How to Build Open House Traffic

Short and sweet:

Use lots of directional signs; say 10 or 12 or more. And get them out a day before, showing the date and time of the coming open house. Remember: you’re not just directing people to your open house, you’re establishing a powerful visual presence in the neighborhood that will help you get another listing and another listing and another listing.

Get your open house information into the MLS in advance. If the event is this weekend, get it in by Tuesday so that the outgoing feed can get it on the various real estate portals in time. Impromptu or seller held open houses can be entered manually into Zillow as late as the day before.

Have your seller claim their home on Zillow. It is an easy process that starts with finding their listing on the site and clicking on the Owner’s View. Have them add a paragraph to your listing about ‘What I Love About This House.’ Also, once claimed, they can add their own open houses to the listing.

Have your seller post the open house on their Facebook page and ask their friends to share it. They can link to their Zillow or listing in the post.

Make a personal invitation to the neighbors. You WANT to meet them, either at the event or on their doorstep prior to it. Plan to walk your flyer/invitation to the 20 closest households. Those homeowners will have real estate questions for you and you may uncover your next neighborhood listing in the process.

Use an open house log to gather contact information. has a great one that enables you or your seller to gather information and save it online where you can access it from anywhere. Visitors are more likely to type their information into a tablet or laptop than they are to scribble it out long-hand. There are a lot of other great tools at Realbird and you should check it out! 

How do you build traffic for your open houses? Leave us a tip in the comment section below.

The Best Response

I got a great lesson in a Coaching Group yesterday. We were talking about Lead Capture landing pages, how to market them and respond to resulting leads. Mike Bowling, our Help-U-Sell Broker in Yuma, Az, had me go to his company Facebook Business Page. There, I found this post:

When I clicked on the post, I was taken to this Landing Page:

This is a RealBird landing page. Ken Hazelet in Pine Grove, CA introduced me to a year ago and if you haven’t explored it yet, you should! For something like $200 a year, every listing you take gets a single property website, a landing page like this, help with social media posting and more.

The Landing Page features a grayed-out photo of the actual listing in the background and a Lead Capture form. When I entered my name, email and phone, I immediately got this message in my inbox:

When I clicked the link, I was taken to the RealBird single property website for this home, which looks like this:

At the same time, my phone started to ding with incoming messages. First, I got this email:

I also got a text with the same message. Yes, it is an automated response, but it sounds somewhat personal. Mike uses FiveStreet to route leads to himself and his team. It automates the process, makes lead tracking easy and keeps things from falling through the cracks. The next ding on my phone produced this voice message from Monica Black, one of the buyer agents in Mike’s office:

(By the way, the incorrect Help-U-Sell usage is the result of Google translating the voice message into text – not an oversight on Monica’s part)

And a moment later I got this text message:

All of this happened almost instantly. Within a minute or two, I’d had five responses to my completion of the Lead Capture form – each one a little more personal than the one before.

Each part of this process took a little thought and setup but, with the exception of Monica’s personal voice message, it’s all pretty much set-it-and-forget-it. Most important, the response produced an impression of value and professionalism from this team. What could be better?

Through the years, I’ve been able to consistently increase a real estate company’s bottom line by tightening up the lead capture, response and tracking process. This is the place where all of your marketing is converted into income opportunities. Phone inquiries are easy: it’s just a matter of knowing your business and your inventory, and working on a little scripting (and using the Buyer and Seller Data Sheets). Internet leads present a bigger challenge, but I think Mike Bowling has shown us the most powerful way to respond to them. Thanks, Mike!

The Truth About Purple Bricks

What does $2.7 million marketing budget buy you in half a year? It buys you a ‘dent,’ I suppose.

That’s what Purple Bricks spent during their first 7 months in the US and a lot of people – ok: most of them were Realtors – took note.

At Help-U-Sell we are (as always) a little flattered that a ‘new’ competitor tries to mimic something we’ve been doing for more than 40 years: Set Fee Pricing.  At the same time we chuckle when it becomes clear that the marketable part of the Set Fee is all that was copied.  The spirit behind the fee – the passion for saving consumers tons of money while delivering exceptional service -always seems to be left behind.

Set Fee pricing – where everybody in a local market pretty much pays the same thing to sell their houses – makes perfect sense.  It is logical; which means that the % nonsense the other guys are doing, whether 6% or 5% or even 1%, makes no sense at all! So, good for Purple Bricks for (kinda) adopting that pricing structure.  A little digging on the company website reveals that their Set Fee is mostly smoke and marketing mirrors.

Here is one of my favorite passages on (it is on their FAQ page, in answer to the question, ‘When do I pay my fees and how do I make payment? ‘):

You can either pay the Sell Side fee on the sale of your home, after 6 months from appointing us as your Broker or when you withdraw the Property from the market, whichever happens sooner – so you can ‘pay later’ or you can just pay on appointment ‘pay now’. The choice is yours. . .

Did you catch that?  The fee is due and payable at one of 3 junctures:

  • At closing
  • Or at the six-month anniversary of your listing date
  • Or when you withdraw the listing or it expires

Whichever comes first.  In other words, you pay the $3,600 fee* no matter what.  Even if your Purple Bricks home selling project sinks like the Titanic, you’re going to pay the fee.  The Help-U-Sell Set Fee is payable only at closing.

The part that is not so obvious is that buy-side fees are always paid in Purple Bricks transactions. You don’t have the option to find your own buyer and then pay less. It’s not in the verbiage because that’s pretty standard in the industry.  To my knowledge, Help-U-Sell Real Estate is the only brand that makes this feature part of our offering.  We unbundle commissions so that your Listing Fee (the Set Fee) is paid at closing and if you find your own buyer, say through your network of friends or by holding an open house, that’s all you pay.  Buy side fees are only paid when an agent – ours or somebody else’s – brings the buyer. Like I said, it’s logical.

Another gem hidden in the fine print of the Purple Bricks website is their complaint procedure. I can’t copy/paste it here because it’s sooo long! Eleven points in all!  But you can read it here.  I don’t know how many complaints they get, but you have to wonder why a real estate company would publish an elaborate procedure like this on their website.  I don’t find a similar page on any other real estate website – so this must be one of Purple Bricks’ unique features!

Purple Bricks, like most of the new real estate companies emerging today, is a corporate entity. The people you work with are often employees, empowered to do very specific tasks, usually for very specific fees.  Any higher level arrangements or negotiations are handled by someone else, usually faceless and located miles away.  At Purple Bricks, an agent comes to your house and takes your listing (it is rumored that they get paid about $800 for doing that), and then turns you over to their corporate office in New York or Southern California. From that point on, your home selling project is managed by phone and internet.

At Help-U-Sell Real Estate, we see things differently. We believe that a transaction involving the biggst financial asset most of us have (our homes), deserves the knowledgable assistance of a trusted advisor: a Help-U-Sell Broker or Agent. Sure, we market the heck out of our listings, online and everywhere else; but we also stay with you every step of the way, answering your questions, advising, negotiating when an offer appears, and managing the transaction from beginning to end.  We are not a machine, not some nebulous, faceless entity in the cloud. We are real people who care very much for our business and our customers. We are local and our success depends on how well we take care of our local buyers and sellers.

We have a Tag Line at Help-U-Sell:  Sell Fast – Save Thousands.  I think we should add another imperative to that:  Be Delighted. Because, that’s what our home sellers and buyers generally are at closing: Delighted.

*Changes seem to be coming fast and swift at Purple Bricks! When they arrived in the US, their listing fee, proudly proclaimed at the top of their website home page, was $3,200.  A few months later, it was $3,600.  Today, the word ‘From’ has been instered before the fee:  ‘From $3,600.’ To determine your fee, you first have to input your Zip Code – so the fee varies by marketplace. In 10001, New York City, for example, it’s $5,900.

Price vs. Value

You are not the lowest price in the market! Nor should you be!

Your Low Set Fee consumer offer is designed to create a ‘tell-me-more’ inquiry only.  It is not what will cause sellers to list with you. That takes something more substantial.

People contact you because they think you might be able to save them some money.  They list with you because they perceive you are the best Value.

Value is the place where price and service intersect. A low price coupled with slashed service, i.e. Purple Bricks, is not a good Value. Great Service at a big price, i.e. many ordinary Realtors, is not a good Value. Great Service at a really good price, i.e. Help-U-Sell,  is a good Value. All of which leads us to this:

What is the Value you bring to a home seller? What do you have – beyond your Low Set Fee and savings – that will cause a seller to say, ‘Yes!’

Right now your biggest competitors are in two basic camps.  There are the new entries – Purple Bricks, Redfin and the like. And there are the old establishment – the ordinary Realtors.

They old guys have a business model that runs on high fees and big splits to agents.  But current realities dictate that they cut commissions to be competitive.  So when they cut commissions they are cutting the fuel it takes to run the business model. Their cut really is a CUT. The commissions are lower, yes; but what had to be cut on the service side to accomplish that?  Less marketing?  Less competent agents?

The new entries have a sleek model that emphasizes technology and minimizes the importance of agents.  They take the listing, plug it into the technology and wait for something to happen.  The agents are paid less and are really just clerking the listings leads created by the corporate marketing machine.  Yes, they charge less. But the service they offer is also reduced.  It is the service of a clerk and a computer, hardly a good Value.

Your Value is so much more than either of these!  When a seller deals with you, they’re dealing with the owner of the company.  You have years, even decades of experience.  You have a track record and can document your success. You have systems that enable continuing contact during the listing period and beyond.  You are their skilled consultant, guiding them through the largest financial transaction they will ever have.  Yes, you charge less; because your business model is designed to run more efficiently (you are not dependent on high-split agents to grow your business). But the service you provide is the best available today.  That’s the very definition of Value.

So, market your Low Set Fee and the savings it produces.  That creates inquiries.  But, once you have the inquiry, sell your level of service and the Value you bring to the transaction.  That’s what creates signed listing agreements.

The 10 Most Important Things I Know About Running A Successful Real Estate Company

I’ve been doing this for 34 years: helping real estate brokers be more successful. I’ve worked with ordinary brokers whose lives revolved around recruiting and I’ve worked with extraordinary brokers who put the consumer first and built real businesses.  Over time, I’ve learned a few things that are powerful and true for any real estate company.  Here are my top 10:

No leads means No listings.  Really, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a real estate broker kavetch that s/he is not getting any leads.  In time I discovered that there was a direct correlation between lead production and listing activity.  Think about it:  why would you have leads if you have nothing to sell?  So, got no leads?  Go get a listing.

The inquiry is where the rubber meets the road.  Dramatic improvement in the bottom line is possible if you focus on the intake process.  A 3% to 10% increase can usually be achieved in a matter of weeks if you just tighten up how you respond to inquiries, how effectively you procure contact information and permission (real or implied) to continue the conversation.

Incubation is essential.  Going hand-in-glove with the previous point, you must have a way to maintain, track and interact with your leads going forward.  Our business is very different from what it was ten years ago.  Rarely does anyone contact you, needing to get their home on the market by the weekend.  Now, most leads take 3 – 12 weeks to mature, sometimes more.  Without a lead database that you massage regularly, you will not be competitive. It’s critical.

Face-to-Face always wins. We may have leapt into the digital information age, may have transitioned to online and less personal marketing, but this has only made face-to-face contact more powerful.  Never email or text when you can call or see the prospect in-person . . . and in-person is probably 40% more effective than calling. This is most important when working around one of your listings.  A mailed Just Listed or Just Sold card is not nearly as effective as one that is hand delivered with an attempt at a brief conversation.

Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are . . . KEY.  In our business, the most important KPI are: Days on Market, Sale Price as a Percent of List Price, % in-house sales, and Seller Savings.  If you will gather this data on your company and then gather the same data on your MLS – you will always come out way ahead! If you don’t, there’s a problem and we ought to talk about it! Using this kind of information in listing consultations and marketing can make the difference between getting the listing and not.

The most important thing you can do with online marketing is to become findable.  That means:  Claiming your business on Google and Yelp, building out your listing with photos and information and getting some five-star reviews on each site.  It means creating a Facebook Business page, posting relevant and important information and occasionally boosting your posts to expand your reach. It means updating your Zillow and profiles and building out your ‘Meet the Team’ page on your Help-U-Sell website with photos and bios on all staff.  And, a little icing on the cake:  it means dropping a few bucks each month into Google AdWords.

Differentiation is essential.  It’s why you became a Help-U-Sell broker. And differentiation doesn’t end with low set fee pricing; it should radiate into all areas of your consumer offering.  People contact you because they think you might save them some money; but they will do business with you because you have a better marketing plan, a more savvy approach to the business, and the skill and experience to get them to and through closing.  Build your difference in all areas, and then brag about it!

The function of a listing is to create another and another.  Yes, we market to get listings.  But when we get one, that’s when we pull out all the stops.  If you plan your outreach in the neighborhood to go into high gear the moment a sign goes in a yard, you will often find another listing or two.  Marketing around a competitor’s listing is also powerful (Arounds), but nothing works better than marketing hard around your own.

Every Help-U-Sell Marketing Plan should include:  FSBOs, Expireds, Arounds, Just Listed and Sold, and Cis.  There is no flexibility here.  This is essential.  Beyond this you can pick and choose from things like EDDMs, newspaper ads, radio, online campaigns and fake tatoo logos.

There is a direct relationship between your marketing budget and your revenue.  In other words:  you have to spend money to make money.  If your marketing plan is designed correctly and faithfully executed, you should generate about $10 of revenue for each dollar you spend.  So if your revenue goal for the year is $250,000, you probably need to be spending $25,000 a year on marketing:  about $2,000 a month.