Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, June 10, 2016

Twilight Tuesdays offering a new take on open houses

Neal Pratt invented Twilight Tuesdays when he needed to expand when he could open homes to potential buyers.

Keller Williams Realtor Neal Pratt was in a jam: His productivity coach, Marie King, wanted him to do open houses, but he’s busy Sunday afternoons from 2-4 p.m., when agents typically open homes to the public. As a parent responsible for taking care of his kids during that time, Pratt wears his father hat on Sundays, not his Realtor hat. But King wasn’t going to accept “I can’t do open houses” as a response. So Pratt came up with a solution: Twilight Tuesdays.

Each Tuesday, Pratt hosts an open house at one of the approximately 500 listings Keller Williams Realty Downtown currently has. He prepares in advance, finding a house in a highly trafficked area, contacting the listing agent to inquire about opening the home on a Tuesday night, and then posting the event on the Twilight Tuesdays Open Houses page on Facebook.

“I have things to do on Sundays, so maybe some other people work Sundays, or maybe they spend their Sundays on the lake,” Pratt says. “This gives everyone an option.”

Pratt doesn’t stop there. After selecting a site, he visits the neighbors and tells them about the upcoming event. “It gets me in the neighborhoods, boots on the ground, talking to people,” he says.

Other agents undergoing productivity coaching followed suit, allowing even more homes to be open on Tuesday nights.

King was pleased. “As the productivity coach, I’m in charge of helping our new Realtors become productive, so we’re trying to do things differently,” she says. “We don’t want to pigeonhole our agents into doing things only one way; we like creating new things because that in turn creates new opportunities.”

Pratt has taken the Twilight Tuesdays concept further than King anticipated with branded signs and the social media push. “We’re trying to get everyone in our spheres to like the page and broadcast the open houses across Chattanooga,” she says.

King says one of the keys to hosting a successful open house on Tuesday is selecting a home close to a main road. “We’re opening houses that will see plenty of traffic, with maybe one or two directionals,” she says. “We’re not doing 16 turns into a large subdivision.”

The agents doing Twilight Tuesdays have been hosting open houses for over a month, and say people are coming. “Neighbors are stopping by on their way home from work,” Pratt says. “We’re just catching people as they drive by.”

Pratt uses Twilight Tuesdays, and the face-to-face encounters he has during them, strategically. After meeting someone at an open house, he’ll try to do another one at a home in which that person might be interested. Pratt prefers this low-key approach to more aggressive salesmanship. “There are no high pressure sales tactics,” he says. “People are just coming by to look at a house.”

Open houses have been a Sunday afternoon staple for generations of Realtors, but when Pratt became an agent, he saw them as a remnant of the past that has little relevance today. And the statistics seemed to support his skepticism. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), fewer than 5 percent of houses opened to the public are sold to someone who came to the open house. But the NAR also says 65 percent of buyers work with the first or second agent they meet. This turns open houses into job interviews for Realtors, King says.

“A seller might drop in to see what kind of person Neal is,” King says, “and when they talk with him, they’ll see he’s doing things differently. He’s not doing the same ol’, same ol’.”

A fellow Realtor made Pratt a believer in open houses. Aza Wintersieck joined Keller Williams after Pratt, and quickly “capped,” which means he sold enough real estate to begin earning 100 percent commission. When Pratt asked him how he did this, Wintersieck said open houses. “He was going to vacant houses, sticking a sign in the yard, and sitting there until someone showed up. That made me go ‘Hmmm.’ Open houses only felt antiquated because that was the way I was approaching them,” Pratt says.

Now Pratt can’t wait until Tuesday rolls around. And King couldn’t be prouder. “Realtors are entrepreneurial,” she says. “But Neal deserves kudos for not just thinking entrepreneurially, but also acting entrepreneurially. He didn’t just dream this up; he’s doing it.”

Pratt and the other Keller Williams agents doing Twilight Tuesday are planning to host open houses through Oct. 15. To contact Pratt, call (423) 800-2097; to contact Keller Williams Downtown, call (423) 664-1900. 

To see more photos pick up a copy of this week's Hamilton County Herald.