You prepared your home for sale and allowed the photographer to come in and take photos. Your agent put together the listing, reviewed it with you and put it in MLS. There is a sign on your yard and your home is showing up on all the major home search sites. Now there is nothing left for you to do except sit back and wait for offers to come. Or is there?
Believe it or not, some properties have not sold due to buyer agents being unable to show the home. Here are some tips for you to keep in mind as you are selling.
Buyers come from all different places and have various schedules in terms of their availability. If buyers are moving into the area from elsewhere, they may have very limited time to search for homes. If they have a high pressure job that requires constant long days of work, they may not know they are free until the last minute. For example, a buyer might only be able to look at houses from 12-3pm on a Saturday, or from 5-6pm on a Wednesday. They plan to look at their top choices during those time slots and then decide on which home they want make an offer. This is important because if they can't get into your home when they are available, they will in most instances never be back.
In order to make sure you are able to show your home to any qualified buyer who wants to see it, it must be available as often as possible with as little required notice as needed. This doesn't mean there won't be times when you just have to say no (someone is ill, for example) but in general, buyers should be able to see your home when they want to, even if it is a bit inconvenient for you. So when the house is almost ready to go on the market, discuss access with your real estate professional. You may get buyer requests every day of the week, and almost any time of the day. If there are any times that truly won't work, your agent should know up front so expectations can be set appropriately.
Unfortunately, your work isn't done when the house goes on the market. When buyers want to see your home, it needs to be ready to "wow" them. The garbage cans should be cleaned, bathrooms spic-n-span, toilet lids down, lights on, toys put away, dishes cleaned from sink and dish drain, beds made, and on and on. The best thing to do while waiting for an offer is to keep your house as "show ready" as possible all the time. Discuss with your family who does what when a request for an appointment is received. Kids can help by having a bin to place all their loose toys in. Someone else can grab the vacuum for a quick cleaning of the carpets. Extra kitchen appliances can be put in a cabinet. You get the idea!
You should not stay in the house when people are looking at it. If you are concerned about strangers around your valuables, hide any you are concerned about and let the experienced buyer agents walk their clients around. If you stay, buyers will typically rush through the showing. They can't openly discuss what they like or dislike, or what they might change if they move in. And if for some reason you aren't happy about selling your home, buyers can feel that! Trust me. I showed a house to buyers once, and the seller stood outside the window with his arms crossed, glaring into the window. Oh my. One of the quickest showings ever! And the buyers were not interested in making an offer.
You should also leave for showings because you might inadvertently say something that could hurt your negotiation power. For example, the buyers seem nice and friendly, so you start chatting. And you let them know you are relocating and have to be out by next month. Well, now the buyers know a lower priced offer with a quick close date might work. Or you might share other information about your motivation, the price you paid, work you personally did in the home which should have been done by a contractor, the crazy neighbors, or a myriad of things that could either cancel any possibility of a sale, or result in a lower price.
The People Factor:
Most of the time buyer appointments go off without a hitch. The agent and buyers treat your home with respect. They come on time, take off their shoes, leave everything as they find it, and all is well. But sometimes the people factor can make the sale process frustrating. For example, someone had an appointment to come see your home between 12-1pm, so you leave the house before noon. At 1pm, you drive back home and see cars still in the driveway. They don't leave for another 25 minutes and your schedule is impacted for the rest of the day. Or perhaps you clean the house, get it ready for the showing, leave, come back and then find out they never showed up. Maybe they use the bathroom and don't flush or they drop something down the toilet. Perhaps they ignore the note about not wearing shoes in the house and there is dirt on the floor. There is nothing to do about these issues except be aware they may happen and try to remember that not all people do the right thing. But they might love the house and make an offer! So have a glass of wine with dinner or whatever it takes to unwind, and remember it's just the people factor at work.
Your home has to be easy for real estate agents to show. Follow your listing agent's advice regarding this, since every area may use a different method. But in general, there should be a lockbox quickly found on your property. The lockbox should work easily, and there should always be a key inside. And the lock on the door should work seamlessly. This might sound self-explanatory, but there are many times I arrived at a home with buyer clients in tow and we could not get in to see the house. The lockbox wasn't anywhere to be found, it wouldn't open, the key was missing or broken or the key wouldn't open the door.
Also, in terms of physical access, access to the home should be free of obstacles. If it's wintertime and it snowed, the path should be shoveled. If you have a driveway, there should be room for several cars to park. There should be no tripping hazards between the road and your home. Make it as simple as possible to get to the door!
After actually putting your home on the market, the next step is to get buyers inside. Or more specifically, to get "THE" buyer inside. In order to do that, it's critical that sellers stay on top of the process. Keep your home in show-ready condition. Allow showings when buyers want them. Provide simple and clear access to your home. Get out of the house while they are there. If you do those things, you will have greatly improved your chances of getting your home sold quickly!
If you need help in the Monroe or Orange County NY area, feel free to contact me (Kat) at 914-419-0270 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published at thehousekat.com.