September 30th, 2016 at 11:00 am

open house tips

When is an open house more than an open house? When it’s a party with a live DJ, catered food and beverages, a raffle, a portrait artist, or maybe a falconer (that’s someone who keeps, trains, or hunts with falcons, hawks, or other birds of prey).

As a seller, your open house doesn’t have to be typical and boring. Many agents are working with their clients to create memorable open houses that serve to do more than just sell a home–which is the ultimate goal, of course. They also expose your residence and its neighborhood to other agents, who might be able to attract an interested buyer. Seller’s agents typically hold one open house for the general public, and another for agents, called a broker’s open house. Either one is a great marketing tool that can greatly boost the odds that your home will get noticed vs. the competition.

Best of all, an extraordinary open house shouldn’t have to cost you a cent. All expenses are typically incurred by your agent.

Exotic birds and fine music

Jeff Katz, a REALTOR®-Sales Associate with our San Diego Central office, credits the dazzling open houses he’s held as helping catapult his new career in just two years.

“All of my business has been as a result of open houses, whether it’s lead generation or neighbors seeing the results from them and wanting me to sell their homes,” he said. “I have found a decent amount of success with creative open houses, and that’s why I continue to invest in them.

“They’re not cheap, and at the beginning I was pretty apprehensive to do it. But at the same time, it’s what helps differentiate a listing.”

Jeff and his preferred lender came up with the idea for having two falconers display three exotic birds at the largest property overlooking Lake Hodges and a nature preserve in Escondido. And that’s not all.

“We also had a very talented 15-year-old pianist performing,” he said. “We held a raffle for a two-hour free-flying session with falcons at the falconry, or a night on the town, or other gifts from local shops.”

At a previous open house in San Diego’s Bay Park neighborhood, Jeff employed a big-name DJ, and held the event from sunset to 10 p.m. so guests could see the nightly summer fireworks from SeaWorld. “I believe motion creates emotion. So by having music and people feeling the energy, it creates a better energy,” he said.

Luxury cars and catered food

In our Newport Beach office, REALTOR®-Sales Associate Ronnie Hackett and REALTOR®-Broker Associate Cyrena Bulahan are big proponents of themed open houses.

“Prior to any event, we go to the drawing board to figure out what the premise will be, and create a brochure that is an open house invitation” Ronnie said. “The first two hours are by RSVP for current homeowners so we can offer them market analyses and discuss their possible needs, and then the general public is invited for the next three hours.

“The results have been amazing. At a $1.7 million open house in Irvine where the theme was ‘Welcome, Summer,’ we had about 90 people come through, and it sold within the next few days. That was more traffic than we had ever had. Generally you’ll get 10 to 15 people come through. We met so many homeowners, the reaction was overwhelmingly fantastic, with people saying, ‘We’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s nice to see a seller take such pride in their home.’”

To attract visitors, Ronnie and Cyrena worked with auto dealerships to display a brand-new a Porsche and BMW out front, served catered food, and had a DJ in the backyard, where everyone could take in the views. For each themed open house, the pair offer a raffle for items like a $250 Ruth’s Chris gift card or and a spa massage/nail treatment. Five sales associates helped greet visitors, escort them to the refreshments, and give them a tour of the house. “We didn’t overlook anything,” Cyrena said.

“We’re doing the exact same thing for a $449,000 one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo in Irvine this weekend with a theme of ‘Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn,’” Ronnie said. “The price doesn’t matter to us. I think it’s wrong to differentiate based on price. Reputation is the name of the game in this business.”

Attracting the right buyers

For Kirk Hoffman, a REALTOR®-Sales Associate in our Beverly Hills office, a large home in Tarzana presented an ideal opportunity to display artwork on the spacious interior walls. The goal was to attract potential buyers from the art or entertainment industries who might see the house as the perfect place to display their personal collection.

“The house has great wall space, so it was made for artists,” Kirk said. “We invited four different artists, from pop art to street art and several other types of art, to come in and exhibit their works throughout. It took three weeks, and we were very specific as to size, colors, and how well each piece worked with the interior design. We coordinated with the stager, the sellers, and the artists to make sure everything was cohesive. We had it catered, with a wine and cheese bar for the broker’s open house, and held it at dusk when the lights illuminated the property perfectly, which created an incredible vibe.”

To market the open house, Kirk, like the other agents, sent out many direct mailings and e-cards, made personal phone calls, and knocked on doors. “We called every client that ever had any interest in the Tarzana area, and anyone in that area who wanted to possibly sell their house. Because this isn’t just to sell the property, it’s also to generate future business. We want to be a steppingstone to say, ‘Here’s what we’re doing, we’re going to be leaders at the forefront of residential sales.’”

A regular public open house normally would have attracted 12 to 15 individuals, while a broker’s open house might pull in 15 to 18 brokers, he said. But the art-themed public event drew 69 individuals, plus an additional 13 brokers who brought their clients in. At the broker’s open house, many brokers left, and then brought their clients back to see the house the same day.

Worth the effort

“Creative open houses are worth the effort,” Kirk said. “They help you gain the confidence of the neighbors, to see you’re willing to go above and beyond. They also work if you tie them into something that’s relatable to the house and the area.”

“My biggest thing is always trying to put myself in the client’s shoes,” Jeff said. “We REALTORS® see homes all day, every day, so I’m always trying to find a way to connect properties with something that will make them a little more exciting or memorable for other agents or clients to put down on their calendar.”

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