So you’re putting your house on the market, and you’re not really sure what it will be like to live in a home that is for sale. Here are some guidelines I give to my clients, I call it “What to expect when you’re showing”.
When you’re on the market:
PEEPING TOM, AND MARY, AND JANE: Don’t be alarmed if someone is parked in front of your home or drives by several times. It means they are thinking about buying it! If they are peering over the fence or walking in your yard, it’s fine to step outside and suggest they contact an agent to arrange a private showing. They should respect your space, and it’s OK to let them know that is your expectation. Luckily, most people are respectful.
NOTICE: Most of the time you will have at least an hour’s notice before someone comes to see the house. But you may occasionally get last minute requests to show the home. Murphy’s law ensures that someone will want to come… now… as soon as you have declared your day is done, changed into your PJs and settled on the couch to start watching a movie. It is always up to you to accept or decline appointment requests.
And remember, even with the best laid plans, things change, and people could show up a bit early or late, or may even need to reschedule. Sometimes, you may even just have a “no show”, which can be very frustrating, but your agent should be checking scheduled showings and comparing them to key registrations and feedback received so you should know who has been in the house and if there was a no show, why.
You and your agent should discuss what showing restrictions are necessary, and how you will be contacted to be made aware that someone wants to come see the house. For many reasons, not the least of which is safety, never show the house yourself to strangers.
CONVERSATIONS: If engaged in a conversation by a neighbor, agent or prospective buyer, keep the discussion brief and matter of fact, and refer any agents or buyers with questions to your agent.
SHOES: Most people do not automatically remove shoes when they enter homes. The condition of the property and the suggestions at the home can change that, though. If you want people to remove their shoes or use the little booties, please make sure there is a sign asking them to do that. Regardless, make sure there is a door mat (especially on rainy or snowy days) at the front door. This will minimize the dirt and such that gets tracked into the home.
WHAT THEY WILL TOUCH: Expect people to touch the things that are part of the house. They will look in closets, medicine cabinets, appliances and cabinets. Doing this is a good “buying” signal, it means they are interested. Delicates or other highly personal items left in these spaces can make for embarrassing moments, so it’s best to make sure these spaces are properly staged as well. On the other hand, visitors should not be touching personal items or furniture, so there’s no need to stage the inside of your dresser.
I always caution my sellers to be sure anything that might be tempting be kept out of sight. This means tempting because someone might want to steal it (think jewelery, small collectibles or prescriptions), or might be extra curious (think collectibles, instruments, unusual machinery and children’s toys), and mess with your treasures. Most crimes are crimes of opportunity, so by keeping things out of sight and out of mind, you signficiantly reduce your risks of being victim of these types of theft, or of having your items damaged.
Also… kids almost always find other children’s toys irresistible. If you are a collector of antique toys, this can be a very bad thing, so consider making sure toys are not in the reach of children. As for ACTUAL kids toys, use your judgement about whether or not it is bothersome to you if another child picks up little Jimmy’s cars or plays with the ball in the playroom. If you do not want a child to touch these things, they should be put up and not left on display. Children DO come with their parents to shop for homes.
BATHROOMS: Consider designating a bathroom for “emergencies” because people can have urgent needs when looking at homes, and by designating a bathroom and by giving permission to visitors to use a certain restroom, I have found they will be respectful and not use your other bathrooms.
DOORS: Agents should double check exterior doors to ensure they’re locked, but inevitably at some point, someone will leave your door unlocked after a showing, so always double check them when you get home. If you have a tricky, tough to close/lock kind of door, warn buyers and agents with a little note at the door, and ask them to double check it before leaving.
BUSINESS CARDS: Agents should leave business cards after they show, but if someone forgets, it doesn’t mean the agent hasn’t been to the property. We generally find out when we contact the agent for feedback following the showing, but if needed, we can physically come and “read” the box to find out if they did indeed show the house.
For more information, like how many showings YOU should expect and how frequently, as well as how long your home will have to be on the market, your listing agent should be able to give you some estimation. If you are interested in a personalized proposal, let me know. I am happy to learn more about your situation and put a full sales plan into place for you.
Vicky Chrisner, Fieldstone Real Estate
Selling homes and land in Loudoun & the Dulles Area