Generate Loyalty Through Open Houses

You can use open houses to promote properties and yourself. Here's how.

March 1, 2011

Open houses can serve a dual purpose. The first is obvious — to market a property to potential buyers. The second is a bit more subtle. Open houses also can be an opportunity to promote your services to consumers.

First Things First

The majority of open house guests are buyers. (Some are also neighbors, friends, and so forth, but you’ll quickly spot them.) The buyers who come through the door might already be loyal to another practitioner, and you should respect that relationship. Furthermore, a listing agent has a fiduciary responsibility to the seller. Practitioners participating in an open house that isn’t for their own listing don’t have that fiduciary responsibility.

Either way, to be fair to the seller, the agent must first determine whether the buyer is interested in the house before they begin to take attention away from the house. This is as simple as asking, “Does this house interest you?” Or, “I promised the sellers to ask each guest whether you are interested in the house. Are you?”

Give Them What They Want

The guests want to be comfortable, and they want information. Start by greeting each guest with a gracious smile. Welcome them to the house. Then, offer to answer all their questions. Provide them with more information than they were expecting.

On the dining room table or kitchen counter, provide information on the community and the neighborhood, a fully filled out sample purchase offer and addendums, financing recommendations with advantages of each, and detailed closing cost estimates. Be ready to show alternative properties that are in the area, in the same price and size range, and in the same style — that is, properties that guests are likely to be interested in if they showed up at this open house.

Ask Questions That Interest Them

There are only a few reasons buyers would choose to attend any open house: location, price, size, or a particular feature. So, ask questions along the lines of:

  • “This house is in Brighton. Are you looking exclusively in Brighton, or also in Penfield, Pittsford, and the other eastern suburbs?”
  • “This one is $279,900. Is that your price range, or are you looking higher or lower than that?”
  • “This one is 2,500 square feet with four bedrooms and three baths. Is that the size you were looking for or did you want something larger or smaller than that?”
  • “This one is adjacent to the golf course. Were you looking for a property on a golf course or did you just like this location?”

You will immediately discover whether buyers are loyal to other practitioners. The available ones will enthusiastically and openly answer you. They’ll begin to like you and trust you, because you’re asking questions that interest them. This also implies you know about other properties that have similar characteristics, which means you can help them.

Show Sincere Interest

Then say, “Tell me all the things you would like in your house and I’ll take notes.” Once they’ve answered the questions about location, price, and size, they’ll answer this question. The trust toward you deepens. Loyalty is yours, as long as you continue to show sincere interest in them and what they want to accomplish.

Offer Education and Information

Ask if they have reviewed the current paperwork used to buy a home in the area. “Has anyone given you a copy of the contract that you would sign to purchase a home? It’s good to be familiar with this paperwork before making a $200,000 decision.”

Then ask them follow-up questions: “Are you familiar with the variety of inspections available for homes in this area and with the roles of attorneys and other professionals involved in making sure the transaction goes well?”

Finally, try to schedule a follow-up meeting: “May I suggest that we get together? I can go over all of these things with you and provide you with copies and other information that will protect your interests and make the process enjoyable. No obligation: If we hit it off, and it looks like we will, I’ll help you find a great house. If we don’t, you’ll just be better prepared. Would you be able to meet sometime this week or next?”

The words “contract,” “sign,” and “decision” are used purposefully, in a way that will make buyers realize that they need someone that they can trust to protect them.

Go All the Way, or Don’t Go at All

Many real estate professionals have said to me, “Rich, I do something similar to that, and it doesn’t work.” Then there are practitioners who build loyalty through this exact approach and say to me, “That is so easy. It makes so much sense to them. The ones who begin to answer these questions just naturally evolve into clients.”

So if you go with this tactic, go all the way. Work with it until you have it all down.

Rich Levin is a national real estate speaker and sales coach. His company, Rich Levin's Success Corps Inc., Rochester, N.Y., takes a "whole business approach" to coaching, focusing not only on essential sales skills such as presenting and prospecting, but also quality of life and personal finance. Contact Levin at 585-244-2700 or

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