By Ross Wilson

In the final installment of the open house series, I wish to address the all-important prospect bonding process. You’ve invested your precious irreplaceable time, hopefully not in vain, and established that your visitors are buyer orphans – that is, not under contract with another brokerage. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that you’ve succeeded in making a positive connection with your guests?

As you near the end of the showing, during which you’ve been gently asking probing questions and actively listening to replies – verbally and non-verbally – you’ve deduced a lack of interest. Before even asking how they feel about the property, you might voluntarily opine that this property is probably not for them (unless, of course, it is, in which case you perform a trial close).



The couple may have exchanged a momentary look during the showing that shouted their longing to escape at the first opportunity and may be pleasantly surprised and relieved that you sensed their feelings. Released from the unpleasant task of telling you it’s not for them, they might hang around a little longer to chat. Once again, it’s about bonding, about connecting on an emotional level.

As you approach the front door, if you’re unclear about their feelings, ask them how they feel about the home – not what they think about it. The two questions will illicit distinctly different answers. Ask for their thoughts and they’ll probably reply that it has most of the basic ingredients they’re searching for, but they’re unsure. Inquire of their feelings, however, and they’ll often honestly say whether or not they like it or that it’s lovely or they hate it. Thoughts will be about the property, whereas feelings will be about them.

Make it about them – not the house. Buying decisions are based primarily on feelings – not thoughts. Feelings rule. If you feel you understand their wants and needs, as you all return to the foyer, in a natural and spontaneous way, verbally summarize the answers they gave to your various questions sprinkled throughout the viewing.

“So, John and Jane, you want a large master suite with a private bathroom and three other bedrooms for Jimmy, Judy and Jodie. You prefer a main-floor family room with a gas fireplace and a big kitchen. You appreciate the benefits of a main-floor laundry and prefer the spaciousness of a double garage for all the family bikes. You definitely don’t want a swimming pool, but a finished basement would be a definite plus for a kid’s play area. Because of your daughter’s allergies, you prefer hardwood floors instead of broadloom. Walking distance to a public school is a priority. And it’s a bit more than you prefer to spend. Have I got that about right?”

I guarantee they’ll be impressed. They may not show it, but they’ll be pleased that you made the conscious effort to not only remember their names, but all they had shared during the showing. They’ll appreciate that you paid attention. You may even have helped them clarify their own needs. This is your chance to shine.

Ask them if they’d permit you to save them a ton of time, effort, frustration and fuel exploring a never-ending series of open houses held at unaffordable or unsuitable homes and constantly perusing newspaper ads and websites. Offer to email them every new listing, including details, photos and virtual tours of homes that might meet their specific needs, price range and preferred neighbourhood. They’ll not have to lift a finger (except for their mouse) or load the kids into the car on futile jaunts every weekend.

If their wants and needs are unusual or unique, or they’re luxury or rural home buyers, offer to personally preview the listings for computer-unsearchable features to filter them further. For example, your visitors may be avid non-smokers who cannot tolerate odorous smoke residue. This isn’t normally indicated in the listing data (yet). You can save them precious irreplaceable time. Your quality service is all about them.

If they already own a home, do they have an estimate of its market value? To provide further opportunity to enhance your bond, offer them a complimentary Comparative Market Analysis. By agreeing to accept your service, they’ll have a more accurate estimate of how much they can realistically afford to spend. Unbeknownst to them, they may qualify for an even better place! The clincher is that your buyer agency service will not likely cost them a dime. If you’ve impressed them with your charming attention, how could they refuse?

Dress comfortably to suit the environment. Be yourself. Be genuine – not pitchy. If you’re able to establish a congenial connection, they’ll recommend you within their sphere of influence – and be less likely to demand full service with discounted fees. And charging full fees is how one builds a profitable real estate practice.

“Everybody has a world and that world is completely hidden until we begin to inquire. As soon as we do, that entire world opens to us and yields itself. And you see how full and complex it is.” – David Guterson

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  • Carolyne L

    Once again, cannot post at reply button, thus my post to Brian’s reply to Ross, here:

    You triggered another thought, Brian:

    Typically I carried from 17 to 24 active listings, in rotation, as one or two would sell in a week they would be replaced by new listings. So, I thought I was being creative when replacing “Take One” feature sheets in boxes on my listed property signs.

    The very first time I used the back side of a feature sheet to show a list of ALL current listings, by address, on the off-chance if the subject property was of no interest, one of the others might fill the need, I got a wake-up call.

    It hadn’t occurred to me to tell the seller, who was given a supply of replacement box feature sheets. Talk about full disclosure! He loved the feature sheets that matched the specifically written storybook web page for his property.

    BUT, he didn’t know that the cross-referencing back page at other listings had HIS property noted. He hadn’t put that thinking together. And whose fault was that? Unequivocally MINE! Big booboo! In future a brief “why and how come” note precluded each list.

    Wonderful and otherwise pleased seller that he was… His call went something like this: “HEY, Girl!!! … !
    I’m paying you to sell MY house, and I expect to have your full attention in that regard. WHOOPS.

    Full explanation followed without a heartbeat. Leading me to explain to each subsequent new listing and other current ones, my intention in cross-marketing. I thought it was a good marketing technique, and still do, seeing as I had a full roster of variable price ranges, at most times in my career.

    But of course full disclosure even covers this attempt at cross-marketing each and every listed property. An eye-opening, noted and covered ever after. Never had a seller not love the concept, explained and “disclosed” in full at each listing sign-up contract.

    Full-disclosure applies in all regards. Nothing not-disclosed, possibly perceived as hiding behind the vail for any reason. Innocently contrived or hidden agenda. Always better to be safe than sorry.

    As you noted someplace in discussions, Brian, the public reads these REM pages and are invited to do so. Best to dot the i’s and cross the t’s.

    Cordially (just sharing, not meaning to criticize anyone)

    Carolyne L 🍁

  • Carolyne L

    Brian

    This reminded me that a REALTOR(r) should know when to keep their mouth shut. The buyers had been my sellers. There are so many questions to ask and in spite of how we try to cover most, there’s always one that escapes asking.

    I had not thought to ask: “Do you know anyone in this subdivision?” (Where we were about to view a property…). I had prepared a few listings list I thought they might be in tune with, based on their wants and needs shared with me. (I follow directions really well. But I have to have good directions.)

    We can often compute a front door reaction. As I have been known to say many times: “A house mostly sells from the front door, the moment the buyer crosses the threshold,” and the rest of the visit becomes, then, just a matter of verifying the decision their heart or their brain made the moment they stepped inside.

    Countless people have verified my thinking on this topic, over the years, saying: “We knew. It just felt like home the minute we opened the door.”

    I always step back after opening the door, letting the buyers enter first (listening and watching their reaction carefully for signs, negative and positive.)

    Now let me say that your “opinion” or mine simply doesn’t matter. Mostly best not to open your mouth except to say: hmmm, at the utmost. We, as agents, have no right, ever, to say things such as: “Wow! What a wonderful (or ugly) paint colour, or choice of wallpaper.” Or: “Who would ever install a lilac clouted toilet, tub, and sink?” (People paid extra for that premium choice in the 60’s.)

    And certainly agents must never say: “I love this, or that.” No one cares that “you” love it, or never say: “who on earth would choose such and such.” There truly is a lid for every pot. We are the finest definition of matchmaker. But what “we” think or feel has no bearing.

    And in this particular showing, the opportunity presented itself loud and clear. One practically needed sunglasses, the paint was so vivid, so “loud,” it practically screamed. And it wasn’t a high grade matt paint finish product. Although it was a professional paint job.

    They were a wonderful late middle aged adoring each other couple, who both spoke a second language. But in plain English, she said in a super excited voice, something to this effect: “Oh, darling, do you remember the house near us in (another city), and the whole house was painted the same “beautiful” colour as this. And here it seems to be everywhere too. (Open floor plan). I always wanted to be daring enough to paint our house this colour, but it never happened. Here it is. Already done and waiting for us. This really “feels” like home, just stepping in the door.”

    Now these folks were down-sizing. One of the most difficult moves to make. Even more so than a first time buyer’s dilemma. They wanted to spend some time travelling.

    We walked through. I always let the buyer choose the order of rooms they prefer to check out first. For some people the master bedroom size matters most, for others it’s how the kitchen is co-ordinated.

    And the capper of the deal: her brother and family lived nearby in the same subdivision. Of course I had no way of knowing that.

    Quiet excitement reigned. Before we left, I knew my work was finished. They were going to offer full price in a quiet market. The house hadn’t sold quickly, perhaps due to the paint colour. Had the listing agent advised to cover it all in a neutral paint it would have taken many coats of paint. Some agents do that.

    I only once suggested such to a seller. And she initially had offered to do so. I said we could market the house to someone who would love her vivid orange mid size foyer, or she could get rid of the orange paint. Her choice. She elected to do basic boring beige cover up. Many people love beige. It sold to the first one to view.

    Off topic: I read that if you want to get rid of a vivid colour paint, first paint over it with silver paint. I’ve never tried it so I don’t know if it works. Maybe a reader knows.

    These buyers’ place was sold firm, and we had a matching workable closing date. The listing agent (now deceased) was known to be difficult. We gave him no opportunity to be so. Sold sign went up in a few days, following the home inspection. His face spoke “shock” when he open the offer file as we sat at the table, to present. And he looked long and hard for some way to create a sign back; but found none. There’s something to be said for the old presentation, one on one. There was nothing to change.

    My buyers/sellers wrote me a wonderful letter, explaining how much they appreciated how I had marketed their existing place and how quickly it had sold at top of market price, in a quiet market, on a busy subdivision lead street, positioned right where dozens of children gathered daily to catch a school bus, and then found them the perfect magic new place, done up in that magnificent magic screaming loud colour. My, my! How glad I know when to keep my mouth shut.

    And, as an aside, re noted in article, full commission: as many of my clients, they paid 7 Pts. And with their buyer contract in place they paid 3 Pts when the seller was only offering 2.5 to the co-op. Billable and payable through their lawyer as an adjustment on closing. Not paid by the seller. Although I could have asked for an amended co-op, we decided together not to.

    In another time and another place I would have perhaps enjoyed being an interior decorator, (I confess: the part of this business I enjoy least is looking at houses), or an operative in urban planning and development, or an investigative researcher. So many things fascinated me when I was younger. And still do. But old too soon.

    Many have heard me say, the real estate industry is really not so much about bricks and mortar; it’s purely a people business. Me, it’s not all about cooking, either. Reading, writing, and loving what we do for others, fills 24 hours of every day. We need food for the soul, too, and real estate provides it aplenty.

    And sometimes we choose “The Road Less Travelled.” And then there’s often: “one set of footprints in the sand.” And they aren’t mine, surprisingly enough.

    Carolyne L 🍁

    • Carolyne L

      I wrote, and perhaps should have expanded:
      “His face spoke “shock” when he opened the offer file as we sat at the table, to present.”

      I later learned I had embarrassed him, certainly not intentionally, in front of his sellers whom he had admonished regarding the all over the main areas regarding the (loud) paint situation having apparently told them it would be difficult to sell their place, if not entirely so without a major price reduction to obliviate [“obliviate” may be derived from the Latin oblivisci, meaning “to forget”, or the English word oblivion, defined as “the fact or condition of forgetting or having forgotten”. It may be derived from the Latin term oblivio, which also means”to forget”] the need to adjust for the paint issue, and that it would be all but impossible to get anything like the price they wanted.

      WHOOPS! I came along and made him look foolish, in front of his sellers (thus the look of shock on his face), he later let me know. Not a thank you for bringing a great offer. How to make an enemy :)

      Carolyne L 🍁

    • Brian Martindale

      Carolyne:
      It’s all about familiarity. People are drawn to what is familiar to ‘them’, and others (in this case, Realtors) will generally not know what familiarity patterns a stranger has ensconced within his/her memory banks. Ergo, your clients loved a familiar colour (to them) that many would recoil from. Best to keep an open mind vis a vis the closed-mindedness of others, and to accept that fact.

  • Brian Martindale

    Ross:
    The only thing that you left out was thus: Make sure that you advise sellers that open houses are used, for the most part, to gather buyer clients for the benefits of the registrants conducting the open houses. Also tell them that the odds that their properties will be sold to open house visitors are low. It’s called full disclosure.
    People don’t like being psychologically shoehorned by commissioned sales people who employ learned strategies designed to gain a short-term toe-hold that will lead to a long-term effect. I would say that your psychological advice works very well indeed on people who don’t realize what is going on at the time. However, I believe that this kind of manipulation of likely ignorant-to-the-knowledge-of-psychological-ploys customers by registrants who will find it easier to learn these strategies vs learning all things real estate related, is best saved for psychologists who are trying to help clients with their personal real-life psychological problems…for a salary, not for a potential commission. Being a professional Realtor should be about knowing real estate related information inside-out and backward. Being able to answer questions posed by customers/clients factually and honestly is the holy grail, not being able to practice psychology on them. Work in the best interests of people (after acquiring the experience, education and proper public service mindset) and the money will follow. Don’t give in to the attitude that one must ‘chase’ money. If one cannot swim in the swift currents of real estate transactions without a life-jacket of psychological crutches, then one does not belong in the business/so-called profession. Yes, real estate is a ‘people’ business, but it is first and foremost a ‘knowledge/experience’ business. One cannot supplant product/legal knowledge with quickly learned psychological strategies and expect to be a professional Realtor. However, by employing the latter strategies, one can aspire to becoming a rich salesperson…ergo…a stereotypical real estate salesperson…as determined to be so by much of the public.
    Yes Ross, your strategies do work. I employed similar strategies (after having studied some psychology at university) whilst working as a conciliator…for the best interests of both sides…but I worked for a salary. I had no vested interest regarding outcomes.

    • Thanks for your comments, Brian. For the most part, I agree with you, except that my strategies have never been intended as manipulative.

      I’ve always been a service-oriented person. And the more I know someone, the better the service I was able to provide. I never coerced a prospect into a decision that failed to meet with their stated objective. I merely behaved in a manner designed to know them as much as possible so that I could help them reach their goal. I built trust. I built relationships that withstood the test of time. My practice, which has lasted over 4 decades, was built almost exclusively on referrals, returning former clients and personal contact. Why? Because they trusted my knowledge and experience, but also they trusted me personally. They were confident that I’d always put their interests ahead of my own.

      I gave them my attention. I both passively and actively listened so that I could learn who they were. That’s what I mean when I suggested that one begin to build a bond with open house visitors. It’s an opportunity to add to your business network. You want to be their agent for life. Connect with them, and the commissions will more easily follow. The result? A long and fruitful career.

      • Alan M.

        Ross,

        Brian asked you a straight forward question as to whether or not you disclose to seller clients: that the main purpose of your open house is to potentially garner new buyer prospects for your own benefit towards: “A long and fruitful career.” Since you decided to avoid answering his direct question, by default, you have confirmed that you: don’t, do the disclosure! But then again, since you don’t correlate your Agency obligations to your open houses, at least you are being consistent.

        Surely this can’t be your final installment, in what has been such an enlightening series about how to conduct open houses without regard for Agency Law.

        I seem to recall that the American military had a battle strategy called “shock and awe”, and I’m wondering if you haven’t adopted that style for your 1% patch wearing attitude relating to the laws of the organized real estate world.

        I particularly enjoyed the “shock and awe” of your following statement:

        “If you’re able to establish a congenial connection, they’ll recommend you within their sphere of influence – and be less likely to demand full service with discounted fees. And charging full fees is how one builds a profitable real estate practice.”

        It is absolutely beyond incredible, after all the unwanted attention that the industry has endured from the Competition Bureau of Canada that there are still those who don’t have the good sense to not invite a further beat down. There is no such thing as “full fees” and there is no such thing as “discounted fees” — because such talk implies that the industry has a “fee” that could be considered “full” and one that is considered “not full”! The industry has practitioner’s who are worth a higher fee and those who are worth a lower fee, but the industry doesn’t have a “fee” let alone a “full fee”!

        Ross, your letters are required to be approved by your managing broker, so clearly that individual has endorsed your words. The time is quickly approaching where the local Boards and or Associations choice of inaction, won’t be a choice anymore, because its just going to be taken out of their hands!

        • Hi Alan: It’s always good to hear from one of my regular readers, even if the comments seem critical in nature. Such feedback keeps me sharp.

          I didn’t answer what you said was a question from Brian because it was not a question, but a clear statement of how he practices his business. And I chose not to criticize him. In fact, I happen to disagree that it’s necessary to disclose to a seller the intent of an open house. To me, and to any reasonably lucid homeowner, it is obvious that the main purpose of such marketing is to expose the seller’s property to the buying public, which happens to be the same purpose for newspaper and Internet advertising. I’ve actually sold many listings from my opens over the years, either as dual agent or after a buyer and/or their representative viewed the property on open. My sellers have always been happy with the results. Never did they claim that I failed to disclose any hidden agenda.

          Having said this, the secondary purpose is, once again, obviously for the opportunity to meet prospective buyers. If you were to examine the terminology of a standard listing contract, you would discover that the homeowner authorizes the listing brokerage to market the property at its own discretion, within the confines of the law and code of ethics, of course. Specifically, the brokerage is authorized to “make all advertising decisions relating to the marketing of the Property for sale during the Listing Period”. Since open houses are considered marketing, they would be included in this general authorization.

          Alan, you seem truly confused and fearful with respect to the subject of disclosure. Maybe a course might help you in this regard?

          Regarding your reference to “shock and awe”, I fail to understand your point, except that you seem fearful once again. I didn’t make any reference to an industry standard fee since that is no longer a reality, nor is it permitted as it once was many years ago. As you might know, there was a time when real estate boards rejected listings if they were not contracted at the standard commission rate.

          You must realize that individual brokerages (as well as many sales reps with their brokerage’s permission) retain the right to charge whatever rate they wish. Thus, if an agent’s personal policy is to charge a particular commission rate for any given service, they are quite within their rights. If a home owner demands a rate which is lower than an agent’s minimum personal policy rate, that agent certainly has the right to refuse the listing. Or to win it, they can accept the listing and “discount” their normal fee. We certainly agree that some agents are worth a higher fee than others, but that’s common to practically any industry, be it legal, medical, manufacturing or whatever.

          I also agree that our industry needs a major cleaning. There are far too many registrants, and far too much incompetence. The problem is only exacerbated by the trend toward “agent warehouses” that inherently lack proper management oversight. I’ve lost count of the number of situations during my career wherein an agent representing a buyer or seller has made serious errors, both technical and ethical. The first problem will be rectified when the next market correction arrives, resulting in a major exodus. The second will take significant proactive effort by whomever is administering the Act.

          You might appreciate my next column series on the subject of fees. I trust this helps clarify things for you regarding open houses. Be well.

          • Alan M.

            Ross,

            I think the problem clearly is that: you’re not fearful and that’s because the Regulatory Authority just sits on their hands, while you do or say whatever you want to. Their inaction hasn’t helped the industry any more or less than you have!

          • Well, Alan, I beg to differ. I could name many specific agents whom I taught, trained, managed or mentored over the years who very much appreciated my business and life philosophies. And finally, you are absolutely correct when you say that I’m not fearful, though I do suffer the occasional relapse into the darkness.

            To live in fear is not a life worth living. Fear is responsible for all of the problems on our planet. Obviously, this is not the place for such a discussion, but suffice it to say that I’d much prefer to live in love, which happens to be the opposite of fear. May I suggest that before you continue to throw stones, you read my book. Live in love, Alan.

          • Brian Martindale

            Ross:
            Although your post is aimed as a reply to Alan’s questions, I must reply to your statement that you “…happen to disagree that it’s necessary to disclose to a seller the intent of an open house.” Following is my reasoning for disagreeing with your position:
            My primary concern is that without all knowable relevant information being provided to sellers regarding the intent of holding open houses, said sellers will not be in the position of being able to make fully informed decisions. Just because some/a small minority of open houses result in sales does not mean that sellers should expect that their particular properties will sell due to the holding of open houses. Providing full ‘factual’ disclosure means that a Realtor will first be aware of the statistics regarding the sales percentages of open houses across the board (not for just a particular Realtor, in this case, you) and that those statistical facts will be provided to the sellers in order for them to make informed decisions. By not knowing (even not wanting to know) the facts and by further not providing them to sellers is on the face of it an overt form of practicing manipulation by omission.
            My secondary (but just as important) concern is that newbies and other longer term failures-in-waiting who read your current article are more easily influenced by the old school sales culture that pervades organized real estate to this day, and that old school sales culture is the main problem that underpins the industry. There is no countervailing position within the industry because the primary directive of the industry is to generate commissions any which way possible…or die. Ergo, one must have a long-term vision of creating wealth in order to just survive in reality, because, you never know, that big break just might come along tomorrow. For most, that tomorrow never comes, no matter how many strategies are employed. One need only look at the numbers of failures-at-the-trough to prove my point.
            What you are doing, Ross, is to promulgate that which has proven to be financially successful for ‘you’, but that does not mean that what you have been doing is right for ORE in general, moving forward. Yes, there will always be a small minority of registrants which takes advantage of the system as it has forever existed and continues to exist. But that is the reason that the majority of consumers regard real estate sales representatives (Real estate Agents, as most call us) as being near the bottom of the barrel of trustworthiness/competence. You are simply defending what you have always done without possibly being truly aware/circumspective of your deep, primary motives, in my opinion. (I am not saying that your motives are overtly selfish)
            If you truly believe that “There are far too many registrants, and far too much incompetence.”, then you also must believe that by selling false hope to wannabes, via your encouragements to carry out your strategies, simply keeps the “…too many registrants/far too much incompetence.” ball rolling. A few readers of your article might benefit (for themselves, not necessarily for their clients) from your advice, but most will not, and that is the problem. All wannabes and longer-term failures-in-waiting pay attention to the never ending Rah-Rah-Rah pump-’em-up here’s-what-you-do-to-get-rich strategies, but they just keep on crashing and burning, and the public keeps on realizing that reality.
            Yes, the “…industry needs a major cleaning.”, but what it needs most is a new engine, a new driving force, a new philosophy, a philosophy that earmarks Realtors as professional advocates who are not afraid of disclosing full disclosure, who are not in the business just to become wealthy by means of establishing a commission assembly line. The old school kind of entrenched and laid-down-from-on-high easily-become-a-Realtor-and-become-wealthy ORE mantra is the mantra of a dying breed.
            With all due respect, I do not believe that you, Ross, are a servile commission chaser who has only one thing on your mind, being, getting rich, but, I do believe that you are simply a long-term beneficiary of being indoctrinated from the get-go, many years ago, into the old school sales culture…just as I was way back when (1980) when I first became a registrant. The difference between you and me…now…is…I have been reformed; I have learned from my mistakes of practicing learned strategies in pursuit of mega commissions (greed) by way of recently (2008 onward) challenging my old beliefs, and thus deciding that my old ways were indeed unwittingly very selfish to the exclusion of my clients’ best interests (even though I managed to convince myself that I was working for their best interests…as long as I earned those great commissions). I was a great salesman when I wanted to be only that.
            We learn much from our mistakes…if we are smart. We learn very little from our successes, because there is no need to challenge what we have done to achieve those successes. I have learned a lot, and so too has RECO, I hope. It is high time for the hen-house to be guarded by other that the foxes.
            To conclude: I think that all REM advisory articles from registrants should be submitted with this thought in mind: the public is reading these articles; what would they think of these ‘strategies’ that are being encouraged to be used in order to influence them to do, or not do, to think, or not think, certain things? This is a one-way track to be travelled to hopefully achieve mega commissions. A one-way track leads to a one-track mind, and a one-track mind is the friend of indoctrination.
            Why else would a wannabe become a Realtor?

          • If you were to know me personally, Brian, or even to read my book, you would soon realize that I’ve never been a chaser of commissions as you so aptly describe. I’ve never striven to be “rich” in the monetary sense. My goal has always been to serve my clients ethically and honestly in a forthright manner, to help them achieve their real estate goals. The “strategies” offered in this column and my book were not designed to
            trick anyone into doing something they’d prefer not to do, but to simply
            help them make decisions. It’s all about building relationships. It’s
            about effective service.

            By any standard, I certainly have enjoyed a successful, referral-based career. It was my practice to build long-term, trusting relationships with people who (when loyalty – and not commission rate – was more in vogue) typically called me for service. I’ve not measured success by my bank balance or the number of toys in my yard. I sought smiles and congratulatory handshakes from satisfied clients, and the commissions naturally followed. I was indeed often the family agent, having taken care of second generation family members who I watched grow up.

            My motivation for writing my book, The Happy Agent, and this continuing column, was to help those agents interested in growth. However, sadly, it’s a fact that a very high percentage or people, including real estate sales reps, don’t read anything beyond restaurant menus and text messages. However, if I can help a single sales rep achieve some measure of success by practicing my methodology, then I feel that I’ve succeeded in my mission.

            Due to public demand, directly and indirectly, the industry is definitely evolving, and in most respects, for the better. However, when the market changes from its current hot seller’s market, in which anybody can earn a commission if they have a listing, I suggest that home owners may rue the day when they had the opportunity to be represented by agents who actually possess the skills necessary to effectively market real property. I’ll be retiring soon and leave the industry to others. But I’ll likely not recognize it in a few short years.

          • Brian Martindale

            Ross: I have one more issue to discuss with you, and then I will drop it.
            Re: part of your second paragraph to Alan, beginning with “To me, and to any reasonably lucid homeowner, it is obvious that the main purpose of such marketing…” (holding open houses) “…is to expose the seller’s property to the buying public, which happens to be the same purpose for newspaper and internet advertising.” I have two problems with that statement.

            First: It is only latently obvious (by means of hearsay) that the main purpose of holding open houses is to expose same to the buying public, because that is what sellers have been encouraged to believe is the ‘only’ purpose. Most sellers are blissfully unaware that there is a primary purpose for many Realtors to hold open houses (as well as a secondary purpose for others, such as yourself), and that back-room purpose is to marry up to buyers…keeping sellers in the dark…unless Realtors disclose these realities to the contrary. Thus, misinformation by omission too often rules the day, and unreasonable and/or non lucid homeowners, aka ignorant homeowners (who have every right to be treated fairly, just as reasonable and lucid homeowners have the right to be treated fairly) are denied the right to make fully informed choices vis a vis holding open houses, or not. Deciding not to want to hold an open house on the part of the seller denies the selling Realtor the opportunity to grab buyer clients by way of personally using face-to-face learned strategies on them. Which brings me to my second point.
            Comparing open houses with newspaper and internet marketing as one and the same thing is absolutely comparing apples and oranges. Why? Newspaper and internet marketing do not give one the opportunity of immediately meeting, thus potentially influencing, real live people at a physical location. Eyeballs reading newspapers and internet offerings are simply remotely scanning words and pictures. The eyeball scanning tools might ultimately serve to deliver prospect(s) to the home where the Realtor waits…like a spider in its web…but the latter tool…the open house…is where flesh meets flesh, where the establishment of rapport (often mercenarily pursued as the result of learned rapport-building techniques) takes place. Therefore, a Realtor holding an open house may hopefully gain more than one sale due to winning over visitors as buyer clients whilst the subject property may never sell during the contract period with the seller. The odds of exponentially increasing one’s business therefore is exactly why Realtors encourage sellers to allow them to hold open houses. It is a no-brainer. Which is precisely why a listing Realtor should provide full disclosure to his/her seller regarding the selling opportunities that open houses provide for the benefit of the Realtor, and not for the seller. Statistics show that open houses benefit Realtors more than they benefit sellers. So-called savvy Realtors (operating under old school sales strategies) will carefully not push the benefits of the subject open house too much when they can otherwise lock visitors up to buying contracts by displaying more easily accepted “soft-sell” strategies. Maybe that is why Realtors don’t want owners to be present when open houses are being conducted? If this were not true, then why would Realtors want to hold open houses at all…when the odds of selling same are low? Obviously, the odds of selling a property to a newly contracted buyer, or buyers, are much higher. This then is why open houses are popular…for Realtors. This is why full disclosure, re all things informational and sales related, should be mandated by RECO. Full disclosure should not be something to be withheld, or not, according to the personal whims of Realtors who argue that reasonably lucid homeowners ought to know what the information being withheld actually means, if indeed they know that said information actually exists in the first place. How can someone (your average Joe and Jane) who is not privy to the inner workings of organized real estate know what they don’t know? Full disclosure, all of the time, every time, to the end of time, no if, ands, or buts.
            I rest my case.

          • I thought it rather obvious, Brian, that open houses are simply another marketing methodology. And as I said, the listing contract provides the brokerage with the unilateral right to make the marketing decisions.

            Obviously, unlike print ads, since opens involve an “invasion” of their privacy, the seller should be asked whether or not they agree to an open house. But in my experience, the vast majority of my sellers typically ask ME if I plan to hold them for their property. And since I’ve enjoyed much success with opens, that is to say, have often sold my listings from such marketing, my personal policy has always been that if I felt the property suitable, I would comply with their request to hold at least one open for their home. Or in the absence of their request for an open, I’d offer to provide such service.

            I cannot speak for any other registrants regarding their personal policies on open houses. I can only offer my own, which is that marketing a particular property has always been my main purpose in holding an open. Having said this, if I was able to introduce myself to prospective buyers who visited my open, I was then able to provide a superior service to other sellers as well, not to mention the buyers.

      • Brian Martindale

        Thank you for responding to my critique Ross:
        You confirmed that you use strategies when you wrote “…my strategies have never been intended as manipulative.” Let us look at the meaning of the word ‘strategy’:</p.
        strategy: large scale plan or method for winning a war, battle of wits, contest, game etc. (The Penquin Concise English Dictionary)
        Therefore, anyone who utilizes a learned strategy/set of strategies is by definition planning to win any of the aforementioned categories of opposition. The entire thrust of a strategy is to manipulate/out think the opponent. Thus, when teaching strategies, one teaches (tacitly) that one is up against an opponent to be overcome That is the problem that I have with your, and many others’ (what I believe to be) misplaced efforts. Perhaps you have chosen the wrong word to describe your belief system, which obviously is well entrenched…because it does indeed work…on naïve/ignorant folks. Without malice, I look forward to your response to my, and others’, concerns.
        P.S.: To Alan’s query: Did you/do you disclose up front to open house sellers that open houses are regularly used by Realtors to acquire buyer clients and that open house subject properties are seldom sold via holding open houses?
        Thank you in advance.

        • Perhaps, Brian, under the circumstances, I should have chosen a different word than strategy. Obviously, my intent was misinterpreted, which was always to serve my clients’ interests.

          In case you’re unable to glean my policy from the remainder of the article and adjoining commentary (or my book, The Happy Agent), it was to connect with prospects, from whatever source, to bond with them, to begin a friendly, respectful relationship so that I could better serve and fulfill their wants and needs.

          As you’re probably aware, consumers often base their choice of agent on how much they like and/or respect them. If they feel comfortable, they’re more inclined to share their thoughts and feelings. And when that occurs, the odds of converting them from mere prospect into a client are significantly increased. We’re here to serve, of course, as are doctors and lawyers. But we’re also business people working to earn a living and hopefully, a profit. Otherwise, we’re in the wrong business.