Seattle Residential: I Do That: I've Got Second Thoughts Thanks to Larry Bird

I've Got Second Thoughts Thanks to Larry Bird

I've Got Second Thoughts Thanks to Larry Bird

It's the end of the year and I've got my new business plan for 2011 on paper but now I've got second thoughts. In 2010 I think I did about 25 open houses.
  • I can't think of a single buyer that bought a listing because of an open house in 2010.
  • I can't think of a single buyer I met at an open house and worked with to a closed transaction in 2010.
  • I can't think of a single neighbor or other drop in at an open house that listed their home with me in 2010.

    So recently, in my 2011 plan I decided not to do open houses. I was thinking that I can always find another agent in my office to hold my listings open. If I get all of my listings priced exactly right, they will sell the first week anyway. And I have lots of other things I could be doing on Sundays.

    But then I caught part of a Celtic's game on TV. I don't know about you but when I see parquet flooring, when I see the Celtics on TV, I think of Robert Parish, Danny Ainge, Kevin McHale and Larry Bird. 1980's NBA basketball. Sure, you've got your favorites and I respect that. But...

    I remember watching Larry Bird in the finals of the NCAA tournament in the late 70's and one interviewer caught him pre-game or post game practicing left handed shots. The interviewer asked him why? And Larry told him it was because he was no good at shooting left handed. Years later, as a pro, Larry told his team mates he was going to take all of his shots left handed in a game. He didn't, but he got more than 20 of his 47 points left handed.

    The point is, maybe my open house skills are rusty. Maybe I need to practice them some more and find a way to make them work in the current economy. So I'm going to add open houses back into my 2011 business plan. I'm going to put a little more thought into the advertising and the presentation. I'm going to meet some interesting people and convert them into clients. 2011 is going to be a good year.






Glenn Roberts



Comment balloon 50 commentsGlenn Roberts • December 26 2010 07:18PM


Congrats on getting your 2011 plan done Glenn. But, I liked your thoughts of no open houses. I think they are a waste of time. Best of luck in 2011. I expect a much better year.

Posted by Keith Jeppson - Salt Lake City Real Estate (Everest Realty Group) almost 10 years ago

Glenn, and when you figure out what works, will you be sure to post it? Please? Best of luck in 2011!

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) almost 10 years ago

Keith - I know the feeling, and different markets demand different things, but I will make a note to let you know how it has been going come July 1.

Andrea - I welcome the opportunity to find something that works and will surely post it.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) almost 10 years ago


That's a pretty powerful concept you've outlined here. I hope your new again Open House strategy pays off.


Posted by Richard Iarossi, Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) almost 10 years ago

I'm known as the Open House Queen in my office, a title I'm not especially thrilled with.  But I have seen them work, first-hand, so I refuse to completely give up on them.  But I do think I will re-vamp my strategy.  Thanks for the shot in the arm! 

Posted by Tish Lloyd, Broker - Wilmington NC and Surrounding Beaches (BlueCoast Realty Corporation) almost 10 years ago

Rich - Well, I do to, but I'm looking for pointers as well. If any Gen-X or Y agents have any ideas, I'm happy to hear how the buyers in this market want to be treated.

Tish - I'd take a lesson from a Queen, if one was available.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) almost 10 years ago

I'm sure you'll come up with the right marketing plan that works for you Glenn............rethink the Open House strategy and go for it.

Posted by Roger D. Mucci, Lets shake things up at your home today! (Shaken...with a Twist 216.633.2092) almost 10 years ago

That's the spirit, time to rethink it and figureout how to improve instead of just thinking "it doesn't work"... Good luck in 2011.

Posted by Scott Fogleman, Greater Good Group (New Home Team 804-573-9592) almost 10 years ago

I do open houses, if they are easy to get to, like two turns off a highway. I do them for the sellers as well, as they expect them, they are totally hit or miss I agree.

Posted by David O'Doherty, Clayton NC Homes, Raleigh, NC (Raleigh Realty Inc) almost 10 years ago
That's got me thinking. Good job (Larry deserves credit,too) on inspiring all of us to do a little self assessment and hone our skills. It's easy to do what's easy. As we used to say in the Army: 'People will always follow the path of least resistance.'
Posted by Chris deLambert almost 10 years ago

Or... maybe your personal experience and changing real estate landscape tells you that Open Houses aren't the best use of your resources.

Posted by Tre Pryor, Realtor, e-PRO - Louisville Kentucky (REMAX Champions) almost 10 years ago

Great advice, we need to put that process to work in all aspects of our lives!

Thanks and happy New Year!!

Posted by Evelyn Rice, SFR - Northern Nevada (RE/MAX Complete Realty) almost 10 years ago

Glen, I am glad you added Open house for your 2011 plans. They have not generated direct lead but I have sold my listings to other buyers whose agents were too busy to show homes.

Posted by Ritu Desai, Virginia Realtor-Fairfax/Loudoun/PW-703-625-4949 (Samson Properties) almost 10 years ago

I like to do 12-18 Open Houses per year !!! Too many cuts into your personal life(rest of family) and will place that out of balance.

Posted by Michael J. Perry, Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist (KW Elite ) almost 10 years ago

How many signs do you put up for each open house? Do you door knock at least 20 homes with each open house to get the neighbors to attend and bring their friends? Do you invite past clients as well?

Posted by Andy Kress (Rental Solutions Oahu) almost 10 years ago
I am going to do open houses at least 1 x a month.. Real estate is like fishin..if you are sitting at home or in the know the rest of the story. Will admit my open houses have not been to great, but I told my sellers I would market their home! I remember the Celtics back then..too cool!
Posted by Homer Ray, Eastern NC Homes (Eastern NC Homes) almost 10 years ago

Glenn I am trying to get at least two Open Houses a month. And when it becomes Spring,do up to 4 Open houses a month. Hope you had a great Merry Christmas. Great post.

Posted by Lanre-"THE REAL ESTATE FARMER" Folayan, I don't make promises.I deliver results.SOLD HOMES (Keller Williams Select Realtors-Buy a home in Washington DC. Sell a home in Washington DC) almost 10 years ago

Roger - I plan to study this issue as I hold homes open this year.

Scott - Thanks

David - Accessibility is a key element and keeping sellers happy too.

Chris - Larry never quit. He made all aspects of his game better through practice.

Tre - I think open house are coming back. Many buyers search online and attend opens before finding an agent.

Evelyn - And happy new year to you.

Corinne - That's what my efforts this year will be all about.

Ritu - For many years open houses ruled the game in Seattle via the Seattle Times. Now without ads in the paper the game has changed. But lately our mls installed an open house feature and agents are having good results.

Michael - Family is very important. An agent in our company takes Saturdays of and likes to say, "Sunday is my Monday."

Andy - I usually mail 100 post cards to the near neighbors for the first open. Occasionally other means. Now-a-days it goes out to social media as well.


Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) almost 10 years ago
Glenn: Good for you. Personally, I plan on simplifying my approach in 2011. I think I complicated it too much in 2010. I do look forward to working with you in 2011. Thanks for the invite. Take care.
Posted by Paul McFadden, Pest Control, Seattle, WA. (Paratex) almost 10 years ago

Good luck with your open houses in 2011 and congrats on getting your business plan completed!

Posted by Dawn Crawley, Find Pinehurst Homes (Dawn Crawley Realty) almost 10 years ago

Some agents swear by Open Houses.  Over the years, I can credit Open House activity to many closed sales. 

Just like an athlete who knows that practice and training makes better and then near perfect, you'll make adjustments and see success. 

Are you permitted to announce Opens in the IDX?  That makes the phone ring here and gets the consumer to the opens.

Put up a targeted blog post for the Open a few days prior.  Google will help you.

Here's one that worked for me.  I partner with listing agents to promote their listings.

Work it and it will work for you.  Even if you don't see tangible results from the Open, you've got a happy seller which will redound to your benefit in ways you may never know.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) almost 10 years ago

I don't know any agent who is able to generate consistent business from open houses.  A lot of it has to do with where the house is IMO.

Posted by Justin Dibbs, REALTOR® - Ashburn Virginia Homes for Sale (Pearson Smith Realty) almost 10 years ago

Glenn, I too have mixed emotions about open house.  I have sold my listings from open house contacts and met many good prospects at open house.  Here is my blog on the subject:

Best wishes to you in 2011!

Posted by Karen Pannell, Owensboro KY Real Estate -270-903-2167 Homes, Cond (Real Living / Home Realty) almost 10 years ago

Homer - Meeting the people face to face is the best initial contact.

Lanre - That's aggressive.

Paul - I think making a more concerted effort when I do them will produce results. I think.

Dawn - Thanks. I'm ready.

Lenn - We're not permitted to put in the IDX but the mls combines all agents open houses with a feature on the listing input area. Offices are allowed to display that resource anyway they want as long as all opens entered get space. I'll send you a link when we get closer to the weekend. Doubt there are any up right now. I've done some opens with AR blog notice and had good attendance. Now I need to improve my game.

Justin - Yes, but some agents do better than others, so it's partly about lead capture and conversion as well.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) almost 10 years ago

Glenn, open houses are a staple of my business plan because I have been able to produce a significant amount of closed business from them.  In fact, roughly 20% of my closed business is traceable to my open houses, as well as 20% of my current pipeline of likely clients and prospects.  I think you're smart to take the "how to make them work" approach rather than the "they don't work" approach. You and I should get together again one of these days, and I'd love to talk about open houses.  I'll bet we can both get better at making them pay.

Posted by David North, for a rewarding real estate experience (Coldwell Banker Bain) almost 10 years ago


Success comes to those that think in the relm of success. I enjoyed your ability to refocus for a positive outcome.


Posted by Anonymous almost 10 years ago

Good reminder for all of us to polish our skills as we prepare for the challenges to be faced in the new year.

 Happy Holidays from your friend in Maryland.

Posted by Roy Kelley (Realty Group Referrals) almost 10 years ago

Karen - Your post brought up some excellent points. Well done.

David - You are in a mostly rural area and I know agents who are here in city like I am who make opens a successful part of their work. I did once and need to relearn my process.

Anon - positive attitude makes for progress.

Roy - The new year won't be for the feint of heart.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) almost 10 years ago

I'm trying to work smarter not harder. I'm not sure open houses are the best use of my time but still undecided at this point.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) almost 10 years ago

Tammie - maybe doing open houses smarter will work. That's what I am hoping. I've beat my past clients to death being subtle and not so subtle.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) almost 10 years ago
Glenn, in my 2001 business plan I included a goal of doing at least 2 open houses a month and preferrably 4. In the past I haven't had much success and I can't trace a single closed transaction to an open house I held. However, I looked at the overall number of new contacts I'm aiming for (a real weakness for me) and thought about how many contacts I made at the last open house I held. I look at it as a numbers game and if I can make 10-15 contacts holding an open house, then I've done pretty good. I try to build a rapport with those who stop by, including neighbors, and I always give them a few cards, not just one. They may not end up being a buyer, but if I've built enough of a relationship with them, they may give my info to someone else. Another consideration for me was my goal to be the neighborhood expert, so I am very selective about which properties I hold open. I want the neighbors to remember my name and associate with their neighborhood. To illustrate my point, my daughter and I were out driving and we saw an open house sign that an agent had posted on a busy corner. My daughter suddenly pipes up with how this agent is always holding open houses in that particular area, so she must know the area well and have a lot of listings there. Bingo! Out of the mouths of babes (and she's a teenager). That's how I want people to think about me. I hope you're new strategy works out and wish you a healthy and prosperous new year.
Posted by Lucille Botos (Lighthouse Properties) almost 10 years ago

Lucille - I know people recognize names that appear a lot and I'm hoping to combine localism posts with open houses to get some of that good ju-ju.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) almost 10 years ago

Seems to me that the people that show up (if any do) at open houses are random. I gave up doing them a couple years ago because of the unpredictability.

Posted by Eric Michael, Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519 (Remerica Integrity, Realtors®, Northville, MI) almost 10 years ago

Eric - I know what you mean, and I intend to change my approach and greet them anyway.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) almost 10 years ago
I say do what works. I do open houses because I actually enjoy them and have had success. Good luck to you in 20100
Posted by Kristi DeFazio, Colorado Springs Rea lEstate 719-459-5468 (RE/MAX Advantage) almost 10 years ago

Glenn i'm glad you decided to put open houses back on for 2011! I hope you keep us updated with the progress and the success that you gain from it. That's also a very interesting story about Bird with the left hand... good stuff for a basketball fan like myself. Thanks!

Posted by Ron Holborn, Commercial & SFR, Anaheim CA, Real Estate & Short (Short Sales, Foreclosures, Rentals, Income Real Estate) almost 10 years ago

Kristi - Exactly.

Ron - I plan to report on it every couple of months anyway.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) almost 10 years ago

I have mixed emotions on open houses. They do not generate a lot of traffic in our rural area - but as Lenn mentioned you really don't know how an open house could benefit you in the long run - in ways you never will know.

I do less than a handful a year - this post has me thinking - maybe add a few more?

Posted by Debbie DiFonzo, Lebanon MO and Buffalo Missouri Real Estate (Debbie DiFonzo - United Country VIP Realty, SW Missouri) almost 10 years ago

Debbie - I think I did too many last year without enough forethought and planning.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) almost 10 years ago
"A little more thought into the advertising and the presentation ..." That's the thousands and thousands of left-handed shots Bird took in practice so he could be ready for game situations. Maybe you could even bring a little of Larry to each open house, like knocking on 33 doors around the listing. Good luck!
Posted by John Novak, Henderson, Las Vegas and Summerlin Real Estate (Keller Williams Realty The Marketplace) almost 10 years ago
Say no more ! I have open houses figured out dont do them ! Well Sort of. If you have a lead generation system where you are getting leads on a regular basis then dont do them. If you decide to hold them because you lack sufficent lead generation you have to make it an event. I rarely do them but when I do I invite neighbours, make it an event put up 10 signs minimum , balloons advertising etc etc ( you get the idea) . A properly run open houses can generate leads and double traffic. Personally I always felt like a wallflower putting up signs standing on a corner going are you working with anyone etc etc. I eliminated open houses and my numbers have not declined and my quality of life has improved greatly !!
Posted by carl stars almost 10 years ago

John - 33 of something may just be the key. (My trunk won't hold 33 signs though:)

carl - lead generation + lead conversion. That's where we need to be.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) almost 10 years ago

Pateince and persistence get it done.  Seems lots of agens complain about nothing from open houses but,  those who really work them, say they pay off.

What the heck do I know, I'm just an inspector, but I find that if I really want something to work, it takes hard work to make it succeed.  Perhaps some people just don't put enough effort into making them work.


Posted by Erby Crofutt, The Central Kentucky Home Inspector, Lexington KY (B4 U Close Home Inspections&Radon Testing ( almost 10 years ago

Erby - you know. Inspectors build their clint base one inspection at a time, working hard and cultivating referrals.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) almost 10 years ago

Glenn - Take Lenn's advice to blog about it.  Google seems to love open house blogs, they shoot up to the top right away and stay for quite awhile, which means that any backlinks to your website are valuable.

Hope that left handed shot works for ya.  :)

Posted by Virginia Hepp - Mesquite NV REALTOR, Mesquite NV Homes and Neighborhoods - Search MLS (Desert Gold Realty - Mesquite NV Homes For Sale) almost 10 years ago
Hi Glenn. Loved the blog and watching the Bird video. I went to Indiana State right b/4 Bird years, but l lived in Terre Haute for those great basketball times. Recieved my degree in Marketing. I believe in open houses just like Kristi. You are marketing the home, but best of all your face and company is out in the community as a leader in your industry. Open houses are just another way to market your sales plans. Scale back, but make them the event of the neighborhood. Mark
Posted by Mark & Janelle Potter, Mark and Janelle Potter Realtors - Broadmoor Colo. (The Real Estate Network 719.331.4824) almost 10 years ago

Glen: Happy New year. I actually enjoy doing open houses (most of the time). Even if I don't get a new client (which I often do) it's a chance to interact with the buying public and gauge their buying sentiment and also get their opinion on the house I'm holiding open. 

Posted by Jane Jensen (Century 21 New Millennium) almost 10 years ago

Virginia - The ones I blogged about had great traffic. Need to wrap my mind around lead capture.

Mark - Making it an event is perfect.

Jane - Meeting people is key. Happy New Year.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) almost 10 years ago

Good for you taking a second look at yourself rather than the open houses. If you have people show up and you aren't converting them, then it isn't the open house that is the problem.

Posted by Todd Clark, Principle Broker Oregon (eXp Realty LLC) almost 10 years ago

Todd - you've got my number. Good call. I'm reinventing my open house presence.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) almost 10 years ago