Making your home available for showings is fun. By “fun,” I mean it’s a “Let’s all slam our foot in the car door” kind of fun. At least with the car door, it’s over with pretty quickly. Your showings, however (at least, in theory) come in a continuous stream of kicks and giggles.
Selling your home, unlike other fun stuff (laying your head on the bottom rack of an oven preheated to 450 degrees comes to mind) is a process, not an event. You will establish protocol — what we call, and pardon the technical term, “showing instructions” – and you will expect that agents will follow said protocol like the good little professionals they are. Some will; many others will not.
The bottom line is that you should expect to be inconvenienced. Sure, that time you listed your push mower for sale on Craigslist was fairly painless. Some dude showed up, confirmed it was indeed a lawn grooming device and, after a little good-natured negotiating, whipped out a crisp twenty. People looking to purchase a thing carrying a six-digit price tag tend to go about the process a little differently. And, much as it seems lately that finding and assigning blame for all of life’s disappointments and hassles is the new pink for Spring, not every breach in showing protocol comes at the hands of an ornery and evil third party with a vendetta, intent only on destroying family values.
Accordingly, and in the spirit of sharing, here are a few realities of the showing process sprinkled with a few tips:
1. It is a good idea to leave when your home is being shown. This allows your potential buyers and their agent an opportunity to roll their eyes freely. More importantly, it allows them to have honest dialogue, raising and overcoming objections. They can find the kitchen without your help. Oh, and it helps if you don’t have a big pot of skunk gumbo simmering on the stove when they do.
2. Time-certain appointments are a rarity, but you will get a few of those. And when an agent says they will be there at 3:47 only to show up at 3:46 or 3:49, this is not a signal to report them to their broker or to call your own broker and vent about the impending collapse of modern civilization. Traffic is unpredictable, babysitters arrive late, clients arrive late, and people have to stop for ice when they slam their foot in the car door. Stuff happens.
3. Most people are imperfect. Sometimes, even the best among us screw up. If you ask the showing agent to call you when they leave so you know it’s safe to return, they might forget. It happens, and while it’s hard to forgive such an affront against humanity, it helps to understand and even forgive the occasional oopsie-daisy. You see, the showing agent has his hands full. He is trying to navigate between multiple homes in multiple communities… while talking to his clients about market trends and lending guidelines… while stressing about making his next appointment on time, give or take one lunar cycle, because it turns out his clients fall into the “slow lookers” category… while trying to remember which home he left his cell phone in. This type of multi-tasking is particularly challenging when being serenaded by a crying baby or being pelted from the back seat by Goldfish crackers. Trust me – the showing agent is trying!
4. You will be given showing “windows.” Your home is typically not the only home these buyers will be seeing on their rounds. I routinely have to plan eight- and even twelve-home tours for clients, and predicting “windows” of arrival for each is a precise science like, oh, removing a kidney with a butter knife and a map of the Andes. There are the aforementioned slow lookers, and then there are the speed shoppers. Before the front door is fully opened, these lightening-fast human reenactments of an eight-dimensional scatter diagram will have already viewed the home, the yard, the garage, and will be back in the car fighting over shotgun and the remaining Goldfish crackers. In the meantime, the agent, unaware they have been ditched, is somewhere in the depths of the master bath mumbling to no one something about the delightful Under the Sea motif.
5. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be. It is not necessary to hide the lockbox on the hose bib behind the rose bushes. Or in Detroit. The theory here is that, if your home is listed, you want potential buyers to actually come in. There may be exceptions, but my experience is that people want to see a house before they buy it. Crazy, I know. But, if you accept this, then you should also know that making it difficult to come in is not in your best interest. “Call owner, show with confirmed appointment but only on alternating Tuesdays assuming the Republicans aren’t filibustering, no sign on property, children may be napping, largish Irish Wolfhound may bark because he was recently neutered and is not at all happy with us right now, bring locksmith” – these things just tend to take the wind out of an otherwise perky agent’s sails.
6. People will touch things. When you return home to find that your wedding photo is now facing one millimeter closer to due east, don’t freak out. This is not necessarily an indication that they have been rifling through your sock drawer. It’s going to happen.
7. Occasionally, people with appointments will not show up. And it really isn’t the agent’s fault. Sometimes, clients decide after viewing several homes in a neighborhood that they are no longer interested in living in said neighborhood. Other times, they pull up in front of a home and instantly know that the home is not right. Now, I suppose we could pass a law that required buyers to keep their appointment anyway, just ‘cause they said they would be coming ‘round. We could call it the “Feigning Interest Because the Seller Washed Dishes and Vacuumed When He Would Have Rather Been Watching the Monster Truck Spectacular on ESPN and You Owe Him” law. But then, that just doesn’t make sense. Sure, you as the seller were inconvenienced. Do you want to be inconvenienced even more by someone who has no real interest in buying your home?
8. Occasionally, people will not show and will forget to call you. Rude? Sometimes. In most cases, though, I would refer you to #3 above.
Showing your home is not fun. In fact, you will be hard-pressed to find anyone more sympathetic than I. I see all of these incidents and shenanigans on a daily basis, and I have been a home seller myself. But, as a listing agent, there is only so much I can do to avoid or mitigate the pain of the process.
Selling is a partnership. Your agent will be working their hiney off on your behalf to make the process as stress-free as possible, but sellers too should be prepared to invest in the process, because it is a process.
Next up: Feedback Calls – Selling Musts or Monumental Wastes of Time? (Hint: The latter, even though we do them. Your only meaningful “feedback” is an offer or the absence of one.)