Dead Open Homes? Tips to Increase Traffic…

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All posts / For Sellers / General: Real Estate

You woke up a bit earlier than usual this morning for the 6th weekend in a row and tidied your home in anticipation of a flood of buyers who, no doubt, have your 1-2pm Open Home carefully scheduled in their phones.

At 2.01pm the phone rings. It’s your agent. Your face falls.

“One buyer? Oh? Jim from next door. Greeeat…All that strive and only our least favorite neighbor bothered to come through! You’ve got to be kidding?!”

What can you do to increase traffic when your Open Homes are dead?

Now before I begin let me just say that nobody has a silver bullet, including me, otherwise I would be sunning myself on some faraway beach with a fruity cocktail in hand instead of writing this blog.

Sometimes buyers are few and far between and perseverance is the name of the game. You may live in an area where median days to sell are 152 but, regardless of where you live, if something isn’t working you need to experiment until you find something that will.

Here are some ways to troubleshoot the near nonexist traffic through your carefully presented home…

How sharp are your photos?

Your photos are your bait.

Can’t catch snapper with a chocolate fish, can you?

Your photos should be sharp and professional. Remember that nothing is neutral. If it doesn’t work for you, ditch it. This means don’t use a photo of any space unless the photo makes it look as good as it does when you are there in person. We’re even ok with a little better but take it easy with the wide-angle lens…

Tip: It is more important to use only great photos than it is to have a photo of every space throughout your home.

Internet Marketing: Boosts and Features

Check that you are not on page five of Trademe for your suburb.

You want your web based listing to be so easy to find that your buyers are tripping over you, not having to hunt for you. If you’ve been on the market for a few weeks and have dropped down the list you need to get yourself back up there onto page one. This will mean a small investment on your part but it is worth it.

Are you stale?

Check the date on your listing.

This is a biggie. If you have been on the market for a couple of months and your numbers were okay but have recently dropped off you may be going stale!

It can be very effective to pull your listing offline and reload it, thus generating a new ‘list date’ online – and sadly a new list fee from sites like Trademe and the need to relaunch your features/upgrades etc. Bite the bullet and do it. 

Clearly, there are many perceptive buyers out there who will still recognize a photo so this isn’t going to work on our die-hard who has been diligently trawling the web for listings in your suburb for six months but it can and does work.

I relaunched a property once and sold the house to a buyer who called and said “Hi, I’m just calling about your new listing…”

Try it.

Note: Changing your lead shot every five minutes does not do the same thing. Buyers who recognize photos easily will recognize any photo, regardless of order. They will also notice your bizarre rapid photo rotation and wonder what on earth your agent is on. It looks desperate. Don’t do it.

Marketing: Print Media

I am not a big believer in the efficacy of print media unless it is highly targeted. It is far too expensive to use for a machine gun approach and, when used as such, usually does more for your lovely agents profile than it does for your property.

But…if you have a niche property or very specific information about where your buyers are coming from (Trademe reports are amazing for this) and, even better, what they are reading, this can be something to consider in order to get in front of more of your target audience.

Use print media intelligently and it might just do more than burn a hole in your pocket.

Agent collaboration

Now I’m not talking about the home team from your listing agents office that came through on the Monday or Tuesday after you signed your Agency Authority. Or about your agency of choice’s greater network in the vicinity.

I’m talking about collaboration with….the competition.

The industry term for this kind of collaboration is conjunctional sale.*

*I will post a blog fleshing out what this looks like for the unfamiliar

Related Post: Conjunctional Sales: What They Mean For You.

How does it work?

Here are two ways your agent could collaborate with other agents, regardless of brand.

  1. Send out an invite to every agent marketing a property in your suburb introducing your property to them and welcoming them to bring their buyers. A phone call will get more attention than an email alone.
  2. Do you know what part of Auckland your buyers are predominantly coming from? Send out an invite to agents marketing properties in those areas, highlighting your property to them and inviting them to send their clients through your Open Home should they be looking to move to your area.**

**This only really works if your property is likely to be a second or subsequent home.

Where I am going with this is that sometimes, as an agent, you can’t just rely on your own network and you have to get out there and make some new connections in order to bring home the proverbial bacon for your seller.

Who are your buyers and where do they congregate?

Bring the mountain to Muhammed.

Can you get creative? Think about who your buyer is and where you might reach them.

I had a conversation recently with a lovely lady struggling to sell a beautifully presented two bedroom unit.

Who often pays better money for well presented two bedroom units? People who are retiring, but aren’t ready for or can’t afford the outgoings at a retirement village.

I suggested she might drop in to a couple of nearby retirement villages. These often have long waiting lists and the staff might be quite happy to have brochures at the desk as an additional option for people they are not able to help.

Think outside the square a little. As with agent collaboration, if the buyers aren’t talking to you, talk to the people who are talking to the buyers.

Note: If you haven’t already, you could also look at boosting your listing on Facebook into the part of Auckland that most of your buyers are coming from.

Are Open Homes right for the property?

Sometimes Open Homes aren’t the best way to show a particular property and you get more traffic by conducting private viewings.

If any of the following apply, you may want to rethink your Open Home approach.

Long shared driveways or driveways shared by more than two houses

Buyers usually have a fair number of properties to see and anything that looks ‘too hard’, like several houses up a driveway, can make them skip you. You don’t want to be the ‘We’ll come back and see it later….maybe..’ house.

In brief, if I’m buying and I can’t see where I’m parking from the road, I’m probably not coming down your driveway only to be blocked in by some other punter coming to your Open Home.

If the above applies to you, you may get better traffic if you conduct your viewings by appointment.

Limited parking

If buyers pull up and can’t figure out where to park this is a problem and you are better off conducting private viewings with clear instructions as to where to park. It’s much easier to txt an offhand “Oh…you’re welcome to park in the carport when you arrive”…leaving the buyer all warm and fuzzy than highlighting the tricky parking situation by actually making your buyers experience with it their first impression of your home.

Ugly or unkempt properties next door

Sometimes there is no help for these and the situation is what it is. But if the problem is fixable maybe you can put on your diplomats’ hat on and offer to help your neighbor with their issue. I’ve seen clients, mow their neighbours lawns, attack the jungle growing along the ROW, weed and stone chip their neighbours garden (while the neighbor was at work – NOT my suggestion but I can’t tell you how much I loved my client for it) and buy net curtains for the HNZ property across the road to replace the multi coloured sheets hanging in the windows.

If it isn’t fixable, at least with appointments you get the chance to explain that Bob next door may have three containers in his front yard but is a great neighbour who brings you fish when he’s been out on the boat and feeds your cat when you are away.

Something off putting nearby (ie. industrial areas)

If you know something may be a point of objection from the road but that the house isn’t really affected by it then selling by appointment can be a good option. Buyers might roll on past an Open Home but will likely stop and have a conversation if your agent is there to show them through, specifically.

I sold a property like this as well. The buyer was sitting in his car txting me a cancellation because he wasn’t keen on the industrial park across the road but, after a quick chat, agreed to take a look and loved it, brought his wife through that afternoon and bought it that evening. They are still there, many years later.

Now I didn’t talk the buyer into liking the factories across the road or make him forget they were there, I just showed him that he wouldn’t see them from the house.

You don’t get that opportunity with Open Homes.

Buyers love to see an address on your listing. In fact, as a buyer you want to have as much information as possible on a property before you make contact with the agent and definitely before you view.

When to withhold the address…

Why? So you can determine whether it’s right for you. And rule it out if it’s not.

If your hits are climbing, your Open Homes are dead quiet and the phone isn’t ringing witholding your address can be a good diagnostic tool.

Why? Isn’t this just going to annoy your buyers and cause even less to consider you? Well, yes and no. Buyers that are not seriously shopping will scroll on by but why would you care? They aren’t ready to buy anyway.

Buyers who are ready to buy are another story though. By withholding the address they are missing a key piece of information that they need in order to rule you out. Because of this, ditching your Open Homes and withholding the address online can be an effective way to get the phone ringing again.

You can’t sell to people you don’t speak to and conversations with your buyers will help you both connect their needs to features you offer and identify why your online hits have not been converting to visits, leading to a fix and a quicker sale.


Here we are again.

If you have no buyers week after week, your photos are sharp, and your ad description is great then your pricing, as compared to sales and other properties on offer in your suburb, might need some serious contemplation.

Buyers vote with their feet and price is the most common reason people don’t bother showing up.

Tip: Assuming you intend to buy elsewhere, remember to reassess your projected spend when you go through this process. It’s not uncommon for people to think they need to spend more than they actually do for their next step because they are looking at list prices, not sales prices in the area they are moving to. Ask your agent to help you out with some statistics for your intended destination. Or ask me here.

In closing…

If you have tried all of these already and you are still stuck then perseverance is the name of the game. Sometimes properties take longer to sell despite your best efforts and it’s hard to pinpoint the reason. And some properties are a bit niche in their appeal and only attract a few buyers every time they sell, regardless of market.

You only need one buyer though. Keep adjusting your strategy and hang in there!

Related Posts.

Smart Ways To Deal With Stupid Offers
Breaking Up With Your Real Estate Agent. Is It Them Or Is It You?

Dawn at Mission Bay

The Author

Maria is a veteran Auckland realtor, rookie blogger and long time resident of the West and Nor'west. Maria markets and sells residential and lifestyle property across Auckland and is based at Harcourts Northwest Realty Limited - Licensed REAA 2008


  1. Pingback: Conjunctional Sales: What they mean for you. – Insight

  2. Pingback: Breaking Up With Your Real Estate Agent. Is it them or is it you? | Insight

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