Have you ever hosted an open house that had very little foot traffic?
Well, this scenario has happened to most of us before, especially real estate investors who are not real estate agents and do not host open houses all the time!
Over the years, we have hosted a handful of open houses for our fix and flip projects. Along with a couple of partners, we just finished our latest property. We completely renovated a 6-bedroom, 6 ½ bath, 7,200 sqft home outside of Langhorne, PA. It is a one-of-a-kind property in the market, so we knew it would be imperative to schedule an open house as quickly as possible after listing it.
We decided to list it on a Thursday and then schedule an open house on the following Sunday. We had about 30 people through the open house. We had some neighbors and friends, but also a handful of interested and potential buyers. All in all, we felt like it was a successful open house. We had great success with some of the strategies we used, so I thought I would pass them along to the BP community.
Preparing for the Open House
Get Organized & Develop Your Checklist
In previous posts, I have mentioned various checklists for managing rental properties. I am a HUGE fan of putting together checklists for just about everything. I mean everything! I created a checklist that helped me stay organized for both the preparation steps as well as the “day of the open house” to-dos. When you have an open house for a home that was just renovated and empty, you have to bring over everything. So I highly recommend you create a simple checklist to keep yourself organized.
No Showings Until Open House
When we listed the property, we decided to list it as “active”; however, in the listing notes, we added a note that there were no showings until the open house. Ideally, it would have been better to list the property earlier in the week (on a Monday or Tuesday) and then have the open house on a Sunday. That way, there is some built up demand.
A Few Days Before: Making a Personal Connection
On the Friday before the open house, I did three things to invite real estate agents and neighbors to the open house.
Drop by Real Estate Offices
I dropped off open house flyers, along with a plate of homemade cookies, to about four real estate offices that were close to our renovated home. Everyone seemed appreciative, and I do believe this differentiated us from other open houses. I even chatted with some real estate agents while I was dropping these flyers/cookies off. Side note: I used a great website to create flyer like this — canva.com. I have the free version, so it did not cost anything. I also use vflyer.com, which has the ability to create a HTML code to use for Craigslist and other online sites to market your property. The canva.com site does not go out to other websites; however, I really like the design templates they have, so this is a great option if you are going to create a physical flyer.
I also drove to the street this renovated home is on and put a flyer in each neighbor’s mailbox. At first when I told my husband what I was doing, he thought this would be a waste of time. However, I disagreed. I think it is important to invite the community and share with them the work you have done on the home. You never know who they know! One the neighbors came through during the open house, and I got to chatting a bit with him. After seeing the house, he said to me, “If you don’t have this sold in 30 days, please call me. I might be interested!” So, you NEVER know!
Invite Real Estate Agents Who Have Sold a Home Similar to Yours
Out of all the ideas that I have listed in this blog post, I think this is probably the best one. This requires a little bit of research; however, your efforts will yield a great return. I conducted some research on the local market in the MLS. I found all the properties that sold in the last six months that had a similar price, size, bedrooms/baths, neighborhood, and school district. I then created a spreadsheet and listed out all the real estate agents and offices who sold these homes.
As a result, I came up with a list of about 35 real estate agents (this also helped identify the key real estate offices to drop off open house flyers/cookies in my previous tip). If they have sold a similar home in the past, chances are they have a buyer pool that is still looking for a home. I then emailed very single one of these agents to invite them to the open house.
I did not send a mass email to the group. I sent individual emails out with their names included in the email. I actually got two email responses as a result. Both agents thanked me for sending them the information and told me that they would keep this property in mind for buyers. One of these two agents and I have corresponded a bunch of times. I am in the process of scheduling a tour for him and the six agents on his team to come and see the property. My next plan is to mail a flyer for the next open house we schedule to this group as well.
Day of Open House
Get There at Least an Hour Prior
The reason for this is to have enough time to prepare everything. There was three of us at the open house. I set up everything in the kitchen. I also brought over soap for the bathroom, little trash bins, and hand towels for the bathroom. I wasn’t sure if people even used the bathroom during open houses; however, I thought it was a nice gesture.
While I was in one of the bathrooms setting up the soap and hand towels, I noticed that the sink needed a wipe down. So I was glad that I brought over windex and paper towels! Again, when you do a rehab and the house is not lived in, ALWAYS bring over windex and towels. You never know what you will have to clean up! The other reason for getting there early is to bake cookies in the house. That way, there is a fresh smell of baked cookies!
Add a Personal Touch
I set up some soft music to play in the background and put out some beautiful fresh flowers, cold water, and fresh cookies right alongside the sign in sheet. Additionally, it is always best to turn on all the lights and open all the shades as you prepare for the open house.
I hope you found these tips and ideas helpful to you! I would love to hear from investors who have hosted open houses for your fix and flips.
What have you done to stand out from the crowd? What have you done to differentiate yourself?
Thanks for reading and commenting!