If you have held many open houses, you have probably interacted with people who walk through the property, taking pictures and picking up brochures only to disappear because they are not genuine prospective buyers. They can be a nuisance, but they can also be an opportunity, although this is rare. It is up to you to learn how to deal with lookie-loos so you can make the best of such situations.
What Is a Lookie-Loo?
A lookie-loo is someone that visits an open house or contacts a realtor acting like they want to buy a home but actually have no intention of doing so. Such people have cultivated a habit of touring open houses and reviewing interiors, either for fun or out of curiosity. If you approach a lookie-loo to discuss the property on sale, they will usually make up an excuse or give you the wrong contact information.
Lookie-loos are a natural phenomenon in the real estate industry. It is up to realtors and agents to either prevent them from coming to their open houses or convert them into future buyers.
Regular lookie-loos are easy to spot because they just walk around the property, never asking about the selling price or amenities. That said, it can be difficult to pick these people out from a sea of open house attendees. Here are some signs to help you spot a lookie-loo:
Indecisiveness Lookie-loos that are committed to acting like real buyers will usually try to string you along for weeks, months, or even years. They will sometimes act like they are close to purchasing a home or that they have found their dream property, only to find an excuse why they can’t buy it. If you are not careful, this behavior could lead to a lot of wasted time and resources.
Note: There is an exception to this description for buyers with a tight budget or those looking to purchase a home in an area where homes rarely go on the market.
- Secretive. When conversing with a lookie-loo, they will never share any particular details such as their contact information or their exact interest in the property. Some lookie-loos even call from a different number than their own or block their caller ID.
- Vague Answers. You will mostly get vague answers from prospects who contact you over the internet. If you contact them back in response to their inquiry, they will only respond generally over text and will rarely take your calls. They might even take very long to respond and only give vague answers when they do.
- No Agent. Some lookie-loos are the opposite of the ones who give vague answers. These ‘prospective buyers’ will usually claim to have an agent only to ask all manner of questions about the home. If you inquire about why their agent is not collecting this information for them, they will give some excuse such as not wanting to disturb them.
- Regular Open House Attendance. If you organize open houses in one area regularly, you will soon meet the lookie-loos. They are the ones that attend every open house, ask questions, take pictures, and carry brochures but never buy a home. They will even make a picnic out of it and bring their friends!
Why Many Agents Do Not Welcome Lookie-Loos
Lookie-loos can be frustrating because they usually have no plan to buy a house., which is why many real estate agents consider them a nuisance. This attitude is understandable when you are property in a hot market, and time spent with a lookie-loo might mean a potential buyer goes ignored. However, it is never wise to be rude to lookie-loos, as we will discuss below.
Another reason real estate agents don’t like lookie-loos is that they waste time and resources. They can distract you from seeing potential buyers, updating listings, or sending out emails. Additionally, their presence on the property can contribute to wear and tear dirt, and even breakage. It also doesn’t help when they collect brochures they will only discard.
Turning Lookie-Loos into Future Buyers
As mentioned, it is never advisable to disrespect or dismiss lookie-loos, especially when you are unsure of their intentions. When it comes to real estate, very few people have zero potential of becoming a home buyer or seller or even a referrer. It is crucial that you consider anyone that attends your open house a potential lead. They could want to buy or sell in the future or know someone who does.
Even the most non-committal lookie-loos can be turned into a future buyer or seller if you explain home valuations, market trends, and lending opportunities to them. If you are not busy, you can take some time to hand out your card and brochures and convince the lookie-loos to keep you in mind.
Keeping Lookie-Loos Away from Your Open House
All in all, it is your open house, so it is up to you who you let attend it. If you really don’t want lookie-loos on a property, you can discourage their presence by doing the following:
- Only inviting real estate brokers and agents to your open house. Doing this will ensure only people representing actual potential buyers will be present.
- Reducing the freebies, giveaway merchandise, and snacks. If word spreads that you are not offering such perks, non-serious buyers might stay away from your open house.
- Making your open house an invite-only affair. If you do this, you will have to send out invitations and RSVP cards.
- If the property is high-end, consider arranging open houses by appointment only. This will discourage lookie-loos from showing up because they are unlikely to set up a one-on-one meeting.
- Register your visitors at the entrance of the open house. While most serious buyers won’t mind, lookie-loos will balk at the idea and leave.
If a house is rightly priced and marketed to the target audience, it will usually attract serious potential buyers. It might also attract people who are in it out of curiosity or fun. As a realtor or seller, you never know who is a lookie-loo and who is a prospective buyer – even when the signs are there, it is not safe to assume. This means that you have to treat everyone with respect and learn how to deal with lookie-loos. Work on reducing their access to your property or converting them into future buyers.