Showing Your Home

how best to show your home
There is a knock at the door. It is a real estate agent with a prospective buyer. Are you ready to have a buyer walk through you home. What lights should be turned on? What should be cooking in the kitchen? These and other items are discussed.

 

Page Topics:

  1. before the showing: items needed
  2. what's needed for the showing
  3. agent showing
  4. FSBO showing
  5. the unscheduled knock
  6. getting your home ready checklist

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Before the Showing: Items Needed

1. Your House Book

You need to assemble a complete book (folder or binder) that describes your home.

It should be made available for viewing while buyers tour the home.

The book will contain:

— color photographs of your home,
— legal description of the property,
— before and after pictures of any home remodeling,
— itemized summary of paid utilities bills for the year,
— take-one flyers with property description,
— termite inspection,
— seller notice of condition,
— other required inspections: radon, asbestos, lead paint

Please mark that the book must remain in the home after the tour. Clearly identify those flyers that can be taken during a visit.

 

2. Visitation Log Book

Keep a log book to record the names and phone numbers of buyers / agents that view your home.

This is especially critical for FSBO sellers. You need to record whether the buyer was a walk-in or was brought to you by an agent. You want to avoid disputes with an agent that may claim a finders fee when the actual buyer found your home through your advertising.

Use the log book to call the buyer the next day. Your call might reveal a change that you could make that would interest them to make an offer.

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What's Needed for the Showing

Clean House

  • Your home must be cleaned prior to any showing as outlined in our guide: Fixing Up Your Home for Sale

    Even though you have thoroughly cleaned and prep the home, you must still live in it between showings. Messes will continue, especially if you have children.

    Be prepared at a moment's notice to tidy up and vacant your home so that the agent or other can show it.


  • Suggestions on being prepared:

    — limit bathroom use to 1 bathroom during the day
    — keep a set of clean towels handy
    — have available sanitation wipes to wipe down bath/kitchen
    — have available disposable floor wipes to dust/mop floors

    — see Clorox quick cleanup products: ready mop | cleanup wipes

    — use paper dinnerware for lunch/dinner for immediate discard
    — make sure bedrooms are cleaned early in the morning
    — limit children toy's to 1-2 items that can be easily picked up
    — have vacuums, dusters, etc. available for quick cleanup


  • Make sure your yard and front entrance are tidy.
    Remove any papers and debris that have blown onto the property.

 

Let There Be Light

  • Open all window shades. Let as much sunlight in the home as possible.

    The exception is where a beaming afternoon sun can make a room hot. Simply turn the shades up to filter some of the rays out.

    Turn on your table lamps, especially those lamps that have a prominent position in the room.

    Turn on chandeliers, ceiling lights, and sconces. Again, make every room stand out.

    Turn on your bathroom and basin lights.

    If you have ceiling fans, turn them on at a slow speed.

    Use judgment on the number of lights you switch on. You want to create an lighted atmosphere without over doing it.

 

Make Space

  • Open 1-2 cupboard doors in your kitchen to display the size of the storage space.

    Open the main closets throughout the house. Make sure the closets have been prepared as described in our get the home ready .

    Remove the cars from the garage and park them on the street. You want to display a full garage with ample room to walk around.

 

Protect Yourself

  • Remove any valuables from the premises.

    Store jewelry and other valuable pieces in a safe, hidden place. Agents are trained to screen actual buyers from potential thieves. But they can miss them. Don't invite anyone to take something of value.

 

Create a Nice Atmosphere

  • If the weather is nice, open a couple of windows part way

    allow sounds from the outside in, unless of course your home in next to a throughway.

    Some experts suggest you bake some fresh bread to fill the home with a pleasing smell. Even some suggest leaving a plate of cookies on the counter. Your option. What's more important is a clean, tidy house that is bright, cheery and open.

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Agent Showing

Your agent will schedule all showing appointments.

They should notify you in advance so that you can prepare and vacant the premises.

Be prepared to show your home within 30 minutes, if necessary. Though most agents will give you a timely advance notice.

 

You need to keep your home tidy and presentable while you are still using the home.

That's is tough to do, especially if you have children. Limit your their access to 1-2 toys so that you can pick them up quickly.

Likewise, limit your family's use of a bathroom to one so that the other bathrooms can remain clean. Expect a stressful time during showings.

 

In most circumstances, your agent will have access to an entry key that is maintained in box that hangs from your door.

You should vacate your premises prior to the arrival of prospective buyers. This will allow open discussion between the buyer and agent about what they like and don't like about your home (information you can obtain later from your agent).

If you happen to be at home when the agent arrives, greet the buyer politely, invite them to tour the home as long as they need, and then excuse yourself by going shopping or getting a cup of coffee.

 

When the agent calls to schedule a showing,

remind them to sign the log book that will be placed next to the house book (mostly likely on the kitchen cabinet or dining room table).

Return to your premises only after the agent and buyer have vacated your home. Immediately contact your agent (who will contact the cooperative agent) to discuss the buyer's interest. Sometimes buyers can be persuaded to make an offer if certain changes can be made.

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FSBO Showing

Phone Call from a Buyer:

  • Your first contact with a potential buyer may be by phone.

    Since you are now acting as the agent, you need to screen your buyers.

    First, collect some marketing information to start the conversation:

    — how did they find your home (what media)
    — what attracted them to call for information
    — what are they looking for in a home

    answers to these questions will pinpoint your selling points when showing the house and gauge marketing tactics that work.


  • Next, screen your buyers to avoid showing your home to just anyone (why waste your time).

    Screening questions:

    do they own or rent their current residence:
    find out if there is anything that will prevent them from closing in a timely manner such as the sale of their existing home or their breaking an extended lease
     
    have they viewed other homes that they really liked:
    if yes, then why didn't they buy? their answer could be a sign that they couldn't get financing, etc.
     
    have they been pre-approved for financing:
    if no, they may not have the financing capacity to make the sale
     
    are you working with an agent:
    if yes, then get in writing from their agent the fee arrangement that will be expected — if it is too high, refuse the showing

    also inform the buyer that that the agent must accompany them during the showing
     
    is there anyone else involved in the buying decision:
    this may involve a parent or other who might be making the down payment; they may want to see the house too

  • If the buyer passes your prescreening questions, schedule an appointment.

    Make sure they invite others to join them if other parties are involved with the purchase (i.e., parents).

 

The unscheduled knock:

  • FSBOs are more likely to have the unscheduled knock since you are the selling agent.

    The unscheduled knock will likely come from buyers driving around the neighborhood.

    Unless you ready to show the house (meaning that the bed is made, kitchen is clean, bathroom is spotless, etc.), politely invite them to return at a later time.


  • Screen the unscheduled knock before letting them in.

    Again, use your judgment on whether to invite them in.

    Note that some of the unscheduled knocks (and phone calls) could be a real estate agents trying to convince you that going with an agent will result in a quicker sale at a higher price.

    If you are serious about taking the FSBO route, politely thank them for the visit but that you have decided to stay the course.

 

The House Visit:

  • Since you are the agent, you must act like an agent when showing your home.

    Great your visitors in the front yard, if the weather permits. Point out the nice features of the front yard as you walk to the house.
  • You will start in the entry way,
    walking through each room and ending up in the dining room or kitchen when you can sit comfortably to address questions.

    As you walk through each room, act like a professional. Don't say, "...this is the kitchen." They will know that. Instead, point out things in the kitchen that are selling points.

    Example (as you enter the kitchen area): "Let me point out this bar cabinet that we installed when we purchased the home, see how much more room it provides ..."

    You need to point out the selling features as you view each room.
  • Don't dominate the conversation.

    Highlight features of the home and then remain silent as the buyer views, opens doors and asks questions.

    Probe the buyer's interest. Find out what they like or don't like about a particular room. They may tell you they don't like the carpet in the family room. So invite to pick the type of carpet they would like and you will have it installed as part of the price of the home.
  • Be cautious.

    Though most buyers are legitimate, there are the few who have requested a visit for alternative reasons.

    Hide your valuables. Remove antiques and anything of high worth and store them in a safe, hidden place.

    At the end of the tour, ask the buyers what it would take to prepare an offer on your house today.

    Step5: see contract negotiations

 

Be Ready to Act:

  • If an agent was showing the house,
    they would bring with them contract forms, earnest money instructions, several pens to write with, and all other "stuff" to execute a contract while in the house.

    You must do the same. Have ready all contracts and other forms that the buyer can sign while in the home. And don't forget to have several pens available (in the event one of them fails).

    Step5: contract negotiations / legal steps
  • Don't forget to get their name and phone number before they leave.

    This allows you to follow-up the next day to probe their interest further if they couldn't make an offer.

    Also see to it that they take a flyer with your address and phone number.

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The Unscheduled Knock

You may get a buyer or two who unexpectedly knocks on your door to view the premises.

They will claim to be passing by when they noticed your yard sign.

Your yard sign should clearly state "By Appointment Only". That does not keep people from knocking, but it does give you the excuse to request the buyer to schedule an appointment through your agent.

Have plenty of agent business cards available. You can easily hand one to a potential buyer.

Also have available your flyer that lists the facts about the home.

 

Be your own judge on whether to show the house or not when someone knocks.

If no, make some excuse that you must run an errand and will be unable to show the house at this time. Invite them to contact your agent on the business card.

If yes, limit their tour to the outer perimeters of the house. Invite them to view the back yard, side yard, and perhaps the garage. Then instruct them to contact your agent for an inside tour.

 

Understand that there are legitimate buyers and not-so-legitimate buyers.

Unfortunately there are prowlers who mask themselves as buyers with the intent is to scout your home for valuables.

Play it safe. Invite them to contact your agent. If they are serious about your home, they won't mind returning with a scheduled appointment.

 

FSBOs are more likely to have the unscheduled knock since you are the selling agent.

The unscheduled knock will likely come from buyers driving around the neighborhood.

Unless you ready to show the house (meaning that the bed is made, kitchen is clean, bathroom is spotless, etc.), politely invite them to return at a later time.

 

Screen the unscheduled knock before letting them in.

Again, use your judgment on whether to invite them in.

Note that some of the unscheduled knocks (and phone calls) could be a real estate agents trying to convince you that going with an agent will result in a quicker sale at a higher price.

If you are serious about taking the FSBO route, politely thank them for the visit but that you have decided to stay the course.

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