The persistently sluggish economy is forcing property agents to take more creative approaches to the run-of-the-mill open house. Recent marketing events in the Memphis, Tenn., area reflect the lengths sales associates are willing to go to in order to attract attention to their listings. Some have partnered with other practitioners to host festive open houses featuring Christmas music and refreshments. This tag-team approach to marketing multiple properties was effective for Crye-Leike agents Vicki Gandee and Carmen Brown.

This can be done with several sales associates in the same subdivision, and sell the subdivision as well as the home, says Gandee. This type thing brings the neighbors out as well, and they love to talk about their neighborhoods to potential buyers.

Individual sales associates, too, are stepping up their marketing strategies. I tell you this, they remember my open houses, declares Signature Realty affiliate broker Larry Ohrberg, who promoted new homes in the Trinity Park neighborhood with a barbeque lunch, drawings for cash and prizes, and even an appearance by Santa Claus. Another of Ohrberg's more spectacular open houses was built around a 10-acre mini-ranch in Olive Branch.

To market the property, he invited fellow brokers to participate in hay rides, giveaways, and other activities. It didn't sell the house, Ohrberg concedes, but we did have a lot of people there. Now when I have an open house, they come. Other agents are taking the open house to the next level as well.

Briscoe Ellett of Weichert, REALTORS®, Benchmark, for example, helped stage a martini open house for a home on Mud Island. The concept was designed to give downtown workers a sample of the lifestyle they could enjoy by buying a home close to their jobs. A social way to get the exposure for people in the home, is how Ellett described the function. Something outside the box and enjoyable. Formerly a mechanical engineer, Ellett says he has realized that success in real estate sales hinges in part on being creative. If you do things the same way, you get the same old results, he notes.

Source: Memphis (Tenn.) Commercial Appeal, Tom Bailey, Jr. (12/16/09)