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Showing still a good ploy

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Agents say show days remain valuable to secure sales, especially when used together with ‘For Sale’ signs

Technological advancements have taken human interaction out of many things in life, but when it comes to buying a home it seems show days are still “a thing”. The magnitude of their appeal is, however, dependent on a number of factors such as the weather, time and safety, agents say.

Knight Frank Residential’s sales manager, Lisa Connellan, believes show days are still viable because buyers prefer to view properties in person, particularly on weekends when they have time.

Buyers moving to a new area or city will also often drive around the neighbourhoods in which they are thinking of purchasing, and this provides the “perfect opportunity” to look for homes and get a feel for the areas.

Dogon group manager Alexa Horne agrees, saying show days form part of a multi-pronged approach in attracting serious buyers. However, many sellers do not like the idea of people, including nosy neighbours, walking through their homes. Furthermore, while many buyers do attend show days, generally they can be “hit and miss”. “On a beautiful day everyone might be at the beach and on a rainy day everyone might stay at home,” Horne says.

With most consumers looking online for property, Adrian Goslett, regional director and chief executive of Re/Max of Southern Africa, says many real estate professionals have stopped using open show days as a marketing tool to sell a home.

While some still see show days as a necessary part of successfully marketing a home, he says others feel the marginal success rate coupled with the security risks are not worthwhile. Both sides of the arguments have their merits and challenges.

“An advantage of having a show day is that the home is visible and accessible to the public, with numerous potential buyers able to view the property on the same day. If a buyer is interested in purchasing a home in an area, they will stop in at a show house to see what is on offer,” says Goslett.

He says other simple traditional but effective methods to market a home are “For Sale” boards, flyers at busy intersections and newspaper advertisements. Many agents have also embraced the marketing power of social media networks to enhance their connectivity to their target audience.

The “For Sale” sign is definitely still producing results, agrees Yael Geffen, chief executive of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty. Although most people now spend a lot of time online and on their mobile devices, they also spend a significant amount of time in their cars.

The mere fact that buyers are often on the road means visual boards are still important marketing tools, she says. “Outdoor boards also work in tandem with technology, especially real estate apps with smart geo location and pop-ups which indicate show houses while you are driving. It’s even possible that your neighbour down the street knows someone who is interested in buying in your area.”

Geffen says she has been receiving reports from agents in Cape Town who say the majority of their recent buyers have emerged from show houses and networking rather than via the internet.

“If tough times call for getting back to basics, agents who are all tech and don’t know old-school client service could well miss the boat on many sales.” 

Geffen says: “Ultimately, having a ‘For Sale’ sign in the front yard is well worth the potential benefits, especially in a busy neighbourhood. Even though we can’t measure their reach, these signs have become emblems of the housing market that people know, recognise and look for when looking to purchase a home.” 

Security is vital on show day

While show days are still viable tools to sell properties, estate agents are coming under increasing risk as criminals take advantage of open homes and vulnerable agents unfamiliar with security protocol.

Theft of property within homes is also more prevalent. Re/Max of Southern Africa’s Adrian Goslett says this is the biggest disadvantage to show days.

“It is not always possible for the agent to keep an eye on everyone looking at the home, which means valuables can be stolen.”

Dogon Property Group recently met with other industry leaders to map the way forward with regards to safety at viewings. “The safety of our agents is of great importance so we need to relook at the traditional model of being on show for two hours without security,” says the group’s Alexa Horne.

Valuable suggestions came out of the meeting, including pre-registering for viewings and providing proof of identification. Lisa Connellan from Knight Frank Residential says agents have to be vigilant on show days and often prefer to have help from an assistant. 


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