How Buyer Agents Can Build Trust, Overcome Fear at Open Houses

By Tips & Strategies

One of the top objections I hear from agents about doing open houses is that they think guests are only interested in meeting with the listing agent, so if they don’t have a listing, they think they’re wasting their time doing an open house “just to try to find buyers.” This line of thinking is founded in fear—fear that you lack credibility as an agent if you’re not the listing agent.

It is my belief, which I’ve formed after doing more than one hundred open houses myself, that agents are in a better position if they are NOT the listing agent at the open house. Buyers tend to be guarded if they know the other person is trying to “sell them” on the home. So if the goal is get a buyer to fall in love with your listing at an open house, then why would you put their defenses up? Think of it this way: do you let your sellers be present for showings? No! We know that buyers tour homes faster when a seller is nearby and they don’t feel comfortable enough to see themselves living in the home. When this happens, the likelihood of an offer is slimmer. In that same vein, a non-listing agent should be the one to host the open house so that buyers can let down their defenses and have a fair chance at falling in love with the home, as well as feel like the agent present is more on their side rather than on the sellers’ side.

Yes, there are those people who think they want to forgo a buyer’s agent and go at it alone, but that shouldn’t stop a non-listing agent from holding the open house (nor is it a valid reason why listing agents are better suited for the open). I’ll go into this some more below.

So, what are some strategies and scripts you can use to help you feel more confident as a (hopeful) buyers’ agent at your open houses?

First, when you introduce yourself to the guests, let them know your role right up front.

You: “Hi, I’m Shannon with Sky Realty.” (PAUSE and wait for their answer, still shaking their hands if not too lingeringly awkward).

Them: (filling in the awkward silence): “I’m Sally, and this is my husband, Jeff.”

You: “So nice to meet you, Sally and Jeff! Please, make yourself at home and let me know if you have any questions. I’m not the listing agent, so you can ask me anything about the home and I won’t hold it against you!”

Now, their guards are down and you’re building trust with them. You’re not on the “other side” hoping to sell them, and you’ve presented yourself as someone who genuinely wants to help.

Here are the questions I hear agents are mortified of hearing at the open house and how you can overcome your fear of them:

• “So, if you’re not the listing agent, how can you help us?”
This is the perfect segue into telling them all the benefits of being a buyers’ agent, including being able to write up a contract on the spot since the listing agent only represents the seller and you’re fully able to represent their needs and goals.

• “Oh, this isn’t your listing? Do you have experience working with sellers?”
This may come from a homeowner who’s scouting open houses for a listing agent. They want to see who is working the area diligently and presenting homes in the best manner. Your best response is, “The listing agent put me in charge of the open house because he/she knows I’m one of the best at what I do. I market the open house tirelessly in order to ensure good traffic, just as I would on one of my own listings. We don’t believe in holding our own listings open, because that approach can scare buyers away, and we find that this is a more effective strategy for selling homes. I’d love to sit with you sometime this week to show you my full marketing plan for each of the homes I list. Are you available Tuesday or Friday?”

• “Oh, we were really hoping to talk to a listing agent. We don’t want a buyers’ agent.”
Your response: “The listing agent knows they can only represent their sellers and can’t represent the buyer for this home, too—that’s why they have me host the open house. As a matter of fact, when the listing agent signed the agreement with the sellers, they decided on a set commission, of which the listing agent is happy to share with me if I bring them a buyer. He/she knows the mountain of duties that a buyers’ agent performs, and they’d rather pay me than have a transaction fall apart because I wasn’t there to help. Plus, no buyer should ever buy a home without an in-depth Comparative Market Analysis, something I do as a part of my buyers’ agent services.”

Now that you’ve shown them the value of using you as their agent, you can secure their trust by showing them that you aren’t focused on the sale of this one home. Ask them, “Do you think this could be the home for you, or do you think you’d like to see some other homes before making a decision?” You can offer to email them more properties or take them on a tour of more homes throughout the week. If you sense that these guests are scouting for a listing agent, you can even joke, “Of course, if this were my listing, I wouldn’t want you to go anywhere else!” Now that they realize you have their best interests in mind, they’re warmer to the relationship with you as their buyers’ agent and as their listing agent.

And, do make sure you have the mindset to also meet potential seller-clients at your open houses. By putting together a well-organized and highly-marketed open house, they’ll see that you’re a stellar agent worthy of their business, and they won’t care whose name is on the For Sale sign outside. You can also let them know they’d have an advantage working with you—someone who doesn’t also have their competition listed and can apply more of your efforts into selling their home.

To learn more open house strategies and marketing tips, check out my book, Your Key to Open House Success.

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