Open houses are NOT dead. Not by a long shot. Just recently I posted on Zillow after Spencer Rascoff praised a local Realtor in his neighborhood who was working a listing very hard. Buyers and shoppers have access to plenty of information now. They want to see homes when they want but they don’t always want to “waste” their real estate agent’s time. Just recently I got an offer on one of my listings as a direct result of hold an open house. Had it not been held open, I doubt the buyer would have even come to see it.
That being said, there are many more ways to advertise an open house these days. Some cost money like the newspaper, sending flyers to other agents, etc. There are plenty of free ways though too. In many cases, I think the free methods may be more effective at marketing to your target audience but I have one paid method in here that I am experimenting with as well. When I advertise an open house these days I:
Post it on my local MLS and my brokerage’s website (if applicable) – This is a no brainer. If your MLS has a place to enter broker’s opens, you should certainly use it since many agents do check there to see when occupied properties will be available for viewing. I’m with Windermere and they also have a place to post public opens. Anywhere I can advertise an open house for free is on top of my list.
Use Postlets to create a Craigslist ad – I like Postlets because it creates very attractive ads in the first place. It saves me a lot of time being able to copy and paste for Craigslist instead of trying to type up a text ad from scratch or busting out html on the fly. Neither of those methods rival Postlets. Check out my Postlets page for examples of what the ads look like. This is pretty similar to what you’ll see when you use them to post your ad on Craigslist as well.
Use www.openhomez.com to syndicate the open house ad and track it – The jury is still out on this website as far as I’m concerned, but I’ve been giving it a chance lately and it has gained a few more sets of eyeballs. It’s easy to use and the price is right so why not? They spew out a feed on Twitter of all the open houses people input. This can’t be a bad thing.
Zillow! – Zillow is yet another place to post open houses. Once again, free exposure is a good thing so take all of it that you can get.
Advertise my open on twitter and facebook - Postlets makes this ridiculously easy but don’t forget to punch in the time and date that you will be there. See my twitter for a sample of what my open house ads look like. I use facebook to keep in touch directly with other real estate agents, past clients, friends and family. It doesn’t hurt to share your open houses with them. First off, it gives you something to write about. Second, it lets them know you are still actively in the real estate business. Third, you never know, they may just want to see it.
Change my blog entry about the listing to highlight there is an open house – I have started to write conversational blog entries on my blog about my various listings. When I say conversational, I mean that it’s not just my MLS listing rehashed. It’s neighborhood information along with other property or building information that you would not have room for on a normal flyer. I make sure to pepper the entry with keywords that are used by people who might want to see my listing. Here is the link to the listings I have posted on my blog so you can see what I’m talking about.
Direct market to agents - Other real estate agents are still your number one source of buyers. I try to send out emails to follow up with agents who have shown the property already. Also send out to agents who have other listings nearby. They are not your competition, they can be your biggest allies and many of them would love to join up with you and hold their properties open as well. Another idea is to check any data you may have harvested on Google Analytics. Look to see which city most traffic to your listing has come from and focus your marketing effort on those agents.
Use google adwords to stir up some more traffic - This is one of my newest tricks. I’ve started purchasing keywords on Google Adwords for certain properties I have listed. I won’t post the ones I’m using here because I don’t want any of you skewing my data. I’ll give you some hints here though. Say you have a Brownstone in New Jersey for sale and you are going to hold it open soon. You would want to go on google and use their Keyword Tool. This tool allows you to see how much traffic various keywords are getting. A couple of phrases I would try would be “New Jersey brownstone”, “Brownstone for sale”, “New Jersey townhouse”. You can purchase ALL of these phrases and set a monthly ad budget. This will keep your costs in line. Aim the ad you create back at your conversational blog entry or somewhere else you’ve advertised your open house. I plan to elaborate on this later in another blog when I’ve had more experience with it but my first impression has been very positive.
These are just a few of the things that *I* have been doing lately to stir up traffic to my open houses. What have you been doing? I would like to hear; please post in the comments if you have any other ideas.