Despite the fact that most sellers have undoubtedly been counseled by their Realtors to leave during showings, a large number of sellers choose to remain.
After a recent, painful, house-viewing excursion with some home buyers on a search for Chico CA real estate, I feel the need to approach the situation head-on.
You seem, Mr. and Mrs. Home Seller, to not comprehend how detrimental your very presence is to the sale of your property. If you fully understood the repercussions, I am certain that you would work with the Realtors, not against them.
For most home buyers, your being in the house makes for an uncomfortable showing. It’s hard for a buyer to freely explore a property and excitedly converse with family members when you are hanging on their every word and following their every move. Buyers may not feel that they can discuss the negatives of the house, for fear of insulting you. Similarly, they may not want to display too much enthusiasm, because a poker face is an important aspect when negotiating, and they don’t want you to think they LOVE your house. Lastly, they don’t feel they can roam at will to discover all the house has to offer. Many buyers are so conscientious about your overhearing them, they refuse to discuss their thoughts until we have made it safely into the car!
Although you think you’re being helpful by providing us with a running commentary and guided tour, you are shooting yourself in the foot! More often than not, the things you find fascinating and important hold very little interest to the buyer. They don’t want to hear about how your mother’s uncle suggested you put the laundry room near the kitchen, but you, in your infinite wisdom opted to put it near the bedrooms instead. They also don’t want to hear about your special tupperware drawer, your cat’s litter box problem, or your weight issues after switching your thyroid medication. As a seller, you might be saying to yourself, I NEVER get in the way… I only point out the positive factors that will help sell my house! Yeah… ok. I have endured endless “showings” of Chico property performed by well-meaning sellers and it’s a rare situation indeed that a seller doesn’t deter from the task at hand.
Keep in mind that the buyer is trying to picture himself in the house, along with his furniture, his family, and his activities. Professional home stagers will encourage a seller to remove all items such as family photos, excess furniture, and clutter to facilitate the buyer’s bonding with the property. The goal is to remove the distractions so that the buyer can figure out how he can make the space his own. The focus should be the bones of the house, not on YOU! By attending the showing, you defeat the very purpose of “staging” the house for sale, and many buyers will resent the disruption.
Real life examples!
1. I recently accompanied a buyer on a showing in which the seller was the tour guide. The woman was bright, bubbly, and extraordinarily full of personality– a true pleasure to meet. We got to hear all about her children, her cooking abilities, her extended family, the history of the building of the house, and her hobbies. When we finally made it back to the car, both the buyer and myself were at a complete loss as to the details of the house. Did it have granite? Where was the 3rd bathroom? Did we actually see the bonus room?? We had no idea, but we could tell you how many kids she had, and what her husband did for a living.
2. A home was advertised as being a 4 bedroom, 3 bath property. After nearly an hour listening to the seller expound on the virtues of the home, we were finally shown the “4th bedroom” which was actually a room so small that you couldn’t fit a twin size bed in there. Considering the buyer had a very strict need for 4 functional bedrooms, the house wasn’t appropriate. Instead of discovering the flaw within the first 2 minutes, we were forced to endure an hour of meaningless banter. The buyer was so infuriated that she refused to even consider the minor remodel possibilities of the home which would have rendered the house functional for her family.
3. I once showed a house during which time the sellers planted themselves on the porch with cocktails and appetizers. The home was so small they were able to monitor our visit every step of the way. Upon exiting the house, they cleverly (or so they thought) addressed every concern the buyer had mentioned while in the house. The problem was that my buyer was extraordinarily unusual in every sense of the word. He had very eccentric views on relationships, politics, and day to day living. The sellers managed to offend him several times over as they chattered on thinking that they were coming across as charming and informative. Despite the fact that the house was a perfect fit for him, he left the property focused instead on how much he disliked the current owners. Shortsighted, on the buyer’s part, I know. However, having spent an inordinate amount of time with that particular buyer, I had learned to avoid his hot spots and feel strongly that I could have sold him that house had the sellers not unwittingly killed the deal for themselves.
Sellers, please keep in mind that you chose to list your home with a professional Realtor rather than trying to sell the house yourself. You must allow the Realtor to do the job! Try to remember that most of us sell properties full time, to earn a living. We put a great deal of time and effort into learning the art of marketing and negotiating real estate. We want to sell your house!
Most importantly, as the buyer’s agent, we have the advantage of knowing the client’s particular interests, needs, and deficiencies, and can therefore appeal to them more effectively than you can.
If you have important details that the average Realtor or buyer will not recognize upon viewing the property, there are very effective ways to provide the information without being intrusive or distracting.
Leave photographs of your home taken throughout the seasons. Is your home breathtaking in the fall or spring? Do you have an amazing garden? SHOW US with pictures.
Leave notecards or flyers on pedastals or attached to doorways to explain special features, materials, warranties, or interesting history about the room or area.
Work with your listing agent to compile a binder with all sorts of interesting facts, inspections, pictures of floor plans, or anything else that you would like to share. Leave it in a place that invites the visitors to peruse it.
If only, Mr. and Mrs. Seller, you could please LEAVE, we could do a better job of selling your house!
P.S. That doesn’t mean exiting the house as we are trying to enter. I know you’re dying to see what the new buyers look like, and you just want to say “hi”, and you just have a couple of things you want to share with us that are really important, and you just want to offer us iced tea and cookies, and you’re just trying to be welcoming… but please leave BEFORE we get there!!
P.S.S. If you don’t want to give your potential buyers the heebie-jeebies, don’t sit in the car or across the street in your neighbor’s living room watching us with binoculars. You might think you’re being sneaky, but we can see or feel you there, and the overall effect is not a good one!
This particular post sparked quite a reaction from my fellow Real Estate Professionals. SELLERS, if you weren’t already buying my opinion, please peruse the thoughts of over 70 other Realtors by clicking here!