprised how many people will stop by after a church service on a whim JUST BECAUSE THEY SAW THE SIGN. All of this advertising in the paper and in real estate books to me is a bunch of bologna..I have yet to have a guest register their form of finding the open house was because of ads, it is always either flyers, signs or because of word of mouth from the neighbors. In this market, as an agent, investing your time and money into what will give you the most results is key.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 16, 2008
Check out my blog about this very subject.... http://wilmingtonncrealestateguide.com/2008/09/27/the-secret…

Kay Baker
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 16, 2008

I do what Anja does in regards to adding the open house a week or so before the actual open house in the public remarks on the mls..as well as posting in any open house sections on the websites I post to...I see some additional traffic come from this. I always post to craigs list as well the day before the open house and sometimes that morning. In addition, I always hang sign riders on my signs the Monday before the open house with the day and times it will be open. People don't want to take up their whole Saturdays or Sundays waiting to see when you'll have it..let them know the time. Benefit of the riders on the signs.. It has all week for drivebys to remind them you'll be open and also shows the neighbors (who we know are potential listings when we sell) that we are working for our client and allows them plenty of time to let friends or family know about. I also change up flyer boxes or add at that time that we will be having an open house and if they miss..they can still call me for a private tour. Then signs..signs..signs...balloons..etc... If you can get by with putting them out early at the roads..don't even think about not taking the time to do such.. You can do all these things..but the most important is what you do when they walk thru the door and the information you can get or give them before they leave.. Make sure you have a good register that gets bare minimum their name, address, e-mail, phone, can you call or not, how they found the open house, if they own a home, and if they are working with an agent and if so..their name. Lastly..I do find Sundays are the best days for me for open houses..I think it's because people are catching up on chores on Saturday perhaps?? Twilight open houses are also something that's being tested.. yes doing in evenings after hours. I've not tried such yet as I worry about the safety issues on such but was shared as an idea at our last RE/MAX Allegiance convention.. Good luck.. Let's go sell some houses!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 15, 2008

While I don't do many open houses (they primarily attract new listings or buyers for other properties), the few I have done that have been successful have been a collaborative effort with other listing agents in the neighborhood. I would suggest you contact the listing agents and propose an "Open House" day for the neighborhood. Share the joint marketing, make sure each home is stocked with flyers on the other properties.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 13, 2008
Ed, Check out my recent blog post for my secret sucess to Open Houses.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 10, 2008
Host an open with a Tag Sale. My sellers were holding a tag sale one Saturday so we decided to hold the house open as well. The traffic was phenominal and we got an offer the same day!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Nov 10, 2008

Are you providing high quality photos in your online marketing? You should be posting photos of the entire home, especially its key feature points in online listings. Also, is the home staged? If you are posting photos of a non-staged home, that could be turning off potential buyers before they even pay a visit to the home!

Please feel free to contact me if you need additional information about home staging and photography.

Best of luck to you!
[Shannon] of DesigningReality - Home Staging, Real Estate Photography, and Design
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 28, 2008
I saw one the other day offering the first 5 people $25 gas cards for coming to the open house.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 28, 2008
i havent had any luck with open houses as of late, when there is traffic it is neighbors or people who cant quailify, ones time is better used with private showings where you can prequailify people rather tahn sitting and waiting for someone to come.
Web Reference: http://www.ScottSellsNH.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 28, 2008
If you are looking for buyer traffic carry on/
If you want to sell your listings, than post that question.
The rule of thumb is 10-12 listings or one offer should occur in the two weeks. If you do not see that activity, then a price adjustment is in order.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Oct 18, 2008
Keith Sorem, Real Estate Pro in Glendale, CA
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