Winter has several weeks yet to go. But in the realm of real estate it’s already spring.  The annual spring home-buying season traditionally kicks off shortly after the Super Bowl.

This means more homes are hitting the market.  We took this opportunity to get an idea of how real estate agents feel about open houses.  When real estate agents were surveyed, more than two thirds of the respondents think open houses are still worthwhile and nearly 70 percent of respondents have sold a home as a result of a connection made at an open house.

When asked about the possibility of virtual tours taking the place of open houses, respondents felt that virtual tours replacing open houses was unlikely because consumers still want their agents to offer open houses.

While some agents love them and others hate them, open house Sunday’s can be an opportunity to interact with the community, make connections, and hopefully sell a property or properties.

Here are a few helpful ways to make the most of your day.

Here’s what you can do to prepare:

Prior to the open house it’s a good idea to send invitations to the neighborhood and to anyone in your sphere of influence that might live in the area.

Next, of course you will want to get the house in tip-top showing-shape.

You’ll want the house looking its best outside and in. Instruct your sellers to trim shrubs, unclutter rooms, shampoo rugs, and add a fresh coat of paint if necessary.  For a few extra tips, try making some fresh-baked cookies for a welcoming scent and advise your sellers to clean absolutely everything.

On the day of the open house, plan to arrive early; turn on all the lights, open the curtains, and have soft, relaxing music playing in the background.

Display signs throughout the house that point to special features: “Look down, hardwood floors”; “Gas fireplace, push this button”; and “Walk-in closet, walk in.” These can help distinguish your listing as well as make it easier for you to engage visitors about certain qualities of the house.

Also pay attention to where you stage your informational packets.

The dining room or kitchen table can be a great spot to capture visitors’ attention with extra information about the listing. Place a variety of items here, such as property details, school information, and community brochures.  Don’t forget to attach a bold label (in 24- to 48-point font) with your contact information on each type of information you provide.

The goal is to get visitors to pause and look at these resources, encourage them to speak with you, and build your credibility as an important resource—not only about the listing, but about the community too.

Always try and welcome your visitors at the door.

The best way to welcome visitors to the open house: Lock the door. Neither you nor the owners want people walking into the house unannounced.  This won’t only ensure you get to talk to everyone who wanders in but it’s also a safety issue.

Try this approach:

Greet people at the door.

Welcome and thank them for coming.

Hand them information on the property.

As they look at the information, talk about a special feature or two in the home that they may want to notice as they go through the property.

Introduce yourself and ask them to fill out an open house register so you’ll have their contact information.  Explain that there is additional information about the listing on the dining room or kitchen table that may be of interest to them.

Instead of telling visitors you’ll give them a call afterwards to follow up, you should use the valuable in-person time at the open house to say what you need to say.

When meeting visitors at open houses, these are the main questions you want them to answer for you:

Are they interested in the property? What other properties may be of interest to them? What are they looking for?

Will they be willing to set up an appointment to talk further with you, or are they interested in viewing additional properties that may be a better fit?

After you’ve allowed visitors to wander through the house on their own, you’ll want to catch up to them and see if they have any questions and gauge what they like or dislike.

And we advise that you always choose your open houses carefully.  We know your time is valuable. Avoid holding an open house just because your seller wants it or another practitioner asks you to. Typically, open houses that garner the most traffic are newer listings, reasonably priced, and easy to access from main roads.

When you invest the time and energy into conducting an open house, you’ll be able to turn them into much more than just a neighbor snoop-fest. Open houses can serve as a dependable flow of leads for your other listings. And who knows, you may just find the perfect buyer for that listing.