The 15 Minute Open House Tour
By: Walter Sanford
I can show you how to have fun and how to meet every seller and buyer in the neighborhood. In the same step, I can show you how to create a massive personal promotional campaign and form an alliance with your lender while being a hero to your sellers.
I never liked open houses much. They were always too slow. I never could control the quality of client that, out of courtesy, service, and reputation, I had to wear a smile for. Even though I was missing my favorite "F" words - faith, family, fitness, fun, friends and freedom, I trudged through. I met a speaker who said, "Just say No' to open houses." The sellers sometimes don't understand, so I devised a system to make it fun, massively profitable, and effective.
After fifteen years of doing these open houses and watching others do them, here is the finished system:
Assemble no more than eight properties for a 15-minute open house on the second Sunday from today. Get all the homes to have something in common, i.e.: same general price, size, or all within your local historical district. Keep them within a mile of each other if possible.
Call all the sellers so they can get the homes ready for your big event. Explain it could bring out hundreds of people and that you will have two salespeople in the home while its going on. You will have an ample supply of brochures and maps. Ask them if they might prepare some sort of refreshment. Inform them we will be there and be gone within fifteen to twenty minutes (watch or hear the smile).
Also, mention that your lender will be present to pre-qualify, that there will be a sign announcing the event in their yard, and that some of their neighbors will be invited by written invitation. If you can't find enough of your own sellers to make the event, try the in house listings. Everyone needs an open house to be done.
Next, contact your lender and request his/her services. Explain they will be meeting most potential sellers and buyers for a given geographical area. Then explain that they will be made famous for their ingenious service and they will share in the glow that comes from a unique, effective real estate system. Tell them to have their notebook computer for pre-quals and see if you can get their help in a joint ad that announces:
Walter Sanford of Sanford Systems and Dixon Judd of XYZ Mortgage announce a wonderful real estate event -- eight homes in the Riverview District will be open in 15-minute intervals with five-minute travel times.
Here they are:
1026 Cobb Blvd. Open 1 - 1:15
825 S. Chicago Open 1:20 - 1:35
Dixon will be on hand to pre-qualify buyers, and he will be giving out pre-qualification certificates with the amount of loan that you qualify for.
Refreshments will be served at many of these fine homes (watch the crumbs).
Maps of the tour will be available including a brochure on each home.
Walter will be on hand to inform you about all the recent sales in the neighborhood and even tell you what your home is worth!
NOT TO BE REPEATED FOR ANOTHER YEAR!
Bring your tennis shoes, your car, your appetite, and, maybe if you like a house, your wallet!
P.S. You will be given a ticket for every home you and your family visit. All tickets will be put in a bowl at the end of the tour. At the last home, we will pull out one ticket and the lucky visitor will win a $100.00 gift certificate to our new local restaurant, PICCOLOS!
You can probably split the cost of the gift certificate with your lender. Heck, how many new buyers, sellers, and refinance connections is he/she going to make?
We now should have the sellers and their properties. Make sure you have keys. Next, start making a tour map to hand out to everyone and include all your contact info. Have up to 200 brochures ready on each property. Also, get plenty of business cards or personal brochures ready.
Counsel the sellers on what it means to have a "show ready" home. Explain to your lender that their real job is to quickly determine buyers from sellers. Then they are to sort the ready buyers from the not so ready buyers and introduce only the ready buyers and sellers to me. The contest tickets will be the foundation of your database. Place the ad so it runs a week before the event.
Some finishing touches are to get out the reverse directory and invite ten neighbors, via postcard, from around the block of the homes on tour. Furthermore, you will need a minimum of ten yard signs that need to put up at least five days before the event. They should have your name on them. You should get the credit!
There should also be someplace to announce ?Open House 1pm to 1:15 p.m.? (or whatever time), the day, and the date. I had chalkboard signs made up after I got tired of taping paper signs over my regular signs! You might want some directional signs, especially for the first house. Once you have them at the first house, you probably have them for the tour.
It's Sunday at 12:50 pm; you, your lender, and one helper (family member is okay) are at house number one. It is not unusual to have 20 - 40 people waiting to get in. You let them in and the fifteen minutes are up. Your helper stays behind to clean up and lock up.
You and your lender go to house number two. You and your lender are both pre-qualing and pressing the flesh like crazy! There is certainly not enough time to be bored! People are slapping you on the back and telling you this is a great idea! They're telling you that you are a real estate genius!
House number three is across the street from a competitor's listing. The seller of that house is out mowing the lawn. He sees 85 people go into the home across the street (the pied piper effect) and he goes in to call his listing agent to ask where his buyers are!
As you move on to new houses, you are meeting more sellers and buyers - some want you to make an appointment with them! At house number four, two buyers come up to you at the same time and tell you they "love this home!" Both see each other and return to separate rooms to plan their acquisition strategy.
You get to house seven -- but wait, in the newspaper ad, house seven was only listed as a SECRET, NEVER BEFORE SEEN, SUPER BONUS LISTING ! It's true. I actually called two FSBOs, whose houses met the criteria, negotiated a fee over the phone and told them to get their homes ready for a lot of buyers at 3pm! Those FSBOs haven't seen or heard that many buyers in one place, except in urban legends. You're a hero!
Everyone has a great time. The nice young couple wins the dinner at the last home. Your helper picks up the signs and flags then you sit down to look at your winnings!
Both FSBOs thought it was great, and one of them wants to talk to you in a week. You double ended one of the properties by the Wednesday after the event, and one of the lookers brought their agent back to see house number five again. All of the sellers cannot believe the amount of activity. You have two "down the road" new sellers to follow-up with. Three "ready to buy" new buyers that are pre-qualified have appointments with you this week. Your lender has a couple of refis and some more buyers to work with on financing challenges, plus all the new business you are going to give him/her!
You now have new database entries to add to your follow-up system, and don't forget to write thank you letters to everyone. Don't forget the sellers! Call the local paper and tell them about the success - maybe they will cover the next one. Maybe you can start a local neighborhood renaissance.
Walter Sanford is a top producing real estate agent and speaker who travels the country delivering systems and strategies to top producers for higher productivity and client satisfaction.
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