Everyone knows that a home needs to look its best before being listed for sale. After all, you do not want your home to be on the market forever, with the price going down whenever the traffic slows and your Realtor® tells you it is time to trim the fat. You want your home to sell fast so that you can move on with your plans. That means you need to do whatever it takes to get buyers in there and get them interested in making an offer.
Chances are you have already done all of the cosmetic things requested by your Realtor®. Maybe you have added a new coat of paint to the interior, spruced up the hardwood floors, or replanted the flower beds. Perhaps you have even done a total remodel job in some rooms, hoping that your investment will pay off when that magical offer comes across the table. Your house looks spiffy, so what could go wrong?
Well, Realtor's will tell you that even if a home is in perfect condition, sellers often get in their way when it comes to selling. Many fail to follow a few simple rules of etiquette that are essential when selling a home, rules that will make buyers feel at home and will have them thinking about your house long after they’ve walked out the front door.
When it is time for showings, leave your home
Many sellers think it is a good idea to meet any prospective buyers that are coming to see their house. It is not! It creates an awkward situation that makes just about everyone uncomfortable. It gets especially weird if you are following them around, offering your input as they make their way from room to room, showing them closets and pointing out your favorite view from the bedroom. It is also weird if you are just standing there in the shadows, thinking you are invisible. Either way, buyers feel like you are spying on them and they also won’t feel free to talk about what they’re seeing.
When your Realtor® calls for an appointment, be sure to make plans to leave the house, even if it is a little bit inconvenient. You do not need to go far. A short drive to the supermarket or even a walk around the neighborhood may give your Realtor® ample time to show the house. If you return and the potential buyer is still there, do not burst in. Politely wait outside until they exit.
And while you are at it, take your pets with you. Nothing can spoil a showing quicker than a nasty pet – or even a friendly, overly-gregarious one. Many people are skittish about being around strange dogs, for example, and they fear attacks or other run-ins with these animals. it is also not fair to your pet as well, who might be frightened or intimidated by humans not familiar to them.
And by all means, if you have an exotic pet in a cage, like a snake, do not leave him around. One look at a snake and many buyers will head to the front door without hesitation. In general, never force your pets on prospective home buyers, even small ones you might think are harmless. For all you know, the person might be allergic to dogs or cats.
Leave listing sheets and other documents out in the open
Most buyers expect to be able to leave your property with something tangible that will help them remember your home. That’s to your advantage as well. So, if your Realtor® gave you “spec sheets” for distribution, place those on a table near the entrance. It gives the prospective buyer and their agent something to talk about from the minute they enter.
You might also consider offering essential documents for a potential buyer to see; home inspection report, utility bills, an appraisal, home warranty papers, proof of major repairs, or anything else that might be of interest to the buyer.
Home sellers should try to be transparent. Do not hide anything that might show your home in a bad light. It is what it is, and buyers will be upset if you are dishonest about any facts that might deter a sale. The more information you give them, the better a home buyer can make an educated decision about your home and whether or not it is the right property for them to buy.
Get your car out of the driveway
You want to make access to your home as convenient as possible. Even if you are going for a walk around the block during showings, move your car out of the driveway so that the showing Realtor® and his clients can park there. It is essential if you live on a street where parking is at a premium and the lack of space may determine whether or not the buyer keeps your home on their list of possibilities. No one wants to walk several blocks to a listing, especially if the weather is unpleasant.
Feed and water them
It is always a good idea to leave a bit of refreshment out for your prospective buyers. Nothing fancy, of course. If it is a hot day, you might leave small bottles of water on the kitchen counter in a bowl of ice with a sign instructing visitors to help themselves. If it is December, Christmas cookies or candy are a nice touch. Again, all of these small touches help buyers to remember your house. (“Oh, the one with the candy canes!”)
Real estate agents do not expect you to accommodate last minute appointments, but if you want to sell your home, you should find ways to be as accommodating as possible. Remember, showing your home is what will ultimately get you an offer, and if you make it difficult to get an appointment, word will get around your agent’s office – and others – that you are uncooperative.
That said if you feel that you have received a lot of unreasonable requests for showings – late nights, early mornings, short notices – talk to your Realtor® about how you can remedy this situation. Inform him of your living situation and let him suggest some showing guidelines that might work for everyone.
Everyone uses lock boxes nowadays, which makes being flexible even easier. As we said before, you do not need to be home to let the agent and buyers into your home. It is better that you are not. So do not give your agent a hard time about using a lock box. They’re safe, and your risk of someone breaking in using a lock box is slim.
Remember, a speedy sale makes for a happy buyer and a delighted real estate agent. Do your best to help your agent do their job and it will be a win-win situation for all involved.