4 Tips On Basic Showing Etiquette For Sellers

Real Estate Agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices

Ready to sell your Salt Lake City luxury home, Draper 2story, Sandy rambler, Herriman ranch, South Jordan townhome, Holladay luxury estate? Putting your house on the market will most definitely invite a disruption and inconvenience for your life and that of your family, as well as a multitude of varying opinions, including criticism.

You will have Realtors and their buyers show up at the wrong time. They will ask you questions you were not prepared to answer. Buyers or their children will accidentally knock over a plant or something of more value. The Realtor will accidentally let your cat out or lock the garage door that you don't have a key for.

I can attest that these things happen because my clients and I have done all of these things and other agents and their buyers have done these things and more to my listings. Although not intentional, it happens.  This can be aggravating, it WILL be aggravating.  Expect it. Plan for it. But, whatever you do... DO NOT get angry at the buyers and their agents. It just might be those buyers, with their Realtor help, that will write an offer on your home.  And, especially in this market, you can't afford to burn bridges.


Here are some basic tips for showing etiquette that will help you survive the selling process:

1) A Realtor and their buyers are late for a scheduled appointment:

THIS IS GOING TO HAPPEN! Unless the agent is several hours late without notice, or you have some kind of emergency, just grin and bear it. Agents do their best to schedule showings and sometimes we'll be early and sometimes we will be late for a multitude of reasons. For your own sanity, leave the house a half hour before the showing and plan not to come back for a half hour after the showing. Whatever you do, don't cop an attitude with the agent or buyers. You never know, they could have been caught behind a traffic accident or simply had a difficult time getting into the last home, both of which are out of their control.

2) A Realtor or their client cause damage to your property:

Accidents happen. So, if you have something of value that you don't want to risk damage to - remove it from your home and place it in storage to protect it.  Otherwise, know anything in the home is at risk. Unless the agent or buyer was grossly negligent and it caused significant damage, just let it go.

In regards to pets, it’s best to keep them in a secure location, like a crate. Assume buyers are going to want to see every room of the house before they buy it, including closets. Doors will get opened and will get left opened. So, keep your pets locked up or remove them from the house altogether.

3) A Realtor and their buyers show up without an appointment:

This doesn't happen often but, occasionally, you will have a Realtor and their buyer show up with having made a previous appointment.  Maybe the Realtor was showing in the neighborhood and drove by your home (they didn't make an appointment at your home because it didn't match certain specifications that the buyer had requested) and the buyer LOVED the looks of your home and really wanted to see it.  In this market, you can't afford to miss a potential showing to a ready and eager buyer.  Even though, it's extremely difficult, have your home ready at a moments notice at all times, if possible.

Ask the Realtor for a business card so your Realtor can get feedback from them later.  If possible, have the Realtor use your lockbox so their information is stored.  If you absolutely cannot accommodate the showing, be courteous and ask them to please, please reschedule.

4) You insist on being present during all showing:

It is always best to leave your home for a showing.  This allows the buyer to feel comfortable in really looking at every aspect of your home and it will be difficult for them to visualize themselves living in the home if you are present. 

However, if you insist on being present or you simply can't leave for a particular showing, it’s best to only speak when spoken to. If you are asked questions, be direct with your answers and certainly be courteous.  If you have nothing to say that will help sell the house, say nothing. Don't follow a buyer around your home, allow the Realtor to take them through.  A buyer needs to feel like they can speak candidly about your home.  Don't be offended if you hear something negative... remember how many homes you saw prior to finding the right one.

Bottom line... it is not easy opening your doors and letting people into your home but, if you can prepare yourself ahead of time with these tips, it will make it a bit less painful.





Comments (27)

Tracy McPeek
Cottonwood, CA

I agree with Jeanne, I don't think I would ask a client to accomadate an agent that didn't make an appointment.  I wonder what everyone else thinks.  The other tips are always very good advice, thank you for the reminders. 

Mar 17, 2011 08:51 AM
Ben Balsbaugh
PMZ Real Estate - Modesto, CA

I think we should send this to all of the agent population. A fine lesson on how to communicate BEFORE an issue arises. Nice work, you are obviously a great communicator. Just reading this, I can hear your wonderful tone...and I have never heard you speak :)

Mar 17, 2011 08:52 AM
Tni LeBlanc, RealtorĀ®, J.D.
Mint Properties, Lic. #01871795 - Santa Maria, CA
Tenacious Tni (805) 878-9879

Very true and very smart.  How you treat that buyer's agent matters.  If a home has a reputation of being difficult to show buyers agents will avoid it or not make an attempt on the spur of the moment.  Not what you want the more exposure the better.

Mar 17, 2011 08:55 AM
Britney Elizondo
Keller Williams Realty - Dallas, TX
Your Dallas Home Buying Specialist :: 940.453.5308

Great blog, Linda, and GREAT advice!!!  Sellers think they're helping not realizing they are in fact hurting the sell of their home!

Mar 17, 2011 08:57 AM
Nancy Conner
Olympia, WA
Olympia/Thurston County WA

This should be a must read for all sellers as it lays out some of the things that will probably happen that they won't be happy about - but are just part of the deal when you are selling your house.  Being prepared always beats unhappy surprises!

Mar 17, 2011 09:05 AM
Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth

Linda, without an appointment is uncalled for when they request an appointment. Talk about not being able to follow directions! Call ahead and beg for the appointment if that is the only time you can get there but don't violate the guidelines.

Mar 17, 2011 10:28 AM
Brett Butler
Linda Secrist and Associates (Prudential) - Draper, UT

Great advice... I am sure you have some great stories to go with all this advice..LOL

Mar 17, 2011 12:22 PM
Brett Butler
Linda Secrist and Associates (Prudential) - Draper, UT

  a feature to go with today's awards. NICE!!

Mar 17, 2011 12:24 PM
Michele Myers
Prudential Homesale Services Group - Harrisburg, PA
Harrisburg/Hershey Realtor

Nice post.  You really captured some of the problems that sellers experience and provided some very good comments.  Thanks for sharing.

Mar 17, 2011 12:27 PM
Joy Daniels
Joy Daniels Real Estate Group, Ltd. - Harrisburg, PA

Wow - thank you for the language to use in problems that really seem to upset sellers!

Mar 17, 2011 01:11 PM
Barbara Altieri
Better Homes and Gardens RE Shore and Country Properties - Shelton, CT
REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale

Linda -- Things do happen, so it is important for sellers to be prepared and coached when their house is listed for things they might expect.  Under no circumstances should they let anyone in without a showing appt. made through the listing agent or office.

Mar 17, 2011 01:24 PM
Mark Montross
Catamount Realty Group - Burlington, VT
Listing and Buyer Specialist

Great tips. I may develop a checklist of different scenarios for sellers based on this. Thank you for the idea.

Mar 17, 2011 02:59 PM
Michael Dagner
Brokers Guild Classic - Denver, CO
Your Denver Homes Realty Expert

Hi Linda,

Very good tips.  I'd also remind the seller who chooses to be present for showing, to be cautious about what information they volunteer to the buyers, or their agent.  Loose lips sink ships.

Mar 17, 2011 03:32 PM
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Linda - This is a great list of tips for sellers. It's especially important that sellers not be there for showings.  Buyers need to feel comfortable.

Mar 17, 2011 04:31 PM
Eric Michael
Remerica Integrity, RealtorsĀ®, Northville, MI - Livonia, MI
Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519

Hi Linda, all of the points you make are totally valid. Buyers won't talk things out if the homeowner is there, following them around. Makes them uncomfortable.

Mar 18, 2011 05:16 AM
Donna Foerster
HomeSmart Realty Group - Parker, CO
Metro Denver Real Estate Assistant

Good advice Linda!  Especially #4.  I've had sellers who chose not to leave and they gave away too much information to the potential buyer and their agent.  That buyer ended up making an offer and asked for $$$ that the seller had mentioned that he would spend to finish the bathroom makeover that they started.

Mar 20, 2011 05:44 AM
Rosemary Brooks
BMC Real Estate - 209-910-3706 - Stockton, CA
The Mother & Daughter Realty Team

The absolute worse is to show up without an appointment.  How rude!!

Feb 13, 2013 01:37 PM
Pete Xavier
Investments to Luxury - Pacific Palisades, CA
Outstanding Agent Referrals-Nationwide
Seen this re-blogged by Michael Dagner, Timeless advice, I agree with the above as one should not arrive without an appointment.
Feb 13, 2013 01:59 PM
Christina Sanchez Hood
Palo Alto, CA
#SiliconValleyHOODS | Inspired Living

Very smart tips!  Thanks for the polite and gentle reminders about showing etiquette for sellers.

Feb 13, 2013 02:07 PM
Mike Warren
Real Estate - Colorado Springs, CO

Good post. Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips. Best of luck to you!

Feb 13, 2013 05:27 PM