True or false: Open homes are the best 3 or 4 hours of your life on a weekend. Sometimes, real estate agents dread holding a home open because the process doesn’t seem to change much from weekend to weekend. There is a great debate about whether, with advancements in technology, open homes are even useful anymore. However, open homes can be not only a great way to showcase a listing, but also another way to add to your ‘people pipeline.’
Showcasing Your Listing
Videos and 3D tours are a wonderful way to promote your listings (at CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty, we love the work HouseLens does), but they still can’t completely replace the overall sensory experience of seeing a home in-person. Not only is an open home a way to showcase your listing, it also affords the opportunity to make sure prospective buyers receive all the information they need to make an informed purchasing decision.
Adding to Your “People Pipeline”
Real estate is still a face-to-face business. One of the best ways of meeting new people and learning more about them is through open houses. Neighbors are founts of information about a property’s history and about the community. Even if the people who come through are working with another agent, it gives you an instant barometer of the local housing market. However, the potential for adding people to your “people pipeline” is one of the most valuable aspects of an open house. Collecting people’s information can be tricky. How many times can Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck go through an open house? How many unintelligible email addresses or phone numbers have you collected over the years?
Using Technology in Your Open House
Open house apps have been around for several years now, the most notable being Open Home Pro. Another open house app, however, has recently entered the space called Spacio Pro. We recently had the opportunity to have a longer chat with Spacio Pro (email Heather Elias if you’d like to watch the video), but we learned a few things about how you can maximize your open home experience using technology currently available to you.
Why An Open House App
What is an open house app? Basically, an open house app allows you to use a tablet (Android or Apple) as your sign-in sheet. Instead of juggling different sheets with random bits of information scrawled over it (notes on people who walked through, the aforementioned illegible names/addresses/numbers, etc.) which may be partially disintegrated from that last rainstorm or overflowing cup of coffee, all the information is easily accessible and in electronic form. While there are number of apps to choose from, here are some of the qualities of an open house app that will make your life easier.
Open House App Qualities to Look For:
Ease of Use
The theory is simple: if it’s not easy to use, you won’t use it. Over-complicated technology can be frustrating, and easy to download once and set aside. With any technology you take the time and money to invest in, you want something that will be useful to you and will give you consistency in your systems. Download several different open home apps to trial and see which works best for you.
While real estate agents are very good at communicating with people face-to-face, they often have trouble continuing that level of communication through the buying or selling process and afterwards. A good open house app would have the ability to continue your communication efficiently and effectively.
The first way would be through auto-responses. For example, an app like Spacio Pro allows you to send everyone who signs in to your open house and automatic email with content you provide. You could welcome people with additional information for them to read through as they go through the open home and/or to remind them of the property they just saw. You could invite people to learn more about you and your services. You could point people to your website or to a landing page that invites people to sign up for your newsletter or your home search.
Even past auto-responses, an open home app should enable you to send emails (or even texts!) to people you’ve met at each open house. That way you can also send personalized communication immediately following the open house, with a phone call as additional follow-up a few days later.
The second way of communicating with people who come through your open home happens after the open house. Some agents prefer to call those who came through their open home; others will email or text as a follow-up. More and more people, however, either give incomplete or incorrect information when signing into an open home. Why? Most just don’t want to be bothered. They’re afraid of being dumped into a database that will send them spam. They will be placed into an ‘opt-out’ situation – where they have to tell you ‘No’. The better way, the way to actually have people in your database you know want to receive your marketing materials, is via ‘opt-in.’ As people sign into your open house, ask them if you can send them further information – newsletters, targeted information, searches, etc. They’ll know to expect correspondence from you, and you’ll have verified that they want (and how they want) to be communicated with.
The open house app you should look for should obviously allow you to collect people’s information quickly and easily. Usually, you’re looking to collect name, email address, phone number and whether they’re already working with an agent. You may also want to know the price range the buyer’s looking in, whether they’ve been pre-qualified and/or pre-approved, and what kinds of properties they’re looking for.
One of the nice features of an app like Spacio Pro is that it has a ‘private email function.’ This private email function will create a custom email address for anyone signing in that hides their actual email address, allowing you to collect information from the more careful people who don’t want to hand out their email address to every real estate agent. The benefits of this are two-fold: you’re not only going to be able to continue a relationship with people you may not have been able to reach otherwise, you’ll also have better success at receiving a real email address…instead of one from Mickey or Donald.
We often tell ourselves that we’ll enter in information from our open house the instant we get back to the office or get back home. However, life often gets in the way – meetings happen, paperwork gets filled out, contracts signed, phone calls need to be returned, kids need to be fed and that glass of wine beckons. Those names can wait until Monday…or Tuesday…or Wednesday, right?
Another benefit of a good open house app is CRM (Client Relationship Management) integration. So whether you use Top Producer, Contactually or an Excel spreadsheet, you should be able to at least export information from your open homes to input into your CRM. An excellent open house app would also incorporate direct integration so it automatically would add people in from the open house into your CRM. Not only does it save you a step, it also reminds you where the point of first contact for that person came from.
Finally, especially in a hot real estate market, you may find yourself overrun with people during your open house. That’s great news! However, after 50 or more people, faces and names and stories may all start to blur together, making it difficult to keep people straight. Not only does asking people to sign in (or typing in their information yourself) on an app allow you to slow the initial contact and conversation down a little, enabling you to actually get to know more about the people walking through the home, the back-end of the app should also allow you to take notes. Instead of attempting to decipher your scribbles at the end of the day, you can type quick and easy notes to yourself about everyone you meet, ensuring you’ll be contacting prospective buyers with information and details they want (and proving you paid attention).
Real estate agents often possess superhuman qualities. Some things, however, can fall through the cracks if we’re not careful. With a tablet and a good open house app, technology can help maximize your open house experience. Which open house app would you recommend? What do you think of Spacio Pro?