The Modern-Day Open House

A high-tech approach to open houses can increase your listing’s exposure to prospective buyers and make your efforts more successful.

April 1, 2008

John F. Kennedy once said: “Change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.” Many tech-savvy real estate professionals are taking this wisdom to heart as it relates to open houses.

Indeed, holding an open house is one of the most traditional strategies for getting buyers interested in a property. But without changing the way you view open houses, you risk missing out on Web-savvy consumers who head to their computers to do their first walk-through.

Through the use of video, some practitioners offer “open house tours” that give consumers a true-to-life view of what it would feel like to walk through a home during an open house. But the best part is that it’s accessible anytime on the Web, so consumers can view the home tours at their leisure.

With a few simple tools and some know-how, you can offer open house tours and set yourself apart from your tech-scared competitors. Here are five ways you can offer consumers open house tours 24/7 and 365 days a year.

1. Invest in a digital camera.

If you plan to begin offering open house tours and posting them to the Web, you will need a good digital camcorder to produce your video clips.

One good option is the new Flip Video camcorder. This small portable camcorder, which is small enough to throw in your briefcase or purse, can shoot up to 60 minutes of video. The camcorder has a built-in USB port to transfer your videos to your computer, where they are now ready for production with your movie editing software. With the Flip Video camcorder, it’s easy to record, transfer, edit, add a splash page for the introduction and ending of the video, narrate your open house, and then share it with consumers on the Internet.

For those looking for high definition, the High Definition Handycam Camcorder HDR-CX7 is worth checking out. (Also visit “New Wide Angle Cameras See the Big Picture ” to read more options.)

2. Get a YouTube Account

Now that you are equipped with the right tools to produce your open house tours, you will need a place to promote and store them.

Of course, you can use your Web site to upload your finished product, but the more appropriate place to host your videos would be Web sites like YouTube or Vimeo, another video-sharing Web site.

What is great about hosting your open houses tours on public Web sites like these is that you gain exposure to hundreds of thousands of viewers searching for homes in your ZIP code.

When posting your open house tours, be sure and use the appropriate tags (descriptive terms), such as your community name, ZIP code, and other keywords that could be used in a search. You also can link your finished videos on YouTube or Vimeo to your Web site.

3. Consider a “GoToMeeting” for hosting open house tours.

A great way to use open house tours to interact with potential buyers is through Web sites like With GoToMeeting, you can invite consumers to tune in for a weekly open house tour and be able to interact with them in real time.

In addition, Web sites like Mikogo, a free screen-sharing tool, allow you to talk on the phone with a potential buyer while simultaneously showcasing your listing through PowerPoint slides, photos, virtual tours, and more. As you describe the features of your listings, you can answer any questions consumers may have about your listing. It’s kind of like having your own weekly television show via the Internet where you promote your listings to those consumers participating.

4. Learn to link your videos to your Web site and e-mails.

Once you’ve produced a new set of open house tours for consumers to view, you’ll need to link your videos to your Web site. But how?

As noted earlier, Web sites like YouTube or Vimeo can expose your videos to thousands of viewers searching for homes in your ZIP code. Most of these sites also offer “free” hosting of your videos.

In addition, you can copy HTML code generated from the sites to your own Web site so consumers can preview your open house tours on your Web site as well. You also should add links for your new listings and open house tours to your e-mail signatures. By adding links to your open house tours in your e-mail signature, you’ll be promoting your videos to everyone you correspond with on a daily basis via e-mail.

5. Be active, not passive with your open house tours.

Many real estate professionals will spend many hours producing and developing content for their Web sites, such as open house videos, but then they’ll forget to promote and market their new activities to buyers and sellers. If you’re going to produce and host open houses tours on your Web site, you also should actively market and advertise your efforts in as many ways as possible.

Blog about your work, include links in your advertisements, promote your open house tours in letters and postcards, sign riders, and more. Take an active role in driving more consumers to view your high-tech efforts.

With high-speed Internet connections becoming commonplace in many parts of the country, younger consumers entering the marketplace, and technology moving at a rapid pace every year, today’s modern-day open house will soon be the norm for the real estate industry.

Does this mean the current traditional open house is no longer effective? Of course not. But now consumers who visit your open house during the day can go back later and see the home again through your open house tour online from the comforts of their own home before making a decision to purchase.

Best of all, taking advantage of some of today’s new technology tools to produce and develop open house tours will put you at the forefront of real estate in your market and will ensure you won’t miss the future.

John D. Mayfield, ABR, CRB, e-PRO, GRI, is a sales coach, author, and broker/owner of Mayfield Real Estate in Farmington, Mo. You can contact Mayfield through his Web site,