The Worst (and Best) Open House

I’m an Open House freak in my Las Vegas neighborhood. Every time I see a directional, I make the turn and go see the house. Of course I’m curious about the house – the floorplan, the decorating, the upgrade ideas. And I’m always checking the value compared to my own home (and thank goodness values have been skyrocketing in Vegas).

But mostly, I’m checking out the agent.  I want to see if they are skilled at getting my name and contact information, at qualifying me as a potential buyer or seller, at building the kind of rapport that leads to a working relationship.

With one very notable exception, were I the Broker, I would have fired all 20 agents I’ve met this year at open houses.  The infractions?  Let me list them:

Poor signage.  Three directionals do not a successful Open House make!  Let’s talk 10 or better!  Your traffic will improve and you will make a powerful impression on the neighborhood, one that may lead to another listing and another.

Poor preparation.  Usually it seems the agent just rushed in and didn’t have time to straighten up, freshen the air, put the dog out, empty the litter box and so on.

Poor greeting at the door.  That means a warm smile, a business card and, most important, the request for the visitor to sign in.

No attempt to qualify the visitor as a buyer, seller, or a curious neighbor.  The agents don’t seem to understand that they are there to make connections, build their database of potential sellers and buyers.

No credible and valuable information about the area, the house, similar properties and so on.

I probably could go on, but let me just give an example:

This weekend, I went to an Open House a block away from my home.  Of course there were just 3 signs (and one of them had blown down).  I got to the front door which was closed.  I rang the bell and opened the door.  Here came the agent, just off her chair in the back, wearing ripped jeans, and no shoes.  Her toes were nicely painted, however. She introduced herself but offered no card (I couldn’t tell you her name or company if my life depended on it).  And, she never asked who I was!  Much less how to reach me via phone or email!  She assumed I was a potential buyer (I think) but made no attempt to  verify this by asking.  When I got to the living room, here were the sellers, sprawled out on the sofa, looking bored, tired and not at all glad to see me.  Are you getting the picture?

Listen:  here’s how you hold a great open house.

You plan a week ahead of the event

Within 36 hours of the open house (that means a day before or an hour before), you go door to door around it, with flyers, inviting the neighbors (and probably picking up a listing lead or two).

You prepare the sellers to have the place in top shape and to be GONE – unless they are holding the Open House themselves or assisting you.

You arrive early and put out no fewer than 10 open house directional signs  (David Bartels tells me this is the most important thing; so important that he pays someone $50 per open house to do it for him – and he puts out 15 signs).  Yes, this will boost traffic, but the main reason you do it is to overwhelm the neighborhood.  You’ve already gone door-to-door, probably sent out Just Listed cards, and now have your signs all over the place; you will have made a powerful impression.

You greet people at the door with a warm smile, a business card and a clipboard.  You ask them to please sign in before you step aside to allow them entry.  Gene Manners is the absolute master at this. He gets contact information on pretty much everybody who shows up. His method?  Present it like a normal business practice – it’s just the way we do it; be warm, friendly and confident.

You ask: ‘what brings you in today?’ The answer will usually tell you if they are a potential buyer, seller, or just some dude like me who goes to open houses to evaluate agents.  By the way, if I am asked – which I never am – I’d certainly describe myself that way. And I’d take the opportunity to talk about Help-U-Sell, too.

You lead the tour and when they return to the front door you ask a qualifying or closing question:  ‘So what do you think?  Is this something you’d consider?’  No matter what they answer, you have the basis for a conversation here and an opportunity to either present other homes or close to write an offer.

If it’s a neighbor or a potential seller, talk about their home value and close to do a Market Analysis.

In short:  don’t be a schlub! Take control and interact with people. Adopt the kind of playful attitude you might take at a Singles Bar:  see how many names and numbers you can come away with!  And then WORK them.

I mentioned the one notable exception.  I went to an Open House in a nearby neighborhood.  The agent did everything right . . . ok, maybe she was a little skimpy with the signs, but other than that, she hit all of the high points I mentioned above.

She met me with a smile and a card and asked me to sign in; then she asked why I was there.  When I told her I was a nosey neighbor, you could almost see the gears shift.  She asked about my house, it’s location, size, upgrades.  She knew the neighborhood and the floorplan.  She asked if I had some of the options that came with that model. Then she congratulated me for choosing a gated community.

‘In this part of town, that gate adds about $25,000 to your value,’ she said.

‘Really?’ I replied, ‘I had no idea!’

‘It’s true,’ she said, ‘I’ve tracked the values and can document it.  And, if you were gated and guarded it would probably be more like $50,000.’

Needless to say, I was impressed.  And though that was last year, I still have her card.

Thinking of Selling? Christmas Might Be the BEST Time to Start!

Christmas houseNobody puts their home on the market during the Holidays, right?  Who needs the disruption?  And, beside that, what potential homebuyers are out looking at this time of the year?  Lots of people think about selling in December, but they usually delay putting the house on the market until the new year.

And, that may not be the best strategy!

Zillow reports that the week between Christmas Day and New Years Eve is the busiest time for home searches on their site. More consumers look at real estate on Zillow between Dec. 25 and Jan. 1 than at any other time of the year!

These are people who have a little time off from work to spend with family.  They consider their housing situation and make plans for the coming year. They start looking at what’s available, at what they  might be able to do.  That’s why home searches spike on Zillow during this important week.

You could do what most sellers do, which is to stay off the market (and miss this prime search season) until the middle of January.  Or, you could do the bold thing that might produce the best result for you:

Put your home on the market on December 26! 

Now all of those people searching will find your home.  That, coupled with a powerful Help-U-Sell Marketing program could produce lots of showings.  Co-ordinate with your Broker to hold a special Open House over New Year’s weekend  . . . and you may be looking at multiple offers on New Year’s Day.

Sometimes the best strategy is to discover what everyone else is doing and do the exact opposite.  If your competition is waiting to sell, now could be your best opportunity.  Contact your local Help-U-Sell office today and let us show you how we can deliver maximum exposure during this important marketing period.  And then, plan a big celebration for the New Year!

For Help-U-Sell Brokers: Listing Consultation Clarification

In my conversations with you, I’ve noticed an occasional quirk in the way you present the Help-U-Sell program to sellers.  I call it a quirk – but it’s really a misunderstanding, one that can create problems for you.

You don’t have three programs for the seller to choose from.*  You have one; and it is FULL SERVICE, including MLS.

We acknowledge that, even with FULL SERVICE, there are three ways your home could sell and each one comes with a different cost.  We charge the seller at closing based on how the home actually sells.

Your Set Fee is the same no matter how the home sells, so you don’t really care which way it goes (although we love it when there is no outside broker/agent involved because then the seller saves more and leaves the transaction very happy.  Happy sellers are the most powerful part of our marketing).

If a seller is willing to partipate aggressively in the marketing of the property (open houses, outreach to neighbors and co-workers, sharing on social media, etc) they may CHOOSE to stay out of the MLS, thus increasing their chances of saving the most.  But it is a choice they make within your Full Service program.

The message is:  don’t over-complicate your listing consultation by forcing the seller to choose this program over that program over the other program.  Present your program for what it is: Full Service with savings. Show the seller how s/he can save and how they can save the most.  Then be what you are, a consultant, and help them make a good decision (choice).

This is very important because it is one of the things that separates us from most of the new compeitiors who are emerging.  These high tech/low touch offers are not designed for choice, not designed for consultation.  It’s one size fits all and take-it-or- leave- it approach.  The expertise that sellers seek is not there or not available to aid them in decision making.  That’s your edge.  You are HIGH TOUCH with technology.  You bring human interaction to the process, helping home sellers understand what’s going on, and functioning as a trusted consultant.

Today’s sellers have been trained to believe they have only one choice:  go with a percentage based dinosaur who may or may not do the mechanical part of the process and advise them through it – OR – go with one of the new machines that only does the mechanical.  YOU are the logical choice in the middle.  You are the new way to sell your home and save, making ample use of existing technologies to get the job done while maintaining the personal, consulting posture that sellers need and want. Your task is the same as it has always been: Educate home owners in your Target Market that you are HERE, people use you, it works and they save thousands.

*It’s ok to end a sentence with a preposition today.  Look it up.  It’s not my favorite form of syntax but if it aids in clear communication, I’m all for it.

Involvement: Part of being a Help-U-Sell Broker

I’ve been looking at the numbers lately.  The one that keeps coming up is 30.  We have 30 offices in coaching right now.  We usually draw about 30 offices to the Wednesday Power Hour calls.  Our annual Success Summits have drawn about 30 offices each of the last few years. That begs the question:

Where are the other 70?

When you join a franchised organization, you have a choice about how you will interact.  You don’t have to do much more than correctly use the brand and operating system, pay your royalties and don’t break the law. The opportunity to become involved, to learn and grow, is just that: an opportunity.

But, we’ve found that those who take advantage of the opportunity to interact are the ones who grow and thrive in the Help-U-Sell family.  The 30 above – and there are variations in each of those lists – are the offices that show the greatest percentage growth in production year over year.

I’m not going to preach too much here.  Truth is:  there are about 30 regular readers of this blog and they tend to be in the lists above, too.  In other words:  I’m probably preaching to the choir! Still, let me remind you of the opportunities you have to engage with the Help-U-Sell Family, opportunities that have proven to have a positive effect on your bottom line.

Power Hour:  Second and Fourth Wednesday each month at Noon Eastern time (9am Pacific). One hour of strategies, best practices, and what’s new. Really:  not to be missed.  Here is a registration link:
Webinar ID: 685-513-379

Help-U-Sell Facebook Family page: our own private conversation.  Only Help-U-Sell people can get access, so we speak freely about our challenges and successes. If you need something or want to share something that’s working, this is the place for you! But you must be a member: request that on this page:

Success Summit 2017: December 5 – 7 at the Golden Nugget hotel in downtown Las Vegas. Half Day – Full Day – Half Day.  Get the scoop on new programs and initiatives, automated and predictive marketing as well as best practices, networking, social time and overall excitement! This is always a GREAT MEETING! Register here:

Help-U-Sell Connect: Our internal newsletter.  Meet top producers, get reminded of deadlines and marketing intiatives.  All the news you want to read in a quick and easy format.

Coaching Groups: Currently we have 7 groups running. Members meet once a week for an hour and help brokers stay focued on what’s most important as they juggle the many commitments that drive their businesses.  These are real, gritty, how-to meetings with lots of interaction between members. We match new members to the appropriate group based on production, stage of growth and goals.  Don’t operate in a vacuum! Join a Coaching Group by contacting James Dingman or John Powell.

There’s more: things like this Blog, for quick help with tech issues (or anything else), formal online training classes, one-on-one help and consultation on operational and tech issues, and so on. But I think the most powerful opportunities are above.  You owe it to yourself and your business to PLUG IN. Make the commitment today by clicking on any or all of the links above.

My Real Estate Pet Peeves

Jack Bailey’s Buyer Consultant Training starts today, so I thought I’d share some of what that excellent program will cure:  a few of my Pet Peeves!

  • Real estate professionals who don’t know how to use their calculators and can’t figure (or at least look up) a mortgage payment on the fly.
  • Real estate professionals who don’t know how to measure for and calculate square footage (at least good enough to tell if the tax records are wrong).
  • Real estate professionals who can fill in the blanks of their State approved purchase agreement but can’t walk through it with a buyer or seller explaining each boilerplate paragraph.
  • Real estate professionals who stop at ‘No,’ when trying to get a deal closed or financed.  The answer to ‘No’  is always the same:  ‘What do we need to do/add/change/find to make it work?’ and ‘What can I do turn this around?’
  • Real estate professionals who can’t do basic pre-qualification of a buyer including an initial discussion of finance including an examination of income-to-debt ratios.  (Though important, this is not a substitute for an in-depth discussion with a lender).
  • Real estate professionals who can’t accurately (within a reasonable tolerance) calculate seller net proceeds and buyers’ funds needed to close quickly and on a legal pad if necessary.
  • Real estate professionals who are afraid of the Internet . . . or even uncomfortable with it.
  • Real estate professionals who ‘wing’ their listing presentations.  It’s a job interview, for goodness sake!  You at least need an outline of where you want to go with it!
  • Real estate professionals who don’t spend money on marketing.  Agents should be spending a minimum of 10% -15% of their anticipated 1099 on marketing.  Brokers should be spending more.
  • Real estate professionals who expect the MLS to sell all of their listings.
  • Real estate professionals who organize their companies to appeal to agents rather than to serve consumers.
  • Real estate professionals who celebrate mediocre production.
  • Real estate professionals who don’t constantly question why things are the way they are and how they could be better for the buying and selling public.

These are just some of mine . . . what are yours?