Must Do (and Do Nots) of Showing Your Home

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Your home is on the market. You’ve created a solid marketing plan, spread the word via the Internet, organized a showing schedule and now buyers will be coming to see for themselves. How you conduct your showings and open houses can have a major impact on how quickly you sell your home as well as the price you are able to fetch.

As you await your first buyer visit, review our list and create an action plan for showings and open houses.

DO…
• Pay attention to appearances. You and your home should be neat and tidy (no sweatpants, please).
• Be upbeat. If you give off signs that showing your home is drudgery it will tend to dampen a buyer’s enthusiasm for your place.
• Have a plan for how you will show your home. Practice the order you’ll show all the areas of your house and how you’ll describe them – but be flexible if a visitor wants to move about the house in a different order.
• Anticipate buyer questions. You should get a lot of them. You’ll look uncertain about the merits of your home if you stumble through answers. Answer with facts rather than opinions. For example, if your local district or schools have won awards point them out. (ForSaleByOwner.com has links to sources of information on schools as well as crime statistics.)
• Know your home’s vital stats and be prepared to prove them. Have property tax, gas, electric and water bills available for buyers to inspect.
• Review our safety tips for home showings.
• Open the shades and turn on the lights (even during the day) for a showing. In general, you’ll want to make sure everything is light and bright, but also let common sense be your guide. If the lights in your kitchen can be as bright as an operating room, you might want to bring them down a bit.
• Put valuables, jewelry, passports, financial information, bank statements and other financial information out of sight. The same goes for medications. Tour through the house to detect and correct any tripping hazards and other impediments.
• Offer light refreshments: bottled water, lemonade or iced tea, cookies or brownies (without nuts).
• Plan to find out if each visitor is pre-qualified for a mortgage loan.
• Show the buyers supporting documentation on the property such as the disclosure statement and homeowner association documents and suggest they pick up copies on their way out. Have a copy of the survey available in case they ask about lot lines.
• Have extra property flyers printed that they can take home with them.

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DON’T…
• Wear sweatpants (did we say that already?)
• Let your pets interact with potential buyers. Some may love it while it will be a major turn-off for others. Don’t take that chance. If you are unable to have your pets off the property, consider crating them. Then they won’t be in the way and there won’t be a chance that someone will inadvertently let them out the door.
• Have children in the house. Arrange to have them out of the house with enough time to put away their toys and accessories.
• Let surprise visitors throw you off. Decide ahead of time whether you will accept last minute requests to visit without an appointment and what you will say if the situation comes up. For you own well-being, don’t change your mind in the heat of the moment.
• Go overboard with scented candles or other aromatherapy products. The scent might be appealing but it can also be a turnoff to some buyers. And there is a risk they will think you are trying to cover up something.
• Leave clean laundry piled in the laundry room, or dirty laundry overflowing hampers.
• Let buyers know if you are under any duress to sell or have a tight deadline. Letting that information slip could invite a lowball offer.
• Leave shrubs untrimmed, grass uncut, leaves unraked or snow unshoveled. Outside distractions could sway buyers’ opinions about your home.

Add your own do and don’ts based on showings you’ve attended in the past and ask friends and relatives what they would add to the list. Make adjustments based on your experiences as you move through the process. The more comprehensive and experience-based your list, the better.