Archive for Open Houses

How NOT to Do an Open House

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Open House

If you’ve been following Printerbees for a while, you know that we love live video and video tours as an alternative to open houses. The technology is amazing, and you’re much safer than when strangers are in the home with you.

However, there are still markets where open houses are the preferred method. Perhaps your buyers are not of the age where they are familiar or comfortable with technology. Or perhaps the market is so strong in your area that an open house is a great way to get multiple bids.

Regardless, there are still plenty of reasons to do a regular open house. However, you want to ensure you do them the right way. So AVOID making these crazy mistakes – some of which I’ve seen this week!

Don’t Have Pets in the Home

Somehow sellers realize they have to leave the home during the open house, but think they can leave their pets behind.


There are folks with allergies, there are folks who hate snakes (or lizards or rabbits or…), and it’s just an all-around bad look.

No pets.

Don’t Schedule Professional Work During the Open House

I actually saw this happen. An open house was going on in my area, and then the lawn service showed up, parked RIGHT IN FRONT of the Open House sign, and proceeded to mow during the event.

I cannot figure out who thought that was a good idea. Make sure that your sellers know what professional services are supposed to happen during the open house, and cancel them in advance.

You do NOT want that level of unprofessionalism when you are trying to sell a home!

Don’t Overdo the Scents

It’s important to have a home smelling fresh and pleasant during an open house. Unfortunately, some sellers and agents go overboard.

Some buyers may be allergic to fragrances, and overusing an air freshener can make buyers wonder what you’re trying to cover up.

And don’t get me started on the dozens of candles thing… not only does it look a bit odd sometimes, there’s a definite fire hazard involved.

Don’t Stage Halfway

Staging is a vital part of helping buyers see themselves in the home. If the seller agrees to staging, make sure they agree to doing the whole home.

It’s really jarring to see a beautiful front room but the rest of the house is vacant. An empty home is hard to imagine yourself in.

And while I know you want to help your sellers, don’t bring secondhand furniture in and try to stage unless you truly know what you’re doing. Let a professional stager handle that part.

Don’t Skip Cleaning – Everywhere!

As a real estate agent, you must impress upon your sellers how important it is to clean everywhere if they want to sell the home.

People will look in the sinks, in closets, and in the garage. They won’t care that part of your basement is storage. They’ll even open the junk drawer.

If things are dirty, disorganized, and unattractive, buyers will assume that the home is not cared for. If you don’t clean your closets, can you really be trusted to keep the furnace in good condition and take care of water before it causes damage?

The buyer will think not. And they’ll look elsewhere.

What Have You Seen?

So what have you seen that’s a huge open-house no-no? We’d love to hear. And if you’re getting ready for an open house this fall, be sure you have your flyers and brochures in order. We can help – just give us a call at 877-939-2337 today!

Two Unique Ideas for Open Houses

Unique Ideas for Open Houses

I’ve heard a lot of Realtors® say that open houses simply don’t work. Open houses have also been under fire due to safety issues.

However, I like to keep an open mind, and I recently discovered two unique ideas about how to maximize the impact of an open house. Both of these come from Realtors® who are actually doing them. I’d love your opinion – would you conduct an open house this way?

Limit to One Open House & Create an Offer Deadline

Having endless open houses is not only a hassle for the agent and homeowner; it creates absolutely no urgency on the part of buyers. There’s a feeling that you need them more than they need you.

To combat this, consider having only one showing and creating a deadline for making an offer. When there’s only one open house, you’ll have more buyers come in, which makes it more worth your time. When it’s crowded, that also creates the perception that there will be a lot of offers, which encourages buyers to make a higher offer than they might have been planning to.

You can also create a short timeframe for receiving offers after the open house. If the open house is on Saturday, you can create a deadline for receiving offers of noon on Monday. It helps create a sense of urgency to act, and you also reinforce the idea that there will be a lot of competition for the home.

Because people want what other people seem to be interested in, you can use this scarcity and deadline strategy to create interest and move a home quickly.

Hold a Community Event in a Staged Home

Those looking to really draw a crowd to a listing may plan to hold a social event at the home. This is not just an open house – it’s planned as a full community event.

Holding an event, complete with food, drinks, and even live music can be a great way to showcase a home’s potential for entertainment and fun. It will draw a bigger crowd than a traditional open house, and that helps build interest and create competition.

You can advertise this kind of open house event on social media, neighborhood websites, and even in newspapers or through printed flyers and postcards. It’s a way to take a boring, regular open house to a whole new level – in fact, you might even find yourself having fun!

In all likelihood, this type of open house event would only be suitable for a larger home that was at a higher price point. However, it could be a great way to showcase that luxury listing.

Thoughts on Open Houses?

I think it’s pretty clear that boring, regular open houses are on the way out, if not completely gone already. However, there are still agents out there being creative and finding new ways to elevate open houses as a marketing tool.

What do you think? Would you do either of these? If you have already, what was your experience? I’d love to hear from you!

If you’re ready to advertise your next open house, be sure to take a look at Printerbee’s large collection of customizable Just Listed postcards and property flyers. We’d love to help you get the word out!

Are You Safe as a Realtor®?

Are You Safe as a Realtor®?

September is Realtor® Safety Month, so I want to ask you – are you safe as a Realtor®? There are a lot of areas where safety plays into real estate work. You can help your sellers stay safe, you can keep yourself safe during showings, and most of all, you can keep yourself from being a target.

How to Avoid Becoming a Target

You survive 100% of the attacks that don’t happen, so focus first on preventing yourself from being a target. Criminals are generally focused on opportunity, and go after victims that give them the best opportunities. With that in mind, here are some steps you can take to avoid being a target:

  • Pay Attention to How You Appear. Criminals target Realtors® who work alone and who appear to be wealthy. They often focus on women, as women are seen to be weaker than men and less likey to be able to defend themselves. When working as a Realtor®, avoid working alone and avoid ostentatious displays of jewelry or other wealth.
  • Limit Vulnerability. If someone stands too close to you, immediately make eye contact and establish personal boundaries. Don’t be easily intimidated. In addition, be wary of someone who asks a lot of questions about a showing that involve how alone you’ll be. Questions like “Are other buyers going to be there” and “Is the property vacant” and “Will you be alone” are all red flags.
  • Never Work Alone, Especially on Secluded Properties. The more secluded a property, the higher the opportunity for a criminal. Neighbors, foot traffic, and great lighting are all deterrents to criminal activity. The biggest deterrent, of course, is simply not working alone. Don’t allow yourself to be isolated.

How to Protect Your Sellers

Real estate safety is certainly about your personal safety, but it’s also about those you work with. You want to ensure that those who list with you are safe as well, especially as it concerns their personal property. Not only that, when you focus on the seller’s safety, it will help you stand out from other agents who aren’t talking about it.

Here are some important tips to share with sellers:

  • Prescription Drugs. Not only is your seller’s health no one’s business, but prescription drugs are a major temptation for criminals. If a criminal doesn’t use them personally, they can sell them on the black market. Prescription drugs should be locked up or removed before showings and open houses. Unlocked medicine cabinets are no safer than leaving them out in the open.
  • Remind your clients that you aren’t responsible for valuables during showings. They should carefully lock up or put away valuables during showings. This isn’t limited to jewelry – it can also include cell phones, mail that contains personal information, artwork, gaming equipment, and valuable collections. Do your part as well, and avoid posting photographs or videos of the home that contain shots of valuable technology, gaming items, or collections.
  • Beware of Strangers at the Door. Just because someone shows up saying they’re interested in the home doesn’t mean your sellers should let them in. Be sure they know that only a real estate professional using the lockbox should be able to access the home.
  • Put in Extra Locks and Security. When a home is listed for sale, criminals see it as being more vulnerable simply because people go in and out a great deal. Advise your sellers to put in deadbolts, put extra locks and sticks on sliding doors, and take other security measures.

Keep Yourself Safe

Finally, it’s vital to keep yourself safe during a showing and open house. It’s not hard to avoid being a target, but it can be inconvenient. Remember that a few extra minutes, a delayed appointment, and the buddy system are worth the trouble when it comes to your safety.

  • Never Meet Someone for the First Time at a Property. Yes, the home is on the way, they just called, and you don’t want to miss a buyer. But it’s not worth your safety. Firmly tell interested parties that they must have a meeting with you at your office before they see a property. Don’t let them intimidate or badger you into anything else.
  • Keep People in Front of You. A criminal will have a much harder time surprising you from the front. If you’re doing a showing, keep everyone in front of you. Don’t allow yourself to be trapped in a room without a way out.
  • Make Sure Others Know Where You Are. Your brokerage, your friends, and your family should always know where you are, the address of the property, and who you’re meeting. There are also cell phone apps that can enhance safety by tracking your location, such as StaySafe, bSafe, or Bugle.
  • Have a Buddy. When you’re doing a showing or an open house, don’t do it alone. It may be inconvenient, but if you set up a swap system with someone else, it doesn’t have to be a hassle. Remember, having two people makes you less vulnerable. It’s worth your safety to have a buddy.

In the end, remember that it’s worth the time and effort it takes to stay safe. When you start getting careless, you unfortunately open yourself up to being a target for an opportunistic criminal. It’s not just children who need to be careful around those they don’t know – we all do.

What do you do to stay safe? Share in the comments!

The Pros and Cons of Open Houses

Pros and Cons of Open Houses

Are open houses overrated? This is a hotly debated topic among today’s Realtors®.

In terms of selling tools, is it dynamite or a dinosaur? There is certainly merit to both sides of this argument. So let’s examine the pros and cons of using the open house to sell a home in today’s marketplace.

Pro: Some Say It Gives More Exposure to the Home

Many purists still swear that properly staging the home and bringing people into to it during an open house remains the best way to showcase it.

They swear by the effect of someone walking through a beautiful home and envisioning their future, as they’re there, in person. They’re looking at the backyard, smelling the kitchen, and feeling the urgency as they see all these other browsers in their future home.

Con: Some Say Open Houses Don’t Really Work

The scenario above is exactly what you’re hoping for, but some say the numbers reveal that this rarely happens.

“The percentage of homes that actually sell as a result of an open house is less than 2-3%,” wrote real estate blogger, Kyle Hiscock.

“The majority of homes are sold when a buyer has a Realtor, requests an appointment, and tours your home privately.  The crowd that an open house attracts is more than likely not going to be the crowd that is going to purchase the home.”

Pro: Some Say It Helps Buyers Look Beyond the Listing

Browsing a photo gallery online is great, but it doesn’t capture the whole experience. An open house can really give fence-sitters the push they need to go into buy-mode. Walking around the house and seeing it all professionally staged can take someone from curious to interested in the span of a single walkthrough

Con: You Can Get the Same Effect From a Virtual Tour

Today’s technology allows you to get better results from a professional video tour of any home.

Now, the key word is professional. The right cinematography and some suitable music can actually create a better experience than an open house. And, this tour doesn’t require the seller or buyer to give up their Saturday.

Another great option is using Facebook Live or Periscope to give a live walk-through yourself. It won’t seem as professional and polished, but it will seem authentic, which can play to your advantage as well.

Pro: Many Sellers Will Still Want the Open House

Your clients may demand it. They’ve seen open houses work over the years, and won’t feel like you’re giving them the full treatment until you stage their home and host an open house.

One of the reasons they decided to work with a Realtor® was to tap into pro home staging and open house skills.

If you don’t host an open house, they may feel like you’re not doing everything in your power to sell their home.

Con: The Customer Isn’t Always Right

You’re the expert, not the seller. If a client insists on an open house, it’s your job to convince them that you’re a seasoned expert, and you feel that the open house is a waste of time.

You could remind them that people who go to open houses may not be qualified leads, but rather nosy neighbors or “tire-kickers” who just want to look without any real intent.

You can show them that tactics like a virtual tour or social media posting can actually yield much better results.

As you can see, there is no clear answer. For everyone who says they have had great success with open houses, there are others who say the numbers don’t back this up. Some will say it’s a tried and tested way to showcase the home, while others say technology now gives us better ways.

One alternate tactic some people have embraced in recent years is using a series of postcards to generate interest. To see what’s possible, click here to choose a design and layout.

Three Ways to Improve the Effectiveness of Your Next Open House

Maximize Your Open House

Many times, an open house is something a Realtor® dreads. Will anyone come? Will they be interested in anything more than the snacks? Will you end up with a ton of random snacks left over? Will anyone remember your specific property given the other open houses also going on?

Unfortunately, most Realtors® don’t know how to properly capitalize on an open house. They bring snacks, hang out in the kitchen, and wait for buyers and buyers’ agents to wander through the house. A well-prepared Realtor® may have handouts and an elevator pitch about the best elements of the home. But that’s usually it. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are three ways to dramatically improve the effectiveness of your next open house.

Consider Holding a “Neighbors Only” Pre-Open House to Build Buzz

The exclusivity of this event improves the chances that it will get a good crowd – along with your excellent promotion, of course. Nice invitations sent through the mail to that specific neighborhood, along with great signage and a little food and drink will make a big splash in the neighborhood.

Once the neighbors see it, they’ll start talking. Once they start talking, you get even more promotion for the primary open house weekend. It’s a great opportunity for the neighbors to talk to any friends or family that might be looking to move into the area. This, in addition to additional promotion both online and off-line, will help draw a crowd to the official open house.

Hold a Drawing or Contest

If you do a great job with promotion, you’ll get more buyers and agents through the home than you will have time to talk to. A great way to get contact information so that you can follow up is to hold a drawing. Everyone loves to win prizes, and simply having buyers fill out a name, address, and phone number will give you the contact information you need.

Once you have the contact information, use it! You want to sell the home for your client, so call buyers and agents. Ask what they thought. Ask if they’d like an additional showing. Do what you can do to really hustle and connect with those prospective buyers. In the process, you may find buyers that need an agent as well. In addition to focusing on selling the home, an open house can help you with prospecting.

Give Away Branded Freebies

One problem Realtors® have at open houses is standing out to buyers – buyers who may be seeing a lot of homes or open houses over the weekend. Giving a packet of information about the home is an important way to stay top-of-mind. Some Realtors® don’t want to use paper anymore, but without something physical to hold on to, it’s easy for you to be forgotten. A great addition to this is handing out branded freebies. You can list your office information along with a “Thanks for visiting out open house” message. A keychain, bottle opener, or other useful trinket will help you stand out.

Giving away branded items will help not only the property remain in the front of a buyer’s mind, but also you personally as a Realtor®. That can come in handy in the future, if they need further help with a real estate transaction or have a referral to give.

Making the most of an open house takes some extra work, but it’s worth it. Not only will you sell a home quicker, but you‘ll encounter additional prospects and open up opportunities for referrals.

How do you make the most of your open houses? Share in the comments!

Tired of Traditional Open Houses? Use Periscope Instead

Periscope for Realtors

Would you love to have a completely safe open house done in 45 minutes for dozens of viewers, without having to buy any cookies or punch? If so, you should get to know the new Periscope app.

Periscope is a free app that allows you to share live video and audio from your mobile device. The video can go as long as you want, and viewers can interact with you through chat messages. This allows them to ask questions, make comments, and request specific things, like to see the birds near you.

As a result, Periscope is the perfect tool to do a live, narrated walk-through of a home for an audience of agents and/or buyers. No one has to travel to get to you, your safety is not compromised, and you don’t spend hours in a home with no one coming in.

How to Use Periscope

Periscope isn’t hard to use. First, you download the app to your mobile device. While Periscope was initially just available for Apple, it is now also available on Android. This means that no matter what you or your viewers are using, you’re covered.

Once you have the app, you’ll need to connect it to your Twitter account. Simply opening Periscope and following the directions will allow you to do that. To make things simple, keep your Twitter name as your Periscope username, unless it’s inappropriate. (In that case, make a new Twitter account!) You can follow folks in Periscope you know from Twitter, or search for specific users to follow if you know their names.

Before you broadcast, let people know that you plan to do a Periscope open house, and let them know what your Periscope username is. Share the information anywhere you can to reach your target audience – email, Facebook, Twitter, and more. Share the date and time you plan to broadcast. Right before you start, send out a message that the Periscope is about to begin!

When you’re ready to begin, open the app and click the orange button at the bottom right. It will prompt you to name your broadcast, and then click “begin broadcast” to begin! Your viewers can watch from their mobile device or through their internet browser.

During the Periscope, viewers can use chat to ask questions and interact with you. If the chat bubbles annoy you, they can be turned off. You can find out more details about specific Periscope options and setup on the Periscope Help site.

Benefits of a Periscope Open House

The benefits of doing an open house through Periscope are tremendous. Not only is your safety assured – no one is physically in the home with you – but the homeowners don’t have to worry about theft or damage either. In addition, you no longer have to sit around wasting time for hours. Your Periscope video is available for 24 hours after you record it, right in the app. Anyone who missed the time can still view your narrated tour when it’s most convenient for them.

If you felt you had a great open house and answered a lot of key questions, you may want to share the video with others beyond the normal 24 hour window. To do this, you can use a free third-party capture app, like Katch. Katch allows you to save your Periscope presentations indefinitely, as well as allowing you to upload them to YouTube or another video website. In this way, your Periscope broadcasts can become part of your overall marketing plan for your listing.

Stop wasting hours and risking your safety with a traditional open house. Download Periscope for free, set up your account, and start broadcasting! You’ll save tons of time and money, as well as showing yourself to be at the forefront of real estate marketing. And while you’re at it, follow me too. I’m @NadineLarder, and I’d love to meet you. :-)

Are you on Periscope? Let us know your username, so we can follow you!