Shannon has been an Austin-based REALTOR® and broker since 2005, and is the author of the book for real estate professionals: Your Key to Open House Success. Visit her site at www.ShannonEnsor.com.
Overcoming Open House Objections
There are many reasons sellers might balk at your suggestion to open their home’s doors to buyers, and you should learn how to counter each of them.
March 8, 2016
I’ve begun to notice an interesting pattern during listing presentations. As I get to the section where I review my marketing strategies for their home, my soon-to-be sellers start out by nodding their heads in agreement and chiming in with approval. Professional photography and videos: “Ooh!” Blogging and social media presence: “Uh-huh!” Broker tours: “Yes!”
Then we reach a screeching halt. Open houses: “No!”
Now, not every seller tenses up when I mention the O word. In fact, some practically want me to live in their home so it can be available to potential buyers around the clock. But, this objection appears to be cropping up with increasing regularity. And as a huge believer in the power of open houses, I want to pass on some information and encouragement to other real estate professionals who are faced with those nos as well.
When sellers say they oppose open houses, ask why. Really, you should get into the habit of asking your clients the why behind their objections in general. Leaving questions unattended may cause confusion and disappointment in the future. But if you address them right away, you can get to the heart of their issue and educate them on the matter.
For instance, let’s say you accept their “no” answer to open houses and comply. Then, after their home sits on the market for weeks with no offers, they ask you what you are doing to sell their home. Let’s say you reply with, “Well, I would be doing open houses, but you told me you were against them when I took on the listing, so I never did them.” Your seller isn’t going to say, “Thanks for complying with my wish.” No, they’re going to be upset because you didn’t try every tactic you knew would help sell their home. If you had tackled their objection at the outset, you’d both have a clear understanding of expectations, eliminating the finger-pointing.
By addressing objections at your initial appointment, you’ll also learn if they are reasonable or founded in untruth. Many people have a reasonable fear of random visitors being given carte blanche over their home. “Will they go through my underwear drawers? My kids’ underwear drawers?” Educate them about their risks and what they can do to avoid damages.
The fact is, open houses can be a target for robberies. Tell your sellers to hide or remove valuable possessions, weapons, and medications. Assure them that you or the open house agent will check in on guests as they go through the bedrooms and other areas.
I like to tell sellers about my ninja approach: I pop in on guests as they head toward the more sensitive areas of the home so they know they are being watched, all while allowing them to view the home without me breathing down their necks at every step. Guests think I’m simply pointing out features of the home and gauging their interest, but my dual purpose is to keep them on their toes and deter criminal activity. Creepy? Maybe. Effective? You bet.
Some sellers are less afraid of the stranger danger than they are skeptical of the value of open houses. You can work all you want to minimize sellers’ feelings of risk about an their open house, but they may not be on board until they realize the benefits of an open house.
This brings up an objection I hear from sellers that is founded in untruth. Sellers have told me, “I’ve heard that open houses do not work and they’re only useful for the agent, to pick up more buyers.” These sellers think open houses are only for my gain and don’t realize the marketing exposure open houses give to listings. Once again, it’s time for a little seller education.
Ask your sellers if they go online to check out homes for sale. Almost all of them will say “yes.” Let them know this is where their future buyer is initially looking, too. They’ll probably be able to relate when you describe how buyers enter strict parameters on search sites, to weed out the excessive amount of homes that do not meet their criteria. Without those handy search parameters, we’d all feel like we’re back in the pre-online MLS era where agents had to comb through hundreds of listings in a book!
But these parameters can work against sellers, and this is where open houses step in and offer much-needed market exposure. Let’s say Johnny and Sally are taking their search to the streets one Sunday morning and plan to visit a few of the homes they liked online. They pass by an open house sign in front of home not on their list. They wonder what they could be missing out on and decide to step inside. As they tour the home, they ask themselves why it wasn’t on their list: “It’s so cute! It feels like home!” The agent at the open house tells them the basic stats: “Four bedrooms, 2,050 square feet, built in 1998.” Well, Johnny and Sally had been limiting their online search to homes with at least 2,200 square feet that were built after the year 2000. While lacking the 150 square feet the couple thought they needed, the home feels like the perfect size to them once they’re inside, and they love the fresh updates. They make an offer on the spot.
Without the extra exposure open houses provide for listings, your sellers could be missing out on these types of buyers. Even in a sellers’ market, maximum exposure could mean the difference between sitting on the market without an offer and receiving multiple offers above list price. Educate your sellers so they don’t let their assumptions that open houses only benefit agents get in the way.
This is all about ensuring you’ve represented to the seller that you are the right professional to hire. Educating them about the process helps build their trust in you. Showing them how you guarantee maximum marketing exposure underscores the fact that you are on their team when it comes to getting the results they are hoping for. And it doesn’t hurt if you’ve mastered the ninja approach at open houses, to help sellers feel more comfortable with the process.