When we list a property for sale, one of the most frequent questions and concerns is how best to coordinate showings for buyers when the seller still lives in the house. If the home is vacant, we simply tell agents that there is a keybox and they can “show anytime”. When the home is still occupied, it presents a greater challenge, since many sellers have understandable concerns about privacy and security, particularly if there are children or pets in the home.
If you are serious about selling your house, do you best to be flexible and allow showings at just about anytime. Our normal recommendation is to have agents “call at least one hour before your showing”. This gives the seller a chance to tidy up, deal with any pets, and leave the home. This also allows agents to show it quickly when they need to.
Buyers in today’s slower real estate market lead busy lives and have far more options than in years past. Putting up unnecessary obstacles may make the difference between having a showing or not, and I am not aware of a home that wouldn’t benefit from an interior showing.
We’ve come across some crazy rules from sellers that have delayed or prevented our buyers from seeing a listed home.
- Showings only with listing agent present – Scheduling a showing with a listing agent can be a major logistical hassle. It also doesn’t allow the buyers to evaluate and speak openly about the home. This makes sense for certain luxury properties due to security issues, but not much else. Allow showings to happen directly with buyers agents via a keybox.
- Owner remains at home – This one is similar to #1. While it can be informative to have a seller present, it is mostly awkward if the sellers remain at home. Buyers want to evaluate the home privately, and many feel constrained when sellers are home. We’ve even had sellers sit in the back yard and wait for us to finish our tour while peeking in the windows to see if we were done.
- Schedule your tour at least a day in advance – At first glance, this sounds OK, but the reality is that many home tours do not come together until shortly before the tour. While buyers frequently schedule a tour in advance, the list of properties they want to see evolves quickly and frequently as they search online, and most times we find that the list of homes is not finalized until the night or morning before the tour. This is not a reflection of an unorganized agent, simply a real-world behavior that we see all of the time from buyers with busy lives.
- Appointment only – This is sometimes necessary if there is a bothersome pet in the home or if you have nap time with children that you cannot avoid. If possible, set a certain time of the day when showings are OK and explain the restriction in your listing. For example, “Weekday showings are OK between 2-4PM due to children’s nap time.”
- Reschedule showings if it is wet or raining – We live in Seattle, so this is crazy talk. If you are concerned about wet shoes, make sure you have booties and “remove your shoes” posted prominently. Also have your agent put it in the agent instructions for the listing. Professional agents will respect your wishes.
If you have concerns or restrictions such as these, talk to your agent about the best strategy for showing your home. When a buyer is only somewhat interested in a property, they will use a variety of reasons to skip seeing a property, whether it is because of bad photos or a poor impression from the exterior. Agents can also be motivated to skip your property if it is hassle to show and they have dozens of others on the list. Just remember, your goal is to get as many buyers as possible INSIDE of your house, where they very well may fall in love with it.