Guide to Showing Your Home

Guide to Showing Your Home

When you show your home, you want to engage the buyer emotionally because the decision to buy is usually based more on emotions then on logic. Give the buyer a reason to say, “I want to buy this home,” by accentuating your home’s positive features and not drawing any attention to the negative ones.

THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP WHEN SELLING YOUR HOME
Your home needs to be ready and available to show at all times. The only way to sell your house is to show it. Many sellers make the mistake of thinking that buyers will work around their schedule of showing times but that’s usually not the case. Any restrictions of showing times will result in fewer buyers which could result in a lower price, a longer time on the market or both. Sure, it’s inconvenient but you never know when your buyer is going to walk through your door.

Consider using a Lockbox on your home.  If you have ShowingTime setup, we can set it up so that when an agent schedules a showing and that showing is confirmed by you, the agent will be given your lockbox code. Lockboxes make it easy to show your home even when you are at work or away. You can’t sell your home if it’s not available for showings. You never know when your buyer is going to walk through your door and you don’t want to miss them. Go to to order a Lockbox.

HAVING A SELLER PRESENT DURING A SHOWING IS ALMOST ALWAYS A BAD IDEA
If a potential buyer has an agent, their agent will show your home to their buyer. If your buyer doesn’t have an agent, it will be up to you to show your home. The best thing you can do either way is leave. If you are showing the home yourself, greet the potential buyer at the door and let them look freely through the house while you wait outside. Let them know that you will be right outside if they have any questions. If an agent is showing your home and you have a lockbox, leave before they get there. If you don’t have a lockbox, greet the agent and buyer at the door to let them in, then leave.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR THE SELLER NOT TO BE PRESENT DURING A SHOWING?

  • The Seller’s Presence Will Make the Buyer Feel Awkard
    A buyer needs to feel as comfortable as possible when looking at a potential new home. It’s a big investment, and they should feel welcome to open closets, look in cabinets, look behind the couch, or put their ears up to the walls. A serious buyer of a property needs to do whatever they can to learn about the home. In the presence of a seller, the buyer may feel like a guest in a stranger’s home, a patron at a museum, or something in between. They spend too much time being cautious and not enough time really delving into the property. When a buyer doesn’t feel completely comfortable to explore, they may miss the best features of a property. Or they might not give the home a fair chance. This means a missed opportunity for both the buyer and the seller.
  • Sellers Tend to Talk Too Much
    Some sellers feel like it’s their duty to walk the buyers and agents through the house and point out every single feature, finish and upgrade. Honesty is always the best policy, of course. But don’t forget that this is a “sales” process, and that less is usually more. Without even realizing it sellers can give away information that gives the buyer the upper hand in negotiations or could scare a buyer away altogether. “I see you looking at the fireplace, I built it all by myself” may not be a good thing for the buyer to hear.  Or let’s say a potential buyer asks the seller about the neighbors. “Oh, we love our neighbors!,” the seller answers. “They drop by our house all the time and we do the same. They’ve got high school kids, too, who are a lot of fun. It’s one big, constant block party!” While some might like this idea, others who value their privacy will be turned off. Or a buyer is looking at the seller’s 3 year old’s room and makes a comment about the color of the walls.  The seller’s 3 year old hears this and says “I picked that color out myself after the flood”. The buyer is thinking “What flood???” because there was no mention of a flood on the disclosures. You just never know what the buyer is looking for.
  • Sellers Can Get Hurt Feelings Which Can Cost Them Money
    A seller may experience hurt feelings from questions or comments that a buyer might ask. This could lead to a negotiation that starts off on a bad note. For example, a buyer touring a home with dark colored walls, floors and heavy window coverings may ask his agent what it would cost to refinish the floors and paint the place. The seller, who preferred the dark is insulted by the questions and immediately goes on the defensive. When the offer comes in, the seller can’t help but respond with their emotions and refuse to negotiate with the buyer.

OTHER TIPS FOR SHOWING YOUR HOME

The Gracious Welcome

  • Although the buyer is a guest in your home, you want the buyer to imagine owning the home. You don’t want to make the buyer feel like an intruder.
  • Don’t expect the buyer to remove their shoes, unless you are selling to a buyer for whom religious or cultural reasons mandate it. Otherwise the presumption might be insulting.
  • Leave the house. The buyer won’t talk about the house in front of you or open doors with you standing there.
  • Don’t pressure or hurry the buyer. Tell the buyer to take all the time that is needed.
  • Leave a bowl of wrapped candy or other treats near the front door with a small note thanking the buyer for coming to see your home.

Keep Your House Clean & Tidy

  • All rooms should be clean including the kitchen and bathrooms.
  • Close toilet lids.
  • Make sure all beds are made.
  • Keep the yard mowed and/or leaves raked up.
  • Put away any outdoor tools, bikes and toys.

Check the Room Temperature

  • Now is not the time to worry about your utility bill. If it’s cold enough to wear a sweater to stay warm, turn on the heat. Don’t make buyers shiver or wish they could roll up in your rug for warmth.
  • If it’s warm outside, turn on the air conditioning. It’s better to heat or cool the house a degree or two warmer / colder than usual and then set the temperature at normal. This prevents the heat or A/C from kicking on when the buyer is present, because some HVAC systems are loud.
  • You want the temperature inside to be comfortable and to give the buyer more of a reason to linger, especially on hot or cold days!

Create a Mood

  • Light a fire in the fireplace if it’s a chilly day.
  • Turn on soft music to set the mood.
  • If you have water fountains, turn them on. They are especially useful for drowning out traffic noise or the neighbors next door.

Play Down the Scent

  • Many people are allergic to certain scents so don’t spray heavy perfumes or scents. Besides, many buyers will wonder what you are trying to cover up. A nice neutral scented candle or plug in is fine just don’t overdo it.
  • If weather permits, open the windows unless there is too much noise outside.
  • If you’re going to bake cookies or simmer spices such as cinnamon in water on the stove, put out munchies so buyers aren’t disappointed. More than one buyer has said, “Oh, darn, I thought there were cookies in here!”

Play Up the Visual

  • If you have seasonal photographs showcasing flower gardens, leaves bursting in color or a snow-covered lawn twinkling from street lights, then display them in a prominent position.
  • Open all the window coverings to let in light.
  • Keep blinds partially closed that otherwise show undesirable outdoor scenery such as a dilapidated fence or a nearby structure that obstructs views.

Light Up the House

  • Turn on every light in the house, including appliance lights and closet lights.
  • Brighten dark rooms with few windows by placing spot lights on the floor behind furniture.
  • For evening showings, turn on all outdoor lights.

Conceal the Critters.

  • Not only should you not be home during a showing but neither should your pets. If you absolutely can’t take your pets out of your home, put them in cages or crates preferably out of the way in the garage or basement.
  • Many people have allergies or deep fears of cats or dogs and walking into a house with one or the other can put a buyer in panic mode.
  • No buyer wants to have a strange dog jump up on them as soon as they walk in the door.
  • Make sure the litter box is clean at all times and move it into the garage or basement if possible.
  • Keep your home free of pet hair on the floors and furniture.
  • As much as you love your pets, you have to be mindful that not all buyers are dog or cat people.

Put Away Your Valuables & Personal Items

  • Put all personal mail and bills away. You don’t want a buyer to see a “past due” notice sitting on your dining room table.
  • Don’t leave money, credit cards or jewelry out in the open.
  • Put away prescription medications.

Provide Thoughtful Cards

  • Attach printed cards to items and in rooms that provide further information the buyer might miss or might not know. You have so little time to make an impression.
  • If you have an antique chandelier in your dining room, put a card on it that discloses its age and other important details.
  • If you have removed the washer and dryer from the laundry room, attach a card to the wall describing the room.
  • If your basement stairs are steep, attach a card to the railing that cautions buyers to watch their step.
  • Don’t overdo it. No buyer wants to see post its and cards everywhere all over the house, it’s too distracting.

Top It Off With Food

  • The best way to entice buyers to linger and notice even more details about your home is to offer them food. You don’t need to cater a lunch, but finger sandwiches, cookies, soft drinks, water, desserts, all are welcome. Buyers who are nibbling on snacks are not that eager to leave and might notice more of what your home has to offer.
  • Set out serving utensils, if needed.
  • Provide plates, cups and napkins. They can be paper products.
  • Make sure a trash can is in clear site for their waste.

Encourage Buyer Feedback

  • Near the snacks, leave pens and a stack of pre-printed questionnaire cards or a guest book to sign.
  • Buyers may very likely feel obligated to respond to your request after being fed.
  • The showing feedback you receive will be invaluable.
  • Allow buyer anonymity.

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