Has Previewing Homes Gone by the Wayside?

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty

Has Previewing Homes Gone by the Wayside?

Preview HomesI recently read a comment whereby a member said that they didn't preview homes (there was one exception).  But it just made me wonder if previewing homes has gone by the wayside.

I know that when gas prices topped the $3.00/per gallon mark, agents drastically reduced or cut out all together, the practice of previewing homes. At the time, the hope was that they would resume the practice once gas prices went back down. But of course that was before they knew gas prices were never going back down.

When I first started as a real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty in 2006, one of the first things my Team Leader told me was to peruse the MLS and start calling up agents to preview properties.  She said if you are going to work with buyers, you are going to have to know the inventory and that's just what I did.

Many agents never did resume the practice of previewing homes because they wanted to save time and money.  But it seems to me, that you can save more time and money by previewing properties.  I mean, let's say that you are contacted by a new buyer. That new buyer tells you what he/she is looking for xxx,  xxx and xxx.  If you have been previewing homes, there is a good chance that you'll be able to say, "You know, I think I have the perfect home for you."  It may or may not work out, but you also may gain some credibility with the buyer giving them assurances that's you know your market and that's the kind of agent they need.

On the other hand how embarrassing is it to show homes to a buyer and time after time you are embarrassed upon arrival that this house was even on your list?

If you are a homebuyer, don't forget to ask your agent if they preview homes before showing to you.

If your are a real estate agent reading this post, do you steel preview hopes?  Why or why not? How many rundown houses to you view with your buyers before a light bulb goes off suggesting that you "just might want to preview a few homes before taking your buyer to view?

Rundown House


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Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

I am a strong believer in previewing;  oftentimes, while the prospective buyer thinks they can find all they want online, they don't know everything and may not have even considered a property that turns out to be exactly right for them.  

Mar 13, 2013 12:50 AM #4
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hi Charita - it's not only a good way to keep and stay aware for buyers but the knowledge gleaned from previewing and showing(and selling) properties is helpful on a listing appointment too.   MLS photos/virtual tours only go so far.  I find there are many agents who find it a waste of their time -- that's good for me!

Mar 13, 2013 12:52 AM #5
David Grbich
Realty One Group - www.FindCARealEstate.com - San Juan Capistrano, CA
Orange County Real Estate - 949-500-0484

Hi Clarita - in our market there are so few homes available that when a good home comes on the market there is rarely time to preview - they get prescreened online and shown if they have potential. Offers submitted day 1 or risk a missed opportunity. Higher end homes are completely different and there is usually an opportunity to preview. Regards Dave

Mar 13, 2013 01:27 AM #6
Dick Greenberg
New Paradigm Partners LLC - Fort Collins, CO
Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate

Hi Charita - For us, it kind of depends on where we are in the process of finding a home for our buyers. Early on, we're going to preview less and show more, so that we can see our buyers' reactions to a variety of different home characteristics. Once we've dialed in on what they're looking for, we feel better about making some judgments on their behalf, by ruling out homes that we're sure won't fit. And sometimes, it doesn't take a preview to make that call.

Mar 13, 2013 01:35 AM #7
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Franklin, MA
Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team

Hi Charita....how can an agent sell what an agent has not seen???  it's hit or miss.... eventually the buyer knows the agent is not knowledgeable about the selection of homes....

Mar 13, 2013 01:55 AM #8
Jennifer Prestwich
Henderson, Thornton, Broomfield and Westminster - Henderson, CO
Madison & Co Properties

I do everything that I can to preview homes, Charita, but in my market, things are going under contract very quickly. If I'm not able to see a home on the first day, it is often "too late" to preview it!

That said, my buyers also know that they need to be first in line, so they understand that we both may be seeing a home for the first time when we meet.

Mar 13, 2013 02:03 AM #9
Charita Cadenhead
Keller Williams Realty - Birmingham, AL
Serving Jefferson and Shelby Counties (Alabama)

Kevin I rarely work with that kind of buyer whereby I just sit back until they need me.  Locally, I guess that would be considered a transaction broker relationship (unless I'm misunderstanding something).

Bill,  I can understand chasing keys and I often wonder whether seller is aware of those type situations.  I know that sellers are aware of the homes that are not easily accessed because that need to change the lock so that we don't have to slide the key in 3/4 the way and then turn it to the left, then to the right and back to the left and give it a giggle and then try to open it.

Bruce I am wondering if most buyers know that there is such a thing as previewing.

Susan if I guessed, I'd say that that's a practice that you've carried with you through the years.  There are some practices that are worth holding on to and I'd say that you picked a good one.

Michael I believe in the practice in previewing.  It doesn't always happen and there are circumstances that either get in the way such as time or other factors.  But it's just one of those practices that I'd have a hard time knocking no matter how hard I tried.

David I guess that I am so used to seeing deceptive photos (intentional or unintentional) that I am of the opinion that I never trust what I see online until I see it for myself. Make so mistake, I am not saying that I preview without exception, but even with that being said, I still don't trust our MLS photos to be the best representation of a property.

Dick I'm inclined to see the reverse as being beneficial (a thorough buyer consultation, preview homes, show homes), but if I preview and show and have missed the more then we'll view together so that I can get a better grasp.

Barbara I just can't argue with you there.  Even if I never previewed a single home, I still can't downplay a good practice.

I understand Jen and ultimately if it's okay with the buyer, it's okay with us.  But like you, if given a choice....


Mar 13, 2013 09:02 AM #10
Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

Charita. I usually don't have the time to preview because our buyers are so last minute in giving us notice to show. Like they call and want to go right then, so you find a few surprises.

Mar 13, 2013 12:41 PM #11
Charita Cadenhead
Keller Williams Realty - Birmingham, AL
Serving Jefferson and Shelby Counties (Alabama)

Hi Debbie.  It makes sense when buyers call and want to see a particular property.  But what I am taking about is a property that you discover and want you buyer to view it, in which case there could or may be time for a preview.

Mar 13, 2013 09:01 PM #12
Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA

Agents who don't sit Open Houses need to use those events in order to preview homes available in their area....they can then say....I've been in that house to clients.

Mar 13, 2013 09:12 PM #13
Dagny Eason
Dagny's Real Estate - Wilton, CT
Fairfield County CT, CDPE Homes For Sale and Condo

Charita - It is a must if you do a lot of listings - that's the only way to know the solds and the active competition!

Mar 13, 2013 09:56 PM #14
Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

Charita, it depends on the price range, in my area, I ALWAYS have buyers ready to buy homes priced under $130,000 so as soon as they hit the MLS, I'm there! I do make it a point to preview as much as I am able to, in all honesty, not all homes are ready to preview for different reasons and listing agents make sure of that!

Mar 13, 2013 10:34 PM #15
Clark Cook
1st Choice Realty of Fayetteville, LLC - Fayetteville, NC
Marketing Homes For Sale In Fayetteville NC Area

Thanks for sharing, Charita! This is such a timely post. I agree previewing is something that we all should do to be better agents. Most of the time I find myself relying on the photos in the MLS rather than actually previewing, but again going out beforehand is best!

Mar 13, 2013 10:45 PM #16
Charita Cadenhead
Keller Williams Realty - Birmingham, AL
Serving Jefferson and Shelby Counties (Alabama)

Wallace,  both you and Dagny make very good arguments in support of previewing.

Beth our time is so stretched as it is, we have to make choices based on what we know about or market.  Even for those that preview regularly, sometimes lack of time is a factor.  Other times we recognize a hot property in a hot area at an attractive price and therefore I think we can forego a preview. But yes, I totally get you.

Clark Cook.  First let me say that I'm glad you dropped in.  Clark you are probably in the majority (relying on MLS), but I also think that you got it right when you say "going out beforehand is best!"


Mar 14, 2013 12:08 AM #17
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

I've previewed and will preview but it has to be the right set up.  Maybe a relocation buyer, or investor.  If a buyer doens't want to see a particular property, but I have a feeling it's one to see, I might preview to see if it's one to see.  Good topic!

Mar 14, 2013 04:13 AM #18
Charita Cadenhead
Keller Williams Realty - Birmingham, AL
Serving Jefferson and Shelby Counties (Alabama)

Carla because investors check out so many properties, our local investors are very good about driving by several properties that they think they might be interested in and then calling us when they have narrowed down the list.  As a matter of fact, they usually tell us that that is the way that works best for them.

As for relocation buyers, previewing is an absolute must.

Mar 14, 2013 04:22 AM #19
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

A lot of it depends on the client and on the market.  Many clients come to me with a list of homes they want to see and I do not generaly preview.  I will pull some other homes that I think might work better.  Sometimes I have clients that do not even view the homes, they have me view them for them and go on what I reccomend. In this market there are so few homes that we cannot really pick and choose.  Even showing an ugly home can help.  If the client picks it they learn to trust my guidance more.  In general it just shows them where the market is at.

Mar 15, 2013 02:16 AM #20
Charita Cadenhead
Keller Williams Realty - Birmingham, AL
Serving Jefferson and Shelby Counties (Alabama)

" If the client picks it they learn to trust my guidance more.  "  Gene isn't that the way it always is and it works to help them to help them better.

Mar 15, 2013 03:06 AM #21
Sondra Meyer:
Star View Real Estate - Colorado Springs, CO
See It. Experience It. Live It.

Hi Charita,

I prefer to preview homes for the exact reasons that you mention.   When I was working in Texas, it was a lot easier than it is here in Colorado because our Board had homes on tour for REALTORS every Tuesday.  We did Bryan one week, College Station the next.    It was nice because you didn't have to make an appointment.  We just showed up in the appropriate time slot.   Granted, we frequently bribed people to come see our new listings with lunch or drawings. 

I miss those tours. 


Mar 15, 2013 01:22 PM #22
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Charita, depends on the price range with me. In the lower ranges, there are just too many. But if someone is coming in from out of town, we definitely make an effort to preview them. And I love Open Houses in my neighborhood for keeping current. Sharon

Mar 19, 2013 06:01 AM #23
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Charita Cadenhead

Serving Jefferson and Shelby Counties (Alabama)
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