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While this property did not quite fit the bill for Maurice Fordham and April Robinson, they discuss what would with Realtors Linda Maxwell and Sarah Leuthold, both of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty. Open houses give agents a ch...
Jax Daily Record Friday, Sep. 23, 201612:00 PM EST

Open houses still effective in today's real estate world

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by: Jamie Swann

Meandering from room to room, examining every nook and cranny, a steady flow of visitors walked through the front door of the pale green, two-story home perched at a corner on Cedar Street.

Some visitors were looking to escape the Florida summer, others curious about what could be inside the restored historic 1912 home.

But everyone who stepped foot on the wrap-around porch was welcome. After all, this was an open house.

In the age of the internet, the idea of holding an open house seems archaic and a waste of time to some agents.

When buyers are spending much of their time house hunting online, it’s hard to justify using the resources to employ an open house.

But many agents are returning to the trusted method, which allows buyers to step inside a house without having to make an appointment.

For agent Jon Singleton, spending a Saturday greeting potential buyers at open houses has proven successful.

Even when a buyer doesn’t emerge, an open house serves as a prospecting opportunity for Singleton. Another way to fill his address book with future clients.

“An open house brings buyers to you,” said Singleton, of Watson Realty Corp.’s Ortega office. “A lot of money and time is spent marketing in attempts to reach these people and open houses put me right in front of them.”

As Singleton and other open house enthusiasts can attest, orchestrating a successful event isn’t easy.

For sellers, an open house means a few hours away from their home.

For an agent, those few hours require many hours of work that usually include online marketing, placing signs around the house, printing and assembling packets of information for attendees and hosting the actual event.

To maximize success, agents must know how to get prospective buyers to show up.

One of the best ways is by promoting the open house as widely and as early as possible where most buyers are looking — on the web.

As soon as an open house has been set, agent Linda Maxwell posts the details on Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow, the Multiple Listing Service site and her personal website.

“I make every effort to hold an open house as soon as I can after listing a property,” said Maxwell, with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty’s Avondale/Ortega office. “A buyer can only see so much in pictures. Nothing can replace the feeling of actually being in the home.”

Facebook also is widely used to promote open houses.

Many agents will include four to five photos of the home in a boosted Facebook post, which links to a page where visitors can see more about the home and details about open houses.

“I’ve gotten creative when marketing my open houses,” said Singleton. “Recently, I attempted to make a house a PokeStop for the Pokémon GO game. I posted it on my Facebook page and generated a ton of interest. I’ll give anything a try.”

Although the PokeStop plan didn’t pan out due to requirements within the game, he is always looking for new ways to draw buyers.

Like his most recent “Giant Open House Saturday,” when Singleton held open houses at listings in close proximity so potential buyers could hop from house to house.

A tried-and-true method to advertise open houses is signage. Using open house signs strategically will draw potential buyers who may not have known about it otherwise.

“Well-placed signs will often attract the curious passers-by, those who may not be actively looking for a home,” said Maxwell. “After the open house, I will work on building a relationship with them.”

An agent’s work does not end when the open house is over.

Maxwell will use feedback from an open house to review with sellers what buyers liked and disliked about the home.

Following up with open house guests is a key element.

Maxwell spends the Monday after an event calling or emailing people to thank them for attending. Afterward, she will stay in contact by sending listings and periodic emails.

“Even if the open house they came to does not end up being the house they buy, maintaining contact will keep my name on their list,” she said. “Hopefully, they will think of me the next time they are looking to buy or sell.”

A successful open house, Maxwell said, achieves “a broad exposure,” bringing in serious buyers and neighbors who may know someone who wants to buy the house.

“What’s most important to me is that we get the message out to the right potential buyers,” Singleton said. “But once the buyers show up, it’s important not to disappoint.”

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