Open House Drawing
If you want to get philosophical, Open Houses are their own microcosm within real estate marketing. They have their own conversion funnel with distinct tactics to attract visitors and convert them into leads that feed your real estate business. So it’s a funnel within a funnel (mind blown ✔).
And the “conversion” event that agents are aiming for during Open Houses is getting people to sign-in so you can engage them further – which includes assessing their interest in the property, as well as, addressing their real estate needs over a longer period.
But getting visitors to sign-in is often a challenge which is why offering a tangible incentive is a common theme in our extensive Open House ideas guide. And the hands down best incentive is the Open House drawing, which is often referred to as a “raffle”.
It attracts home buyer engagement with a mix of anticipation and fun…and by engagement we mean signing-in at your Open House in order to potentially win a prize.
Below we’ll cover the “why” and the “how” of holding an Open House drawing and if you want to skip ahead here’s a handy table of content:
- Why should agents run an Open House drawing?
- How to Conduct an Open House Raffle
- The Best Prize for an Open House Drawing
- Legal Considerations when Running a Open House Drawing
Why should agents run an Open House drawing?
In a perfect world, agents can hold an Open House and the following comes automagically:
- attract every interested, qualified buyer to make time in their schedule to attend the Open House (and no one shows up at the very end when you’re packing up)
- every attendee is enters their exact contact info into your Open House sign-in because they are SO excited to learn more about the property and potentially work with you as their agent
- by midnight over-asking offers arrive from every visitor
Now obviously that’s not the real world. When it comes to solving #2, agents can often encounter a variety of difficult visitor personas when it comes time to get people to share their info on the Open House Sign-in:
- The Bandit: This visitor will wait until the moment you’re preoccupied and run into the home evading you forever. Some times they will even slip out through an open window to avoid confrontation.
- The Faker: They’ll pause at the sign-in registry and pretend to fill out their info. Then they’ll continue on into the home. Sometimes they may even channel their inner bandit, and after pretending to enter their info they’ll sneak into the property…never to be seen again.
- The Mickey Mouse: this person (mouse?) may not even be a home buyer. They just have an amazing sense of humor that they need to share with the world. They enter their info into your sign-in as Mickey Mouse. Or sometimes Bugs Bunny.
- The Grump: This visitor (usually the prickly father of one of the home buyers) is adamant in their refusal to enter any info in the Open House sign-in. They’d rather leave, than respect the home owner’s requirement that anyone who enters the property sign-in.
Now this is why an Open House drawing is sometimes what the agent needs to convince some of these visitors to sign-in to their Open House. It may not convince 100% of “grumps” but it’ll help a lot. Not only in getting more visitor sign-ins, but also, getting more accurate info because people understand that they’ll need to provide a legit email or phone number to collect the prize.
How to Conduct an Open House Raffle
Let’s get into the process of conducting an open house drawing seamlessly and legally.
Raise Awareness for the Raffle
If a drawing happens and no one knew they were participating…did it matter? The answer to this philosophical question is NO. You want to make sure people know that there’s a possibility to win something by visiting your Open House. The giveaway should be mentioned in your marketing before the Open House and should be emphasized further for all visitors so they know how to participate.
Get Visitors to Participate
Remember, your Open House drawing isn’t just about showering your visitors with gifts. It’s so you gather as much buyer interest as possible (for this property and others). So pick an effective tool to gather data such as names, emails, and phone numbers like Curb Hero.
The Raffle Process
The raffle process itself should be straightforward and transparent. A digital sign-in makes capturing participants’ info much easier…and the easier it is for visitors to participate, the more entries you’ll receive. So if using a sign-in like Curb Hero, also consider using QR Codes as well as the standard on-screen sign-in.
When it comes to selecting the winner, here are some options to consider assuming you’ve used a digital sign-in to collect the participants info:
Use Curb Hero’s drawing process. This feature is currently in beta, but you can sign-up here. Curb Hero will handle the entire process which includes:
- removing fake/test entries
- picking a winner at random
- texting the winner a digital gift card that can be used at dozens of stores and restaurants
- notifying you who the winner was
Use Zapier to select a winner at random: this is a good way to run an Open House drawing that will give you a balance of automation and customization. Some technical skills are required though.
- You can start with Curb Hero’s Zap or trigger the Zap automation in other ways (ex: emailing the list of participants OR in a csv attachment).
- Once you have all the participants in Zapier, use Zapier’s formatter step to pick a participant’s record at random
- Then send that participant their prize!
Use a spreadsheet to select a winner at random: it’s a manual process but, is pretty straightforward if you’ve used spreadsheets before.
- Export the participants data to a spreadsheet
- Then add a new column to the sheet and include a randomization function in that column. For example in Excel or Google Sheets put the function
=RAND()in all cells in that new column.
- Then sort the sheet based on this new column (effectively randomizing the list).
- The top record is your randomly selected winner!
Note: Explaining the selection of winners should also be clear-cut, without a hint of bias. This helps maintain the fun and fairness of your open house drawing.
The Best Prize for an Open House Drawing
When designing your Open House drawing, the prize should be well thought out…so it not only entices potential participants with something of value, doesn’t go against your brand as a real estate professional, and doesn’t break any rules and regulations.
Digital Gift Cards as Top Prizes
In the ever-evolving digital era, digital gift cards have emerged as an ideal top prize, combining both convenience and flexibility. They can be a universal passport to an array of shopping, gastronomy, entertainment, or wellness outlets, offering something for everyone. Compared to physical items, they are easier to distribute, saving you time on logistics. They also work perfectly with the trend of ‘phygital’ life we are embracing nowadays, making your open house drawing a little less ‘blah’ and adding more ‘voila’!
Other Open House Raffle Prize Ideas
While the convenience of a digital gift card is tough to argue… there are other prize options to consider:
- home décor items: These not only cater to a wide range of interests but also subtly align with the theme of a home buying event
- discount vouchers for local businesses: Subtly highlight local attractions to prospective buyers AND create collaborations with other local businesses.
- Your crafts and creations: Anything you create will have a much more personal feel AND show off a skill that is memorable to prospective clients.
If you’re stuck on what to giveaway, focus on your audience. Review the demographic profile for home buyers in this market and then zero in on the most appealing incentives. One definite guardrail that we’ll cover is the prize value. Be careful not to giveaway a prize valued above the threshold for IRS reporting ($600 or more) because you’ll be responsible for handling this which adds overhead to this entire process.
Legal Considerations when Running a Open House Drawing
From a legal standpoint, an Open House drawing is a Sweepstakes which means it’s based on chance* with winners chosen randomly. They must not include consideration (like a purchase) for entry.
*IF there’s skill involved this becomes a contest which has different legal implications
- Understanding the Difference Between Lotteries, Contests, and Sweepstakes:
- Lotteries: Illegal unless state-sanctioned. Requires avoiding three elements – prize, chance, and consideration – to not be deemed an illegal lottery.
- Contests: Involve skill, not chance, with winners determined by a panel based on set criteria. Examples include photo, essay, or recipe contests.
- Sweepstakes: Based on chance with winners chosen randomly. They must not include consideration (like a purchase) for entry.
- State Laws and Regulations:
- Colorado: Sweepstakes sent via direct mail are subject to strict regulations, including the requirement to include all official rules and disclosures within the mail content.
- Florida: Sweepstakes with a total prize value exceeding $5,000 must be both bonded and registered at least seven days before they begin. Organizers are also obligated to maintain a list of winners and provide it upon request.
- New York: Mirroring Florida’s regulations, sweepstakes with prizes totaling over $5,000 need to be registered and bonded before commencement, and a list of winners must be made available.
- Rhode Island: Sweepstakes occurring or advertised in retail settings with prizes over $500 must be registered before starting.
- Tennessee: Sweepstakes that necessitate winners to agree to publicity releases are not allowed.
- IRS Reporting Obligations:
- Prizes valued at $600 or more require the sponsor to issue an IRS 1099-Misc form to both the winner and the IRS.
- Sponsors must inform winners of their tax responsibilities and obtain necessary information (like Social Security numbers) for tax reporting.
- Official Rules for Sweepstakes and Contests:
- Must be clear and unambiguous, serving as a contract between the sponsor and participants.
- Should include key elements like “No purchase necessary,” eligibility criteria, entry methods, prize descriptions, winner determination process, and odds of winning.
In conclusion, incorporating Open House drawing into your listing playbook is a definite way to boost engagement and create more buzz for your Open House. And why settle for the ordinary when you can elevate your Open House events to extraordinary with just a little added effort?
So if you want to transform your next Open House into a hub of engagement, try adding a drawing into the mix.