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 Compass Real Estate, Livermore, 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
Nicole 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:
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.