Visiting an open home is like going on a date you don’t really enjoy.
You give your number to the agent because they asked politely and you don’t want to be rude. But deep down inside you don’t really want them to call you back because you don’t want to have an awkward conversation trying to explain why you don’t like the home they are trying to sell.
But when they don’t call, that’s even worse! Why didn’t they ring? Did they think you weren’t serious? Did they think you didn’t have enough money?
Was it because you went to the open home wearing track pants and flip-flops?
Welcome to the murky world of open home follow-up etiquette.
Why that real estate agent never called you back…
Reason 1. They ran out of time.
Busy salespeople can meet 100+ buyers in one weekend of doing open homes. That’s 100 follow up calls to make on Monday / Tuesday.
I have met a few hard-working agents who would diligently work through everyone in that situation but it’s not very common. Most agents will get busy writing up offers and working with the motivated buyers on Monday or Tuesday and will simply run out of time to call you back.
Salespeople in this situation often have to focus on following up the buyers who showed the most interest at the open home, which may only be 10% of the total number of visitors.
Reason 2. They thought you weren’t interested.
There are salespeople out there who don’t want to waste your time. They will follow up if they felt you showed interest or you genuinely connected at the open home. But if you walked in and out of the property in 30 seconds and were reluctant to put down your details, then there is a chance that the salesperson will get the hint and give you some space.
Reason 3. The tables have turned. Buyers are chasing them.
The hotter the market, the less likely it is for the salesperson to call you back after an open home.
The keenest buyers are calling the agent directly straight after the open home to make an offer. If you aren’t showing that same level of enthusiasm, then there is a decent chance the salesperson won’t bother keeping you informed.
What should you expect when you attend an open home?
- You should expect a phone call within 24-48 hours of visiting. One of the key reasons a salesperson should call you is to gather feedback for the owner of the property. Please be frank with the salesperson and tell them what you really think. If you didn’t like the property, tell them why.You won’t hurt the agent’s feelings in any way. In fact, you are actually helping the owner by passing this information on. If it’s something they can change, like an off-putting smell or mouldy curtains, then you are helping them get their home sold.
- You should expect a thank-you email with links to further info. A minimum standard of service from any salesperson should be a follow-up email to every open home visitor saying ‘thank you for visiting’ and advising where you can obtain more information about that property.
- You should expect to be notified when an offer is made. When salespeople secure an offer on a property, they should (ideally) let every past visitor know. This way, if another buyer wants to make an offer, they have the opportunity to do so. This is an important part of their duty to work in the best interests for the seller.
- Ideally, you should expect a text message for important updates. This could be to advise when offers will be presented to the owner, when a LIM becomes available, or advise what a property has sold for. It’s crazy how many agents don’t use text messages to keep buyers informed. Many people can’t answer phone calls at work (especially from real estate salespeople). Meanwhile, text messages have a near 100% open rate, making them a highly efficient form of contact.
When things go wrong…
Sadly, there are salespeople out there who are incapable of picking up on human body language or just won’t take no for an answer.
If you visit an open home and experience any sort of behaviour that makes you feel pestered, annoyed or unsafe in any way, please contact the manager of the office marketing that property, or get in touch with the head office of the real estate company involved and let them know what has happened.
If you don’t receive a positive response, you can also contact the Real Estate Authority.
Open homes are an un-supervised shop front and real estate office managers need to know if their salespeople are acting inappropriately.
How to approach open homes and follow up calls.
- Be polite until you have a reason not to be.
Buyers often walk into an open home with a negative mindset, thinking they need to be wary of the agent. This could be due to a previous negative experience with real estate agents. Please try not to be like this.
Most agents are good people just trying to get the job done. Please give each new one you meet a chance. Put your details down when requested (it’s important for the security of the owner).
- Don’t be offended if the salesperson doesn’t call you back.But do tell them if you are interested in the property, ideally before you leave the open home or soon after. That way the agent can keep you informed through the sale process.
- Tell the agent if you don’t want to be called.Before you leave the open home, you can mention to the agent, ‘please don’t worry about calling me, this home doesn’t suit us’. The vast majority of agents will honour your wishes and be respectful.
- Be honest with your feedback.Don’t sugar coat your thoughts to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. If you thought the home was cold and weird, then please say so. Don’t be overly negative, just a quick statement of your feelings is enough to give the agent something to pass on to their owner.
- Take a guess on price. Agents will often ask you what you think a home should sell for. This might be a frustrating question if you are a buyer, but what the agent is trying to do is understand where buyers feel the value of the property sits, so that they can educate their owner.This is an important part of the process. If you are up for it, give the value a guess, don’t worry about being too low or too high, it’s just a data point to help the owner be realistic with their expectations.
You might worry that the agent is just fishing to find out how much money you have to spend, but in my experience, that’s just not the case. They simply want to ensure their current listing is positioned at the right level.