Conversion is Key for This Open House Expert

Nicole Nicolay

Nicole Nicolay, REALTOR®

When one-third of your annual sales in a single year stem from open houses, you pay attention. Something is working.

For strategic-minded REALTORS®, open houses are an opportunity to convert market watchers, tire kickers, and fence sitters into clients. What sets apart a “showing” from a “client conversion and closing opportunity” can be attributed to a REALTOR’s style and RPR. That, according to this San Francisco based agent who was recently named Rookie of the Year by the Bayeast Association of REALTORS®.

“I have a clearly defined strategy for planning and carrying out an open house,” said Nicole Nicolay, a REALTOR® with the Engel Group at J. Rockcliff Realtors, Pleasanton, California. “It’s a game plan that has consistently resulted in above-average performance.”

Nicole, who has more than a decade’s worth of real estate marketing and technology expertise under her belt, said the data and reports found within RPR fulfill three vital components of her open house strategy: 1. Using insightful, engaging icebreakers; 2. Providing credible, relevant information; and 3. Ensuring a timely and consistent follow-up method.

A Meeting of the Minds

Conversion is Key for This Open House ExpertNicole greets her open house guests with an enthusiastic welcome. “I’m super passionate about greeting people as they enter and then touring them through the home. I make it a practice never to sit down. I want to be ready … meeting people at the door.”

Then come the icebreakers—what Nicole attributes to her success at converting visitors to clients. “If I engage them, I can make an impression, one that attests to my passion and knowledge.” So she intuitively asks the right questions, without being intrusive.

“I’m never shy about engaging people to find out where they’re coming from. I strive to establish a connection from the start,” said Nicole. “For example, I’ll ask if they are from the area and, if not, I know what direction to take.” At that point, Nicole will offer her potential client information on area schools and the neighborhood, all drawn from the RPR platform.

As the conversation continues, Nicole will flush out whether or not her open house guest is considering both buying and selling. If so, she promptly offers to send them an RPR Mini Property Report on their current residence, complete with a comp analysis. “It gives me something extra to touch base with them. And because they asked for it, they don’t feel like I’m pouncing on them. It’s an even exchange. We’ve built a relationship.”

Right on the Money

Open house visitors all have different scenarios and agendas, including the so-called “nosey neighbors.” Yet, Nicole advises that neighbors are not to be overlooked. “Often times, they are considering putting their own home on the market and that by visiting open houses they are able to gauge where they stand,” she explains.

Right there, Nicole uses her iPad to pull up RPR’s maps. The display reveals the RVM®, or Realtor Valuation Model®, for every house in the neighborhood, including theirs. She can also zoom in and click to show the property’s characteristics. “They get really excited about the real time data,” she said.

As to the RVM and whether homeowners claim to have checked other national real estate websites to determine their home’s estimated value, Nicole explains the legitimacy of RPR’s RVM and how it supersedes all other models. “As the only REALTOR®-owned, automated valuation product, the RVM goes beyond the traditional AVM by incorporating listing and sales data from the MLS into the equation. It is a very credible automated tool for determining value.”

Preparation is Key

Nicole prepares for her open house by running RPR’s Mini Property, Neighborhood and School Reports. At open houses, she displays one copy of each report in a high traffic area. Then when guests pick one up, she responds with, “It’s great that you picked up that Property Report. Right now, it’s the only copy I have left but if you’ll give me your contact information, I’m happy to send you a personalized report.”

Here are Nicole’s top three picks for RPR reports used at open houses:

  • Mini-Property Report

    The Mini-Property Report highlights everything a potential client wants to know about the property without overwhelming them with data. What makes this buyer-friendly report so unique is that REALTORS can include their own personal notes and photos using any handheld or desktop device.

  • Neighborhood Report

    The Neighborhood Report provides an in-depth portrait of the people who live in an area, in addition to key indicators such as job growth, unemployment, cost of living, commute times and climate. The report also includes median list and sales prices, listing and sales volumes, and per square foot pricing on sold homes.

  • School Report

    The School Report summarizes student population, testing outcomes, parental reviews, ratings, and contact information about a public or private school—essential information for buyers with school-aged children.

A Hard Act to Follow

Nicole even has a proven follow-up system in place for collecting contact information at open houses. “I learned pretty quickly that people write like doctors when you ask them to write down their email addresses.” Instead, Nicole created a landing page off of her website that has a signup form for exactly that purpose.

“Whenever someone asks for more information, I point them to my iPad which is usually displayed in an open area. I ask them to complete the online form,” she said. “The form includes an open field to include their home address in case they are thinking of selling.” She adds, “And I make sure to impress upon our visitors that the form has a box to check, ‘Homes by email’ so I can send them new listings in the area they desire.”

That evening, Nicole starts to analyze the needs of clients that captured her attention at the open house. “I send them customized RPR reports to suit their interests, knowing I am giving them something of value but that RPR is doing all the work for me,” she said with a smile. “Sometimes I hear from them right away and we close on a deal. In another case, I didn’t hear from the client for six months.” Here’s the scenario:

“I was talking to a couple at an open house … the usual stuff. They asked for more information so I promptly got their contact information and sent them RPR Property and Neighborhood Reports. Although I periodically checked in with them, six months went by without a response.

Then, to my surprise, I received an email, ‘Dear Nicole, This is Mary. We met at an open house several months ago. At that time, you sent me a report with some really impressive information. That report, and your willingness to take the time to explain the information to us, made us remember you. I’m ready to buy a house. Please call me.”

Turns out, not only was Nicole’s newfound client ready to buy a house, she had already picked out the property she wanted to purchase. The client had been to another open house and loved the property. Yet, instead of employing the open house agent to foster the deal, the client went back to Nicole. When asked why, the client responded, “Of all the open houses my husband and I went to, you were the only one who took the time to get to know us and what we were looking for, and to explain the information to us.” Three days later, they signed on a home worth $675 thousand.

30 replies
  1. Jerry
    Jerry says:

    Nicole
    Great information, I am going to start using RPR more often. I have one problem, it is explaining
    all the charts with confidence. Is there a class or video webinar that help with this problem.
    I have to be confident if they ask to explain the charts>

    Reply
  2. Dan Surman
    Dan Surman says:

    Thanks for the article…just happen to come at a time when I did an open house yesterday on my listing and only 1 family showed up and reported back to my Seller and to his reply….surprised only 1 visitor showed up at our home” There are some great takeaways from this article. Thanks, Dan Surman, KW West Monmouth

    Reply
  3. Kyle Else
    Kyle Else says:

    Excellent point that RPR’s RVM is a credible report. RPR’s RVM allows a Realtor to deal with the randomness inherent in all data plus sync with trusted MLS sources for real time market insight.

    Reply
  4. Dan Nolan
    Dan Nolan says:

    I’m excited to hear about your open houses. I feel they’re the secret entrance to growing your business. Thank you so much for sharing!
    Dan Nolan

    Reply
  5. Daniel Thomas
    Daniel Thomas says:

    Great article. I’ve been using RPR, with ever growing confidence, for about two years now. The mobile app makes it all the easier! I actually just created a website, and am highlighting the information available through RPR on a primary page. Here is the website if you’d like to evaluate it, and/or take notes (ps…for SEO reasons, please don’t copy and paste the info…feel free to leverage the concepts, but not duplicate the actual verbiage…thx!) http://www.realtybydt.com

    Reply
    • Reggie from RPR
      Reggie from RPR says:

      Daniel, just visited your site and it looks very cool. Would you be up for connecting with us? It would be really valuable to buildout a case study around what you’re doing. Very creative…great work!

      Reply
      • Daniel Thomas
        Daniel Thomas says:

        Hi Reggie! Sorry for the extended delay; had no clue you responded to the post.

        What sort of information are you looking to gather for your case study? The website you saw was literally built, by me, in just a couple of days (using a wordpress template); and no — I’m not even close to being a “techy” type guy! Truthfully, most of it was up and running within a few hours, and then there were small additions here and there, some SEO tactics employed, etc. thereafter…

        This, however, was just a small dimension of my marketing plan. With all the marketing venues I leveraged, I (unfortunately) became too busy to maintain any sort of hands-on consistency within my marketing efforts. I guess this is a “good” problem to have, lol… I found that though the website is unique, and capable of unique content and manipulation — there are more efficient lead generation techniques for Realtors to employ. My hope now, is that I can continually add to the website (when I find time) and, eventually — establish credible internet presence outside the inherent leverage that exists when being affiliated with a well-known brokerage.

        With regards to RPR… Without a doubt, RPR is probably the most efficient tool I’ve had at my disposal for translating industry jargon into numbers and metrics that can be understood by my clients; especially sellers! You guys have found a way to merge collections of relevant data, and put it at our fingertips! And for that, I thank you!

        For awhile, I tried to balance a few additional resources to provide a unique montage of relevant information, but as time went on (goes on) – I’ve realized that RPR has everything I need to make a great impression. I do use a different platform to print CMA type material, but almost EVERYTHING I do relative to comparative evaluations, when educating my clients, originates somehow/someway in RPR. I find that it parallels my own interpretation of “value” more often than not, and provides additional valuable information without having to scrub multiple (other) sources.

        Oddly enough, I’ve also found myself explaining (to multiple agents) the value in RPR. Sometimes I feel that withholding my knowledge of RPR would better suit my bottom line (by separating myself from the competition), but I always revert back to my original altruistic character, and disclose everything! lol..

        In any case, RPR is — BY FAR — one of my favorite resources in the real estate industry. The abundant information makes it a necessary tool, and the the ease of use makes it a no-brainer!

        Let me know if you have specific questions, and I’ll do my best to provide transparent answers…

        By the way, thanks for the compliment!

        Daniel

        Reply
      • Daniel Thomas
        Daniel Thomas says:

        Hi Kate! Sorry for the delayed response.. And thanks for the compliment!

        Your question is too loaded to provide any sort of definitive/specific answers. My advice would be to move forward with the following four steps, then – if you have specific questions thereafter — throw them my way! No guarantees I’ll have answers, but I’m willing to try!

        1) Take a down & dirty SEO course. Moz is a great starting point, and it’s free! Google “moz seo,” and you’ll soon find yourself knees deep in plenty of SEO alternatives (if moz doesn’t suit you).

        2) Learn by doing. Meaning, venture on over to Godaddy, Bluehost, or some other web-hosting platform, and sign up for a domain name, and a hosting package. If you’re already confused, just visit godaddy.com, type (into the applicable box) a website name you think you’d want, and then follow their prompts. The best way to learn is by doing…, so dive in!

        3) Within your host’s customer interface, you’ll find a link to wordpress.org (don’t use wordpress.com for what you want; your SEO lessons will inform you of the reasons). You’re also going to see a bunch of confusing stuff/links/tools, lol… Don’t fret, they (still) confuse me too! Anyways… click the link provided (for wordpress.org), and go to work! WordPress has thousands of cool free templates (such as the one I used), and then even better paid options. Explore!

        4) Use your competition’s websites to stimulate ideas for your own site. Do not copy their content (not just cuz it’s unethical, but also cuz google will destroy any effort you’ve put in), but analyze those who are successful, and draw your own conclusions as to why they’re successful. Nobody has all the “right” answers, and even when they do — there are additional alternative “right” answers as well. Find things to employ, find things to improve, and find things to avoid altogether.

        Your SEO education (step 1 above) is probably the most important step you can possibly take in venturing down this path. Most of your website building questions will be answered there, and you’ll find that (your) questions thereafter will most often be easily managed through self-thought and/or quick/easy research. SEO is constantly changing (for a multitude of reasons), but you don’t have to be an “expert” to jump in the game and have fun. What “works” today, may, or may not, work tomorrow. Common sense also has the natural tendency to take you far, so when in doubt — do what your gut/intuition tells you to do…

        And — MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL — you CANNOT be afraid to make mistakes; regardless of what dimension of life we’re talking about. Mistakes are not “evil,” rather, you should think of them as a valuable education. If you lose a few hundred dollars messing up your first site, or two (or three!), that money should be regarded as an investment into learning what not to do going forward. It wasn’t a “waste,” it was merely a paid-for education… And the more “not-to-do’s” we eliminate from our repertoire (by avoiding repeated mistakes), the more room we have for positive improvements going forward.

        I appreciate your compliment on the website (www.realtybydt.com), but beleive me — it was very easy to get it that far; and I’m nowhere close to being a tech savvy dude. This website (www.dts2cents.com) was my “first” experimentation with building a website. I’ve kinda’ let it sit, lonely and desperate for attention, for a few years now; but one day I might just re-visit the idea and leverage it for end goals.

        In any case, probably a long answer that provided no value to your question, but I gave it my best shot!

        Let me know when/if you have additional questions going forward. If you can’t reach me here, feel free to email me on one of the sites. If I don’t get back to you, try a different email (you probably went to the spam box!).

        Good luck!

        Daniel

        Reply
  6. Susan Vega
    Susan Vega says:

    I’ve been using Cloud CMA for property reports, how does RPR compare? Also, I too would like to know what app was used for the open house. I use Open Home Pro and not a big fan. Thank you in advance.

    Reply
  7. Susan Krisulevicz
    Susan Krisulevicz says:

    Great information – thanks for sharing! I have an Open House this Sunday and plan to incorporate these tips.

    Reply
  8. Kristina
    Kristina says:

    Our team uses a written sign in sheet, at our last open house only 1 person out of 30 groups did not sign in… I think obtaining solid leads is doable even without technology, but reading handwriting can be a pain. However, to capture electronically we are testing AppSheet. I used Appsheet to take a google form and create a live link I can text to prospects (we call it our ‘green’ option) they can then sign in on their phone. The data feeds to the google doc and then to our CRM, but the contacts also go to the back end of AppSheet so that team members can immediately contact those prospects straight from the app. It’s a work in progress, but would love to hear how others are capturing electronic contact info without the use of a tablet at the open house.

    Reply
  9. Sepie Zandi
    Sepie Zandi says:

    Hi Nicole,
    I am a new agent, I do a lot of open house but not many leads unfortunately and love your ideas and thank you for sharing it would be great if I could get the training how to do all that if you could tell me where I can get the training that would be wonderful, very much appreciated.

    Reply
    • Reggie from RPR
      Reggie from RPR says:

      Hi Sepie – We have created a few training resources that will help you along the way. First, we introduced an on-demand course on using RPR at a open house found here: http://blog.narrpr.com/video-learning/open-house/

      Also in the next few weeks we’ll be releasing a series of eBooks, and one of them is dedicated to the topic of open houses. We will share that here once it’s live and ready to go.

      Reply
  10. Michele Irizarry
    Michele Irizarry says:

    Will RPR consider adding an RVM landing page for potential sellers? This is a hot tool many agents are using to capture seller leads and I think RPR’s accuracy will help to being more attention to this awesome site and hopefully drive traffic away from Zillow.

    Reply

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