Why Host an Open House

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Open houses aren't the best vehicles for selling homes. So why do real estate agents bother with them? For the following reason: Open houses are a great means for prospecting.

An open house provides a real estate agent with a neighborhood store front from which to do business for a day. Each time you host an open house, you set up shop in a client home and open the doors to the opportunity to meet prospects, establish relationships, and expand your real estate clientele.

If your real estate business could benefit from an influx of buyer or seller prospects, start staging more open houses. You can hardly find a more effective way to generate leads face to face. And, as a bonus, occasionally your efforts will net a sale. Not a bad bonus for a solid prospecting tool.

Think of the open house as the real estate agent's equivalent to the retailer's loss leader, which is something that creates the initial opening for a sale. In the same way that a grocery store manager offers milk at a discounted price to draw shoppers into the store, a real estate agent invests time and money in an open house to build traffic, attract prospects, hand out business cards, and cultivate sales of other products.

When I was selling real estate, I wasn't a big fan of open houses. I wanted to keep Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays free so that I could take a scenic three-hour drive and enjoy the weekend with my family at our vacation home. Obviously, I couldn't have it both ways, so I opted out of open houses. But that was then and this is now. A lot has happened to change the way real estate agents work. The impact of the Internet, the time-draining effects of dual-income families, and the record low number of homes for sale have combined to put a new emphasis on the importance of open houses and why you should host them. Open houses rarely lead directly to the sale of the house in question, but as the following sections explain, they present many other benefits.

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