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Tips For Showing Your Home For Sale By Owner

Your home is on the market. You’ve created a solid marketing plan, spread the word online and organized a house showing schedule. Now buyers will come to see your home for themselves.

How you conduct your showings and open houses can have a major impact on how quickly you sell your home, not to mention the price you’re able to fetch. Check out these simple house showing tips for sellers so you make a strong first impression on potential buyers.

Do: Stage Your Home

If you want to know how to show a house, start by making sure the house is clean, neat and free of clutter, inside and out. Pack up the things you won’t need until after your move, including family photos and personal belongings. These can serve as distractions for potential buyers when their focus should be on your home’s best features.

However, don’t just shove things into closets or the garage – remember that buyers will look in those spaces, too. Overflowing closets give potential buyers the idea that your home doesn’t have enough storage room. Worst case scenario, you can store bulky items in the trunk of your car temporarily or neatly to the side of your garage.

Plus, buyers want to imagine themselves living in your home, and any signs that someone else is living there can make it more difficult for potential buyers to envision their own belongings in the space.

If your home has bold decor choices – such as brightly-painted walls or cabinets – you might want to neutralize them before placing your home for sale. Remember that while your bold choices may appeal to a particular person’s style, neutral choices are unlikely to offend or put off any buyer. Even though paint is easy to change, many people won’t look past it.

Also, open the shades and turn on the lights, even during the day. In general, 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.

Don’t: Skimp On Heating Or Cooling

Make sure your home is a comfortable temperature. A home that’s too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter will have potential buyers questioning the integrity of the insulation, windows and HVAC systems. Plus, if a home is uncomfortable, buyers are less likely to stick around for long. Don’t let it feel uncomfortable just so you can save a few bucks on your electric bill.

Do: Pay Attention To Curb Appeal

Outside, touch up your landscaping if needed. Rake the leaves, mow the lawn, trim the bushes and add a few potted flowers for some color. It’s also a good idea to brighten up the exterior of your house. Add a fresh doormat and use a damp rag to quickly wipe any dirt or debris off your front doorstep.

Clean the windows and power wash the brick or siding so your home looks sharp the moment someone pulls into your driveway. If you have a deck or patio, make sure it’s clean and inviting. Remove covers from any outdoor furniture or grill and position them to face the house’s back door.

Don’t: Go Overboard With Cleaning

Unless your home hasn’t been cleaned in months, you shouldn’t need to remove all your furniture and hire a team of professionals to scrub it from floor to ceiling. The goal isn’t to turn back the clock and make your home appear brand-new. This can get expensive and likely won’t net you a positive return on investment.

Our sense of smell can be as influential as what we see, so you should avoid cooking any fish or spicy foods before a home showing and take out the garbage. But resist the urge to light a ten-pack of scented candles. What smells nice to one buyer might not to another, and someone walking through clouds of lavender vanilla or fresh cut roses might think you’re trying to cover up something foul.

Do: Prepare To Answer Questions About Your Home

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. Try to answer with facts rather than opinions. If someone asks about upgrades, be ready to talk who did the work and when it was completed. Know things like how old the furnace and AC units are. Have property tax, gas, electric and water bills available for buyers to inspect.

You should also be able to talk about the surrounding area at your home showing. Instead of saying you live in a good school district or a safe neighborhood, know objective school and safety ratings. Point out awards that local schools have won. Do some research on nearby shops, restaurants and parks so you can speak to the perks a home buyer can’t see during their visit.

Don’t: Reveal Too Much About Your Situation

Try to educate home buyers about your home – not your personal circumstances. Even small details can give buyers leverage. If you let someone know you’re moving because you’re starting a new job in a month, they’ll know you’re under a tight deadline to sell and might float you a low-ball offer.

You don’t need to lie if a buyer asks about why you’re moving. Just explain that it’s time for you to start a new chapter, keep your answers vague and return the conversation to the home as quickly as you can.

Do: Practice Your Home Tour Routine

Have a plan for your home showing ahead of time. 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 or even asks if they can explore on their own.

Make a list of the highlights of your home – including any upgrades like cosmetic or energy efficient updates – and make sure to highlight those. Practice explaining these updates and answering common questions about your home so you appear professional and knowledgeable.

Don’t: Follow Buyers Around Your Home

As a rule of thumb, try to minimize your presence as buyers look things over. Most people want their space as they imagine living in a new home and feel uncomfortable if a homeowner is pressuring them to move from room to room. Let buyers enter each room first and resist the urge to sell them on your home’s features unless you’re asked a question.

Do: Schedule Open Houses For Weekends

Cleaning and getting your home perfect for each showing can get exhausting. So, holding an open house at one specific primetime is a great way to get the most bang out of your clean house.

Saturday and Sundays between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. are the most typical times for open houses and home tours. Having your home ready and available during these optimal times is key to maximizing the number of people who can tour your home.

However, be flexible for other showing times as well. Most buyers try to schedule multiple showings in a row on one day. If your home is unavailable, they’ll just skip over to the next home. Try to be available as much as possible.

Don’t: Let Surprise Visitors Throw You Off

One of the best ways to get the maximum number of house tours is to be as flexible as possible with tour times. This isn’t too hard to do for one weekend or even a week or two, but it can get old over time. If you have small kids, pets or work from home, vacating at the drop of a hat can be even more logistically complicated.

Decide ahead of time whether you’ll accept last minute requests to visit without an appointment and what you’ll say if the situation comes up. For your own well-being, don’t change your mind in the heat of the moment.

What you don’t want is for a potential buyer to stroll through while you have dirty laundry piled up or family members going about their lives, which can come across as unprofessional and turn off a buyer who may have otherwise made an offer.

Do: Have Handouts And Refreshments

Show copies of the disclosure statement, property survey and homeowners association documents to potential buyers and suggest they pick up copies on their way out. It’s also a good idea to have property flyers printed that they can take home with them. Flyers are a great way to stay top of mind with potential buyers as they consider which home to make an offer on. Consider these tips on how to create a great house for sale by owner flyer.

It’s also a nice touch to have light refreshments available. Think bottled water, lemonade or iced tea to go with some cookies or brownies (without nuts).

Don’t: Have Pets Around

Some may love being greeted by a golden retriever, but it could be a major turn-off for others. There are also liability issues. While your dog or cat may be well-behaved, it’s not worth the risk to have an animal roaming around the home during a home showing.

Arrange for your pets to be out of the house with enough time to put away their toys and accessories. If you can’t find anyone to take care of your pet, the next best option is to keep them in a contained space and let the buyer know of its presence ahead of time.

If you do have pets, take the time to clean up after them thoroughly. Put away their food bowls, toy boxes and beds. Scoop any litter box or pick up poop in the yard. You don’t want to lie and call your house pet-free if it’s not, but you definitely don’t want to put off potential buyers who don’t like animals.

Do: Take Safety Precautions

You should make sure that at least one other person will be present with you during showings – it’s never a good idea to meet with a stranger alone and out of public view. In addition, let your neighbors know that you’ll be showing your home, so they can be on the lookout for anything unusual. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Additionally, if you want to be cautious about health safety, provide hand sanitizer or shoe coverings for your potential buyers, then wipe down surfaces with disinfectant wipes when they are gone.

Don’t: Leave Valuables Out

Be sure to put jewelry, passports, bank statements and other financial information out of sight. The same goes for medications. Even if it’s unlikely that a visitor will swipe something while you’re around, it’s best not to advertise any valuables in your home. Also, don’t forget to shut off and password-protect your phones, computers or devices.

Do: Get Feedback from Visitors to Improve

One of the most important house showing tips is to get more house showing tips from your audience. When buyers visit your home, try to keep notes of their name (or their buyer’s agent name), phone number, email address and the showing date. If you don’t hear from the buyer within a day or two, send out an email asking for their overall impression of the home, how it compares to other homes they’ve seen and what they liked and didn’t like.

The best way to make your home more appealing to buyers is to hear from buyers themselves. Sending an email, as opposed to asking in person, will make it easier to get honest answers. You don’t need to act on every comment or suggestion, but if you see a trend in what people are saying, you can take steps to improve your home and generate better offers in the future.

For more tips on showing your home like a pro, check out our six step guide to showing your home.

Checklist FAQs Marketing Virtual Agent

15 Things to Check Off Your Showing a Home For Sale To Do List

Showing your home is crucial to a home sale, but it takes some work to get it right. From preparing your home with a thorough cleaning to collecting feedback from house hunters after the viewing, you’ll want to have a plan in place from the start. Give yourself the edge and follow this printable checklist to guide you through the process of getting your home ready to show to home buyers.

Before Your Showing

Stage, declutter and fix.

Clean, clean, clean.

Create a showing schedule that offers flexibility to buyers and works for you.

Prepare answers to buyers’ questions about your house, neighborhood, school district and other pertinent facts.

Make sure your home looks great from the outside. Curb appeal is important.

Create a safety and security plan before visitors arrive.

Once You Have a Showing Scheduled

Assemble a packet for the buyer including a color copy of your listing flyer, disclosure statement, survey, most recent property tax bill, utility bills and school district report card (if available).

Have light, season-appropriate refreshments on hand.

During the showing, you’ll accompany the buyer at all times. Practice letting the visitor dictate how the tour proceeds, and what you’ll say about each room, but be prepared to lead if the buyer prefers that.

Put away your valuables.

Clean again. Pay extra attention to floors and carpets, windows, counter tops, and smells.

Ask the buyer for a letter of pre-qualification or, better yet, pre-approval from a lender.

After Your Showing

Send the buyer a thank you email and ask if there are any questions.

Use our anonymous Buyer Feedback tool to instantly find out what the buyer thought of your home.

Put that feedback to work by making changes.


The Best Lessons Learned from Real Estate Mistakes

One of the perks of selling your own home is the autonomy to make all of the decisions. Of course, with that power comes risk. But even in cases of potentially bad strategies or choices, the buck still stops with you. And when the strategies work out, well, you get to bask in all the success.

That’s a lesson that Gloria Menendez learned — eventually. Menendez sold three houses in her life — the first two with a real estate agent and the third on her own. In hindsight, she says she should have learned her lesson sooner.

“I got some bad advice the first two times that I think cost me time and money,” says Menendez, who lives in Dayton, Ohio. “When it came time to sell my house, which I did last fall, I pretty much became my own agent. If things went wrong, I could only be mad at myself. When they went right, I got to take all the credit.”

Renovate vs. Rebate
Menendez says her biggest mistake was listening to her agent back in 1994 when she and her sister sold their parents’ home in Troy, Michigan. “The house was a little outdated and needed some work — basic stuff, like paint and carpeting — but our agent insisted that buyers didn’t care about those things. She told us they looked past the interior and kept the bigger picture in mind,” Menendez says. “So we sold it as is. When people talked about the outdated carpet or dingy walls, our agent told us to offer money off our asking price so they could fix the house up themselves.”

Menendez found that real estate pricing strategy proved to be problematic. “If you tell people you’ll take off $1,000 so they can paint the walls themselves, they’ll go through every room and want money off for a paint job in every room,” she says. “Same goes with carpeting. Tell them you’ll give them $1,000 to replace carpeting in the living room and family room, and they’ll want $5,000 to do the whole house.”

Menendez says the take-a-few-bucks-off approach ended up shaving more than $10,000 off the asking price. “It was a buyer’s market at the time,” she says. “We could have put less than $2,000 into it ourselves and come out $8,000 ahead, but our agent insisted that it was the way things were done.”

Price Pitfall
When Menendez sold her condo in suburban Cleveland in 2004, she used a different real estate agent but again received some advice that she questioned. “The agent was completely stubborn about the price,” Menendez says. “He told me it was my decision, but he strongly suggested that I price my unit about $7,000 less than some of the other units in my building so buyers knew that I was serious about selling.”

Menendez listened and sold her condo within three weeks. “I was pretty excited,” she says. “But then I realized that two other condos sold the same month, each one for $10,000 more than mine. And I had a corner unit with great windows, a much better place than the ones that sold.”

Menendez says she learned that the suggested $7,000 drop in her original asking price didn’t matter much to her agent but it mattered to her. “He probably lost a few hundred dollars in commission — big deal,” she says. “I lost about ten grand. I could do a lot with ten grand.”

Lessons Learned
When it came time to sell her house last October, Menendez decided to go it alone. She did some basic home remodeling projects, including painting her walls white, a process that took less than two days thanks to the help of her son and his wife. The next thing she did was set a realistic asking price that allowed her some wiggle room. “I figured I’d go a little high and give myself some room to come down,” she says.

But when her asking price was met within a few weeks, she knew she had made the right choice. “You learn to rely on yourself and to trust yourself when you sell by owner,” Menendez says. “If there’s a mistake, I’ll make it and take the blame. But it’s not like I need an agent to tell me what to do and what not do. There’s so much information out there when it comes to pricing, showing and selling your home. You just have to do your research and trust your gut.”

We want to know: What’s the worst advice you’ve ever received about selling your home? What was the best?


14 Ways to Heat Up Interest in Property Listings Now

Featured home: 201 Seminary Dr., Dyer, IN 46311
Listing ID 23963174

Have you noticed sales in your area have started to slow down? You’re not alone. As mortgage interest rates increased, pending home sales dipped slightly in July, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the dip is not something to be worried about. “The modest decline in sales is not yet concerning, and contract activity remains elevated with the South and Midwest showing no measurable slowdown. However, higher mortgage interest rates and rising home prices are impacting monthly contract activity in the high-cost regions of the Northeast and the West.”

Keep in mind, mortgage rates are still lower than they’ve been in years and buyers are eager to make a move before they jump again. These attention grabbers are guaranteed to boost buyer interest in your home now.

1. Give them a sign. Since house hunters tend to scout out neighborhoods before looking at specific homes, and 80% of all homes on the market use yard signs, professional yard signs are one of the most important tools any seller can use. It pays to invest in a professional yard sign to get noticed.

2. Let buyers take your home home with them. A great property flyer will sell buyers on your home before they step in the front door; it can also sell them after the open house. Here are 10 ways to help your sales flyer make a lasting impression.

3. Don’t skimp on photos! The first introduction buyers have to your home will probably be through the photos on your listing. Follow a few practical photo-taking tips to make them look their best. We’ve also found that sellers get more email inquiries when they have 6+ photos.

4. Look at your home in a different light. Pretend you are a potential buyer walking up to your door for the first time. What do you notice? Do you need to wash the windows? Repair small cracks in the sidewalk? Don’t forget: Curb appeal doesn’t end when the sun goes down.

5. Put your social network to work. Have you posted photos of your home to your Facebook, Twitter and/or Pinterest pages? Even if your friends aren’t looking to buy, chances are they know someone who is. Try these five quick tips on how to use social media to sell your home.

Keeping reading: 9 tips for a successful showing (and a printable checklist)

What tactics have you used to attract more buyers?