As real estate markets brace for the rush of spring listings, sellers ought to consider how they're going to deal with prospective buyers when they visit their homes. The best advice is simple; leave.
Sellers have to embrace the idea that a home is a commodity; buyers have no emotional connection to it. In fact, a buyer may be in and out of the home in minutes; it’s even possible that the home will be eliminated from the curb. Studies show that decisions and opinions can often be formulated in under ten seconds; buyers in this current market tend to be more decisive than in the past. The real estate crash has driven home the idea that buying a home is as much a business transaction as anything else. When business and emotion intersect, problems can arise.
Experience reinforces several good ideas for sellers to consider:
If possible, leave the home for showings. The wonderful things about the home should be noted on the listing material and will be seen by the agent and buyer. Tour guides are not required, buyers know what they like.
If remaining in the home is required, stay out of the way. Find the basement, outside porch or other area and prepare to move as the buyers walk around.
Avoid anything more than pleasantries with buyers and agents. Imagine you're dealing with the cops here - whatever you say can be used against you during negotiation. Experienced agents will chat up sellers with “so have you contracted a home already….when are you leaving….have you had offers….” benign sounding questions that provide savvy buyer agents with key information to use later on.
Remove kids and pets or control them. Buyers are not there to hear piano practice nor have their pants pulled by a dog. Everyone agrees that kids and dogs are cute but the buyer is there to see the house, not them.
The presence of personal effects is debatable; some say remove them all, while others say this is still the seller’s home. Best choice is likely in the middle; obviously consider removing anything that might be offensive or misinterpreted. It might sound ridiculous but opportunity has been lost due to political, religious and even sporting paraphernalia. Mounted animals are considered trophies by some, barbaric by others.
This is a list generated from years of experience and conversation with many other agents, it’s not all inclusive but it does hit on many common sense things. Buyers generally know what they want; consider that most begin the screening process right from the desktop. Before a buyer walks through the door, they have screened the home on line, researched the area and asked their agent for an opinion.
A visit means there is interest, so it’s best to let the home sell itself without the awkward feeling of a homeowner waiting to be “helpful”. The most helpful home sellers are the ones that buyers don’t see.
Hank Miller is a full time Associate Broker and Certified Appraiser in Atlanta. He is known as much for his attention to detail as he is for his candor. Visit www.hankmillerteam.com for all things real estate.