I brought the cookies.

On this path of becoming a financially successful real estate broker, I need actual clients.  As I ask and learn, open houses are rated high for finding buyers and meeting people.  Great! I would like to have an open house.

To date, I have been a part of three open houses.

A couple things I learned that effect your open house experience.  The first is location.  The second price.  My first open house, I was an assistant and so happy I had the chance to observe.  It was in the half million price range and about 15 minutes on the edge of town. A nice house, single level, custom to the smallest detail with beautiful landscaping and quality, quiet location.  The broker who let me tag along, a pro, successful and classy, had her game.  She was dressed well and prepared.  She had her mobile office, comps and knew practically every house on the market.  Her knowledge of the market became evident later in the open house.  I brought the cookies and lots of questions.

The visitors slowly trickled in.  Great!  I was a tad nervous.  The first couple were so sweet and looked through the whole house and the yard.  They were friendly and spoke of selling their house first then buying.  I was like a shadow.  I watched and listened as the pro spoke of the coffer ceilings and the marble counters.  What is a coffered ceiling?  Oh boy, I have so much to learn.  She spoke of the design style and color palette.  Nothing pushy, all helpful.  Then she asked them to sign a guest card.  And they did.  This little act of filling out a guest card would prove problematic for me.

During this open house, multiple couples walked through.  I had to think that these people weren’t just average looky-Lou’s with the drive and price of the home.  One couple in particular walked in near the end of the open house.  The man was a tad grumpy and the woman had wet hair and both were dressed casually with sneakers and sweatshirts.  I watched as the pro spoke with them just as she had all the others.  The consummate professional sharing her knowledge.  When they went outside to check the land, I asked the pro what she thought of them.  She stated that they were serious.  I was kind of shocked.  How could she tell?  She explained it was the questions they asked.  Hmph.  I had completely misjudged.  And herein is a problem.

This couple came back in and we all gathered around in the kitchen.  The pro asked some questions about their real estate plans.  Why they want to move?  Grown kids heading to college, huge home and want to downsize.  Would they need to sell their home first?  No, they can have two homes for a bit, so nothing stopping them if they find what they want.  Have they been looking long?  Yes! Months.  And then they started speaking of properties on the market that were similar.  And this is when the pro stunned me with her market knowledge.  She asked about one place, oh they saw it and it had blah-blah was wrong with it.  They asked her had she seen a different property, she had and what a crazy color.  Then she asked about the one over by that road and what they thought of yadda-yadda.  And this back and forth of about ten properties went on for at least ten minutes.  I just observed and took mental notes.  KNOW YOUR MARKET!  Dang, that was crystal clear.  The pro knew her stuff and these folks knew their stuff.  It seemed like this was a match.

Once the open house was over, the pro sat down with me and shared her opinions about starting out.  I took actual notes.  I felt so, so green.  She shared her years of training she had in the corporate ideology and how she had to reprogram how she does business once she got out of that.  It is refreshing to hear the tales of someone I admire in their early days.  But it left me wondering, Is it going to take me 20 years to be successful?

I left that first open house brimming with optimism and the three guests cards that I would promptly follow up on.  It also allowed me to see my first problem in judgement.  I had not thought that couple the pro spoke with in detail about numerous properties were serious buyers.  Where did my snap judgement lead me astray?

My next adventure was a solo open house.  Solid location, priced too high.  The home was in good condition and backed up to a park.  I was running the show, I brought the cookies and a cute little sign I made asking people to complete a guest card.  Three brokers from other companies came, one actually tried to poach a guy looking at the house.  No joke!  The guy was just a looky-lou but still, no poaching.  Most people were friendly and one couple came back twice to see the house.  I was welcoming and asked questions but I had a hard time getting people to fill out my guest cards.  I felt like I was asking a lot of a stranger to give me their contact info.  Turns out people agreed that it was too much info to share.  I ended up with three fake emails.  Fakes!  I mean come on just leave it blank but to make it up?  Open houses are great places to find potential clients.  Your chances of actually selling the house you are hosting to a person who comes to the open house is rather low but the people who do come to an open house may need a broker.  That’s why the guest cards are important for the follow up consequently the need for the correct email.

Another lesson from an open house.  I was locking the door and heading off to collect my signage complete with balloons, when a car pulls up.  A lady walks to the door at which I am fiddling with the lock box.  She would like to see the house.  Of course I open it back up.  We had such a great conversation.  She explained her real estate luck in buying a house and waiting for years until the market was fab and making a sizable profit.  She was a teacher and we spoke of teaching, the joy, workload and love that teaching brings into your life.  It was  a genial talk.  She already had an agent and was looking for an income rental property.  After 30 minutes, we both left the house.  I drove away thinking, I may never sell her a house but we had a peachy chat.

My most recent and third open house was the smallest and smelliest yet.  It was overpriced in my opinion for the size and smell.  It also backed up to a different park and I actually live in this neighborhood and think it’s an awesome location.  But, it is about 13 minutes from downtown.  I arrived and opened every window.  I cranked up the thermostats and plugged in my soy wax melt.  I brought the cookies, cookies in a bowl and cookies is small boxes with my card taped to it.  I went to the neighbors on either side of the house being held open and invited them over.  Then I waited.  And waited.  It was cold.  I closed all the windows and walked around the house looking for the heat.  I didn’t see any vents or floor boards.  There was no central heating.  What was the deal?  There was a thermostat mounted on the wall in every room.  Around the time I had just scanned the whole house, one of the neighbors stops by.  He was cordial. I mentioned it was chilly and I had the heaters on but I didn’t know what was wrong.  He stated “ceiling heat”.   I would like to state for the record I am from Hawaii.  And heating and cooling are not one of my stronger skill sets.  I said “I don’t know”.  That’s all I had.  I did not comprehend his statement.  At this precise moment my trusty assistant/advisor/confidant (also from Hawaii) walks into the house to check on this open house event.  I told her it was cold and there seemed to be no heat and told her what the neighbor said.  She gave me a look, incredulous, could there really be heat coming from the ceiling?  With her height advantage, she reached up and sure enough the ceiling was warm!  Shut the front door!  Heat out of the ceiling!  Wait a minute…..Heat rises…..How would heat coming out of the ceiling heat the house?  At this point, I am positive the neighbor left thinking I was the DUMBEST real estate broker in town.  But really, heat from the ceiling?!

My third open house ended with a lovely woman who had also been a teacher explaining her life and real estate goals.  She too, already had a broker.  We talked about all kinds of things and I sent her on her way with a box of cookies with my card attached.  I headed home.  It was still a sunny day.  I have no new leads but I learned about ceiling heat and the importance of filing taxes to qualify for a loan.  I had leftover boxes of cookies that I shared with my neighbors.  And I had one more lump.




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