Florida Renovation Loans: July 2013

What I Learned My First Year Doing Open Houses

Being new to Jupiter Florida back in 2005 I find these ideas great.  Even though I am in the mortgage business, when you are new to a market you need a plan and you must work that plan.  Kudos to Tammie!

What I Learned My First Year Doing Open Houses

What I Learned My First Year Doing Open HousesThese days, I'm not doing many open houses. The market in Franklin TN is rather brisk and homes go under contract before the first weekend on the market. However, as a result of this challenge and reading the many ideas offered, I was reminded of what I learned my first year doing open houses.

I got my license to sell real estate back in late 2007. I was totally new to the area and had no friends or family here. My husband was retired and my kids were home schooled. Can you see where this is going? I didn't know anyone, except, for a few couples at my church. I didn't have a sphere of influence bringing in a lot of business.

To combat this problem, I decided to work open houses. A lot of open houses. I didn't have my own listings so I volunteered my services to agents in my office. However, I was very particular about the open houses I worked.

First, I only wanted homes that were new to the market. I didn't want to work anything that had been on the market more than 30 days. Second, the homes had to be occupied and nicely staged with the thought that staged homes get more traffic. Third, the homes had to be priced right.

Each Wednesday, I would sit down and do a Competitive Market Analysis for the new Franklin TN listings in my office. I could usually narrow it down to 4 or 5 properties that met my criteria. I would start calling the agents to see if I could host an open house that weekend.

If the first agent said no, then I would move on to the next agent and house. But, if an agent told me I couldn't hold that house open but they had another listing, I wouldn't take it. Remember, I had already done an analysis of the properties that I thought would get lots of traffic through. I knew that if they were throwing out another property, it didn't meet my very stringent criteria.

Once I had the house I was working, I would set about to market the home. I had already purchased personalized open house signs with my name and phone number. When the agents asked if I needed signs, I said I had my own.

Then I would send an email asking for permission to use photos from the MLS to market the open house. They always said yes and I had their email as confirmation. I would produce a flyer with all the property details and 3-4 photographs of the house with my name and phone number and, of course, the brokerage contact info. I only used these flyers during the open house.

Later, after I began blogging, I wrote an open house post promoting the open house event with photos from the MLS, once again, with the agent's permission. This really helped promote those listings and my name.

Here's the good news; I got traffic through these open houses and was able to get lots of names in my database. Here's the bad news; I didn't have a CRM to keep in contact with them.

After the first six months, I went back and looked at my database to see how many had actually purchased a home within that time--98% of the buyers who walked through my open houses had already bought. OUCH! Unfortunately, not one used me.

I knew I had to change things up but I didn't know how. I was operating on a low marketing budget. The idea of paying lots of money for a CRM like Top-Producer just wasn't in the cards. (We have lots more CRM options now.) So here's what I did.

What I Learned My First Year Doing Open HousesI started using the auto-notification feature offered through my local MLS. It wasn't branded and it wasn't fancy but, as new properties came on the market, buyers would get the new listings with my contact info.

I also started working homes at a slightly higher price point. The average sale at that time was $400,000 in Franklin. I only worked open houses between $400,000 to $500,000.

While I didn't work as many open houses that next year, I still sold three houses to buyers I met hosting open houses for other agents. Three may not be a lot but the total was $1.3M in sales. Not too shabby.

I haven't worked many open houses the last couple of years. Primarily because I didn't feel I needed to. Silly me. But it is a great way to increase your database and actually meet buyers who are looking to purchase within the next six months.

As a result of this challenge, I'm going to incorporate many of the great ideas I've learned here and start doing open houses again. But, I'll still use that stringent criteria and work that higher price point. Fortunately, I now have a great CRM in place that sends leads a branded email with new listings.

I hope what I learned my first year doing open houses is useful to you. The most important thing to remember is the agent who provides regular contact will probably be the one to get the business. 

Tammie White, Realtor® in Franklin TN
Cell Phone: (615)495-0752

This posting and the contents written here are the intellectual property and opinions of Tammie White of Benchmark Realty LLC

Michael Cantwell

Branch Manager, Highlands Residential Mortgage, Ltd., Palm Beach Gardens Florida

My website - www.MichaelCantwellTeam.com

My Mobile # 561-262-5366

Branch Manager - NMLS: 644428
Highlands Residential Mortgage, Ltd. - NMLS: 134871
Highlands Residential Mortgage, Ltd. is an Equal Housing Lender – This is not a commitment to lend.

Comment balloon 5 commentsMichael Cantwell • July 27 2013 08:54AM
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