Case Study: Debbie Secures 7 Transactions Giving Her Books Away At Open Houses
Are you a new agent? Would you like to get more listings and buyer sales? Let's take a look at one of our Authorify members, Debbie. She has an excellent Open House Strategy that a new agent could use to get more listings and buyer sales.
- Books Given Away: 60.
- Listings earned with the help of the books: 4 Listings and 3 Buyers.
- Biggest benefit of using the books: “With the book, there is something very concrete that they can hold in their hand. My picture is looking at them every day. Even if they lay the book down on a table or something, my picture is looking at them. I have never known anyone to throw my books away. I’ve noticed that when I list a house, the sellers have put my book in a drawer. It hasn't been thrown away. They've kept it.
DEBBIE’S SUCCESS WITH THE BOOKS
Success Story #1
“At one of the open houses, I had a family come through, and I gave them one of my books about the secrets of wealthy home sellers. They are buying a $595,000 home that is closing on August 3rd. And I will be listing their home for probably about $400,000 to $425,000. Basically, that all came from giving them my books at my Open House.”
Success Story #2
“I got a listing for $320,000 from one of my open houses. We just got an accepted offer on it.”
Success Story #3
“I had another young couple come into this last open house. They have a home to sell, and they want to buy a move-up home, so I am setting a listing appointment with them, as well. They are looking to buy around $320,000 to $350,000, and their house will be around the mid-$200s.”
Success Story #4
I’ve been handing out some of my books at other open houses and actually have one more listing for $275,000.”
Success Story #5. “I have a couple who have their home listed in Fort Lauderdale. They’re moving here. I met them at a $320,000 open house. They are buying with me because I handed them one of my buyer books. They are going to be purchasing with me as soon as they have an accepted offer on their home in Fort Lauderdale.”
HERE’S HOW DEBBIE GOT 7 TRANSACTIONS
BY GIVING AWAY HER BOOKS AT OPEN HOUSES:
She hosts 1 open house every weekend — either on Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
#2. She promotes the open house using 8-10 signs and a Facebook promoted post.
I think she has found a happy medium between “too few” and “too many” signs. I’ve heard of agents using 50-100 signs to promote their open houses. But, they often get complaints about the signs. Debbie said she hasn’t had any issues with sign complaints. I think it's because she only uses 8-10 signs.
#3. She makes visitors feel comfortable and starts conversations with them.
Here's how she does that:
- She asks visitors if they’re looking to buy or sell, then gives them the correct book based on their response.
- She works to make visitors feel extremely comfortable.
- She makes sure the visitors don’t feel any pressure. How? By letting them know she won’t try to sell them and pressure them.
- She works to be aware of the different personality types. She talks about the DISC Profile and making sure she identifies the visitor’s personality type as soon as he or she walks in the front door.
In her own words:
“You have to make visitors feel extremely comfortable when they come in. You just have to make them feel very much at home and non-pressured.
We always tell people that we are not real estate salespeople. We are real estate consultants. What can we do to help you? It's amazing how people will open up and begin talking to you once they feel at ease.
You have to make them feel like you're not pushing this particular house on them — that you're ready to answer whatever questions they have about this house — that you really are interested in them them, and what are their needs and what are they looking for. It's just the comfort level. You must make them feel comfortable.”
#4. She holds the home open from 1PM to 4PM.
In her own words:
“I generally hold my open houses from 1 to 4, which is a longer timeframe than most other Realtors do. They don't start coming in immediately at 1 o'clock. By about 2:30, people start coming in, and then it just gets super busy between 2 or 2:30 and 4 o'clock.”
Here is a transcript of the interview with Ben Curry and Debbie.
Debbie: I used the book to get an expired listing, and we have an accepted offer on that for $550,000. But at one of the open houses, I had a family come through, and I gave them one of the books about the secrets of wealthy home sellers. They wanted me to help them purchase a home.
I also gave them one of the books that I had of finding your dream home, so I have now, with that couple, I have an accepted offer on a $600,000 home and, as soon as we close on that August 3rd, I will be listing their home for probably about $400,000, and that all came from ... Basically, that all came from one book.
Ben: You've gotten more business out of that original customer, you're saying?
Debbie: The original expired book that I handed to my first listing, just handed them the packet and talked to them for about an hour and a half that day and got his home listed for him. That has been very successful.
I've been handing out some of my books at other open houses, as well, and actually have gotten two more listings from not quite that high a price range, but they are in the 200 and 300 thousand range.
Ben: These were maybe neighbors that visited an open house?
Debbie: They were just people walking in, looking at the house itself, but you find out that they have a house that they need to sell, as well, and I hand them a book.
Plus, this last open house I did, I had two buyers come in who are about a year out, but they both are going to be moving in from out of state, gave them two books that they absolutely loved and got their contact information, and they're going to be contacting me when they're ready to move into the state. The books are doing some amazing things. They really are. They're setting me apart.
Ben: How many books do you think you've given away so far?
Debbie: Probably, ... You know, I haven't given that many books away because they've been so productive. Probably, ... Well, the first grouping I sent out for the expireds, I sent out, I believe, 30 books.
I did 30 packets of books, got that one listing, which was, I mean, absolutely paid for all 30 of those books. Since then, I have been handing them out personally at open houses and just meeting people in general, so probably another 30 books.
Ben: You got that first listing. What other business have you gotten from the books besides that one first listing?
Debbie: The second buyer, I may have the listing of their home. I got a listing of a $320,000 home that we just have an accepted offer on it. Let me think. We've got another one that is ... Most of them have ended up being high end listings or sales.
A listing book has also brought me buyers, which I find really interesting. Not only do I get their listings, but then they're so impressed with the book that they want me to help them buy their next house, too, without even necessarily having to give them a buyer's book.
Ben: The sellers, they're listing the house with you, but they also want to buy a house with you because of that credibility.
Debbie: Yes, absolutely.
Ben: You got one expired, I think it was like 560 or 570. You have a $320,000 listing. Where did that come from, from one of your open houses?
Debbie: Yes, that came from one of the open houses, plus the $595,000 purchase came from the open house from that expired listing and the listing of their house, which I will list probably about $400,000 the beginning of August from that one book.
Ben: You're at an open house, you're giving away your book, someone comes in, and this person buys a house with you for 595?
Debbie: No, buys a different house. They didn't buy my listing, but they bought another house with me, and I am listing their house. They wanted to purchase first and move out and then put their house on the market, but I will definitely have their listing, as well.
Ben: Are you already under contract for a $595,000 house?
Debbie: Yes, we're closing on August 3rd. Their current home, we're going to be listing it anywhere from 400 to 425.
Ben: The open houses are really working well for you. What's your open house strategy? You just talk to them or have the books.
Debbie: It all comes down to people knowing that, number one, you are listening to them at open houses. It's more than just walking them through this house. I begin asking many, many questions about what they're looking for, what are they needing and, in that process, then I'm handing them the books, whatever book fits.
I take several of my books. I think I have six or seven of your books, different titles, and depending on their answers to the questions I ask as to what book I hand them. It has been very effective.
Ben: You got the one expired listing. I don't remember the price. You got a buyer from an open house. They're buying a house, then you got a $320,000 listing. What other business have you gotten from the books besides those people?
Debbie: I have a couple who actually have their home listed in Fort Lauderdale because they're moving here and that came from a book at this same open house. The $320,000 house. They are buying with me because I handed them one of my buyer books.
They are going to be purchasing with me as soon as they have an accepted offer on their home in Fort Lauderdale. They will be also ... We already have a house picked out here. As soon as they get an offer, they'll be writing an offer on the house up here.
That came from the open house. They're going to be buying a home anywhere from $280,000 up to $350,000, so that has come from handing them a book at an open house, as well. That's one more.
Ben: How often do you do open houses?
Debbie: I will do an open house on my listings almost every weekend, either a Saturday afternoon or a Sunday afternoon.
Ben: Do you currently do about one open house per week currently?
Ben: You're just doing one open house every weekend, either on Saturday or Sunday?
Ben: Do you give out refreshments or just have an open house?
Debbie: We tried to do refreshments, and they really aren't that effective. When people are coming in, many times, it's 2:30 or 3 o'clock before the people come in. I generally hold my open houses from 1 to 4, which is a longer timeframe than most other realtors do. They don't start coming in immediately at 1 o'clock. By about 2:30, people start coming in, and then it just gets super busy between 2 or 2:30 and 4 o'clock.
Ben: Do you do a lot of signs or just one or two signs?
Debbie: No, we do a lot of signs.
Ben: How many signs do you do?
Debbie: I need to ask my husband that. He's always my sign sitter. We will do signs into every entrance that comes into that particular community.
Ben: So, you do five to ten signs.
Debbie: Yeah, eight to ten signs my husband just said to me. We will put out eight to ten signs just to make sure that it's very clear how to get to the house.
Ben: I know when I've tried the mega open houses and the sign Nazis shut me down. Do you have sign Nazis there?
Debbie: Not so much. It depends on the community. Some of the really upper end communities will not let you put a sign in the yard at all. You have to put something in the window or something like that.
Ben: Oh, my gosh!
Debbie: Or you have to have a specific ... They tell you you must have a specific design of sign, so you actually have to ... Everyone has to have the exact same type of realtor sign in a certain type of frame so that it blends in with the looks of the community.
Ben: You do open houses, it sounds like, that don't result in any business, and you do some that do result in business. It's just rolling the dice.
Debbie: Yeah, you always take that chance, but I'll tell you what. We have come up with far more business than not business. I used to not do open houses because it seems like Nobody would even walk in the door. But public opinion of open houses has changed. Now, in the last year or so, when we do open houses, there are always people there.
Ben: What do you mean by public opinion has changed? Tell me a little bit more.
Debbie: I would say maybe seven to ten years ago ... I actually started my real estate business I Colorado in the Denver area, and we would have open houses there, and there wouldn't be a single person show up. People just were not interested. At that time, you didn't have as many photos.
There weren't as many public places for people to look at homes as there are now, whereas lately, because they can go anywhere on the internet and find pictures, and if you do a very good job of taking the photos, and my husband is a professional photographer, as well, so we always make sure our photos are great.
They look at the photos, and they are very curious to see more about the house, so we are generating far more traffic. Your description in the MLS must be very good drawing people in, and then we also put ads out on Facebook for open houses. Actually, when we boost the Facebook ads, this last open house I just did this last weekend, had a young couple come in.
We actually have individual cards for people to fill out. We discovered when you do a regular signup sheet, people will not fill that out because they don't want other people to see their public information.
They don't want people to see their ... We designed individual little cards for them to sign up, and we assure them that we take those and they are private, we put them aside so that no one else can see their information.
I had another young couple came into this last open house, and I forgot to tell you about them. They have a home to sell, and they want to buy and move up home, so I am setting a listing appointment with them, as well.
Debbie: That's another one just from a book. We handed them a book as well, a selling book.
Ben: What price range are they buying.
Debbie: The house that I had listed was 320, and they came in to look at the house and were well aware of the price of that house because of the flyer I gave them at the open house and didn't shirk at the price range at all.
Ben: What price range do you think they're going to be selling their house at?
Debbie: I don't know that yet. I've got to set up the listing appointment with them. It's in the same city. It's in a community where it's a little higher price, mid 200s or higher. They'll be in that price range for selling their home, as well.
Ben: Excellent. Your thing is, you have eight to ten signs. You're not doing 50 signs. You're doing eight to ten signs. Do you put them out the same day and take them down the same day?
Debbie: We take them down the same day. We try to put them up either very early in the morning of the day of the showing or the day before. There are city ordinances that, a lot of times, if you put your signs up a couple of days before, you come back and they're gone. The city has come and picked them up, so we have to be careful about that.
If you put them up early in the morning of the same day, generally speaking, they don't bother you, especially since it's a weekend. If you put them up during the week, then all the city guys are out and they see them and pull them back up again but, if you put them out early on the Saturday morning, then they're usually not working and they won't take the signs.
Ben: That makes sense. The key is, you're doing open houses regularly. You do eight to ten signs, not crazy, but enough. I think you found the right Goldilocks number of signs where you're not angering the neighborhood where the sign Nazis get you, but it's also enough to get people there. What do you do to get people to talk to you when they come in the door? Do you have a script or what do you say?
Debbie: No, you just have to make them feel extremely comfortable to come in. My husband and I generally do them together so that, if we have multiple people in the home at one time, we can both be gathering with people and working with them. We don't lose anybody. You just have to make them feel very much at home and non-pressured.
We always tell people that we are not real estate salespeople. We are real estate consultants. What can we do to help you?
Once they feel at ease and feel like you're not pushing this particular house on them, you're ready to answer whatever questions they have about this house, but you really are interested in them themselves, what are their needs and what are they looking for, even if it isn't that house, it's amazing how people will open up and begin talking to you.
It's just the comfort level. You must make them feel comfortable.
Ben: It's also like people have their guard up when they visit an open house or they go to a car dealership.
Ben: If you can take that pressure, because you know it's a game. If I go to a car dealership, my perception, and it may not even be correct, is they're going to try to strong-arm me into buying a car whereas, if they can take away that pressure, I may be a lot more comfortable and a lot more willing to talk to them.
Debbie: You can just see people's guards coming down. You can see their body language relaxing. I am always a great observer of body language, and you have to know the different personality types. I don't know if you're aware of the DISC personality assessment type of thing, but you must be aware of personality types and what types of things push their buttons.
Some people just want the facts, so you have to be ready to give them the facts. You must be very knowledgeable about what you're doing, so I find it difficult to hold open houses for other agents in my office for their listings because I don't know their house that well.
That's why I always try to do all of my own listing open houses rather than having someone else do the open house for me because I'm the expert on that house. I can make the people feel comfortable, and I can tell them what they need to know about the house.
Ben: Do you get a lot of your business from open houses?
Debbie: Yes, a pretty strong amount of business comes from our open houses, although we do a lot with referral business, as well. We have clients who are referring other people to us or coming back to us again. It's a combination of things. I do some prospecting, again, especially with the expireds. I like to prospect the high end expireds. That seems to be pretty effective for us.
Ben: How come?
Debbie: Usually, those people, I've heard a lot of them say to me, "There are so many realtors who come into our price range, and they're so arrogant. You don't even want to work with them because they make you feel like they're the gift to you type thing."
Again, you have to go in with a servant mentality, especially with the high end, and just say, "How can I serve you? What do you need? How can I help you?"
With the high end people, you have to be able to speak their language. You don't say things like, "Well, I have comps for you." You say, "Here are the relevant properties to your home." They want to know what the hammer price is. In other words, what's the selling price of this other home that sold in my neighborhood?
They use the term, "What's the hammer price?" Okay, you have to know what they mean by that. You have to be honest with them. They can sense ... Trust me. They've worked with so many salespeople in their lives and dealt with so many people to get to the position where they're at that they can smell out someone who is not truly honest.
Ben: That's true. What else do you do ... It sounds like you're getting a lot of business from the open houses, and I've asked you about how that works. What else ... Let's go back to the expireds. You say you like to do the upper end expireds.
I also have noticed there are more expireds in the higher price ranges because they expire more. It just is what it is. What do you do besides just give them the book? What is your strategy to list high end expireds.
Debbie: I have taken your listing packets, and I've customized them somewhat to this area and also to what I feel I can do. I don't necessarily feel I can do everything that you have on your listing presentations.
But, I definitely have customized them, and they seem to be very effective. With the high end listings again, it's this whole thing of they want to know what you can do for them. What are your capabilities to really promote my particular listing?
Ben: Have you listed many high end expireds with our books besides the one for 569 or something like that?
Debbie: I have ... Let me think back. It's been a year or so ago. I had two other high end listings. One was 695, the other was 725. Again, it was just that whole thing of handing them the packet. I'll tell you what I do need to start doing because I have not set up where you can get people's phone numbers.
I actually have to kind of go back and knock on their door again, whereas this would be much more effective.
I need to set that system up that you guys have where I actually can get their numbers and call them rather than having to go back and knock on the door a second time.
Note. The site that Debbie is referencing on the call is The Redx. They will provide you with Expired Listing & For-Sale-by-Owner Leads with phone numbers. They have access to some cell phone numbers and will provide them to you.
A lot of those high end listings with the expireds come back as secondary referrals, so it isn't always from each individual book. It is from a book that then they talked to one of their friends, and I get a referral from one of their friends.
It's kind of a combination of things, but I do need to get the system set up to be able to grab phone numbers and call them back.
Ben: With the high end expireds, you drop off the book with all the other stuff. We call it the wow pack. It's just a bunch of stuff, what I do when marketings end, blah-blah-blah.
Ben: Some people do more than we do, some people do less. You've modified it so it works for you. Do you always try to knock on the door and actually talk to the person?
Debbie: Yes. Sometimes, I have less packages, but it is far more effective if I can actually talk to them.
Ben: What do you say when you talk to them?
Debbie: Usually, I'll say, "I noticed that you had your home on the market and it did not sell for you, and it expired. I have a book here that I've specifically written for people in your situation and would love to give this book to you and give you a chance to read through it.
Also, this packet contains all the things that I can do to help sell your home more effectively." Again, depending on where the conversation leads as to what other information I can give them.
I feel like I need to always approach them, again, not as high pressure, but as, "I have a service here for you. I've actually written a book that will help you understand how to sell your home better." That part seems to be effective.
Ben: High pressure, I mean, some people use it. I'm not saying it does or does not work but, if that's not you and you're not a natural at it, it's not the best way to go.
Debbie: I know I'm not a natural at high pressure. It doesn't work for me.
Ben: That is good. Just talking to them, getting them to talk, and then showing them what you can do. Once you give them the book, you talk about what you can do to help them sell their house.
Debbie: Right, exactly.
Ben: What are some of the things that you do that maybe come to mind?
Debbie: One of the things that is really good is that my company actually was started as an internet company from the very beginning, so I really can show them how, because of the company, we can promote their listing on hundreds of public sites, even obscure sites that people look at that I had never even heard of before.
I've had buyers say, "Oh, yeah, I looked this up on such-and-such." To myself, I'm thinking, "I didn't even know that website existed." Our company is very good about promoting all of those sites. It's exposure again. They need to know that you're putting them out there everywhere, not just the MLS, that anybody and everybody can have a chance to look at them.
Ben: Interesting. That's cool. Let me see. I think I have a couple more questions. Have you used the books at all on listing presentations where maybe you've got the presentation from referral or the appointment from something different besides the books?
Debbie: Yes. I have used actually going on listing presentations and handed it to them at the listing presentation, yes.
Ben: How has that worked out?
Debbie: I didn't really have a chance to meet them too much before that. Everyone is impressed. They look at the books, and they say to me, "Did you really write this?" I said, "Yeah, I'm the author. My picture's on the front. I've taken the time to write six or seven books," and they're just going, "Wow!" Everybody's jaw drops so, yes, just being able to hand it to them, it has a big impact.
Ben: You probably are familiar enough with it, nobody's like, "You didn't really write it." That's never been an issue for you.
Debbie: No, it hasn't, because I talk to them as an authority, so they have no reason to question me. I'm just very factual. "Yes, I've written these books."
Ben: It works.
Debbie: "Here you go, and this will give you hints on what to do to get your house ready to sell."
Ben: I think that works. You just got to be confident in it.
Debbie: Yes, you do.
Ben: What do you feel is the biggest benefit of using the books?
Debbie: There is something very concrete that they can hold in their hand. It's not like just paperwork that they can toss away. Even the listing presentation, you don't always know if they hang onto that listing presentation or maybe even read through it but, with the book, there's something that my picture is looking at them every day.
Even if they lay the book down on a table or something, my picture is looking at them, and I have never known anyone to throw my books away. A number of the listings I've gotten, I've noticed that they've kind of put my book in the drawer or something after they've gotten the listing, but it hasn't been thrown away. They've kept it.
Ben: We've seen that happen before. Interesting. It's something tangible. A lot of real estate, what we do is intangible, but the book is something tangible.
Debbie: Exactly. It's proof.
Ben: What do you feel has been the biggest breakthrough you've gotten in your business from using the books?
Debbie: Probably an extra level of confidence for me is one of the biggest breakthroughs, an extra level of confidence in knowing what I know and showing people what I know. I don't have to go and flaunt this book. I don't have to be a salesman for the book.
I just hand it to them and say, "Here's a book that I've written that is really going to help you." I just have to say that very factually, and that's all I have to do. It sells itself, you know, so thank you. I really appreciate these books.
Ben: It's good to hear. I got one more question, then I'll let you go. What would you say to an agent, maybe a newer agent, who's just really struggling to get listings, maybe get their first listing? It seems like nothing's working. They're not getting any traction. What would you recommend for them to do?
Debbie: If they have the books already, I would say, "Make sure you read through these books. Make sure you know what the content is so that, when you hand them out, people know that you know what you're talking about." I've read some of the other interviews where people said, "Oh, I got these books" and immediately just started handing them out.
Here's what I did. When I first got your first grouping of books, I sat down and I read through every one of them. I knew those books inside and out because it was my reputation. I wanted to make sure that these books were up to the level that I needed them to be for me.
If there are new agents who are ... It's always a struggle when you're a new agent. Hopefully, those agents are working with companies that actually will give them leads. My company's very good about providing leads for our new agents.
If they aren't, then they need to understand what's in those books plus, if they are new agents, have them hold open houses for other people in the company.
Ben: Hold open houses.
Debbie: Again, open houses are not necessarily for selling the house that's there. They're for getting leads. If they get buyer leads from them, then that's the place to start their business.
Ben: Basically, I would recommend copy what you're doing with open houses. It sounds like you have a good system.
Debbie: Yeah, it seems to work very well. It's something we've had to develop over the years because, trust me, there've been a lot of open houses in the past that I was just beating my head against the wall and thinking, "This is just not working at all. It's not effective."
We had to go through what we're doing and reinvent a lot of things. So much of what we do is, we're learning from the responses we get from people when we talk to them. It's the whole thing of listening more than talking and asking questions rather than making statements.
Just continue to be asking people questions so that they know that you are listening to them and they're more important than you are. That's another big thing. Make your clients feel like they are far more important than you are.
Ben: Don't just talk and pitch, "I'm so great" and stuff.
Debbie: Right, exactly.
Ben: It's all common sense but, unfortunately, not everybody follows it.
Debbie: Well, and not every real estate company teaches their people that way. Some real estate companies teach them that they have to be hard-sell people. I worked for the traditional companies. I understand their mindsets. I've also owned two real estate companies of my own and, now it's a whole new paradigm. I've learned since 2004, I've learned.
Ben: I think I've got all my questions answered, learned a lot talking to you. Is there anything else you wanted to add or maybe any questions you had for me?
Debbie: No, just if you can send me the link to the site where I can find the phone numbers, that would be marvelous.
Note. The site that Debbie is referencing on the call is The Redx. They will provide you with Expired Listing & For-Sale-by-Owner Leads with phone numbers. They have access to some cell phone numbers and will provide them to you.