This blog post is the fourth in a series on 'Selling your home'. The series will explain, step by step, important considerations and events that will occur if you plan to sell your home in the near future. The first three steps in the series, Preparation, Marketing and Pricing Strategies, can be found on our blog.
So, what should you expect when your home comes on the market? It's entry onto the market should be timed so that your home has maximum exposure, to the serious buyers, before you need to make a decision on what offer to take - this is assuming that you are pricing realistically. Bringing the home onto the market on a Thursday allows time for the various Internet sites to pick up the information about the home so that the maximum number of people know about your home in time for weekend showings, when the majority of buyers are out househunting, and Open Houses. You should facilitate making your house easy to be shown in the beginning...nothing turns a buyer off more than it being tough to get in to see it. Your serious buyers are ready to buy now. If they want to get in to see your home, and are prevented from getting in for whatever reason, then you risk them seeing another home that may work for them and be under contract on that home, before they even think of trying to make another appointment to see your home. As a result, your home may be 'great value' but if nobody can get in to see it then you've wasted your time even putting it on the market.
Not only should you endeavor to agree to all appointment requests, especially in the beginning of your home being on the market, it also has to be easy for the buyers agent to make the appointment to show the home. Some agents promote their 'personal services' when initially talking to you about selling your home. There is a difference between personal services that turns buyers off from viewing and making an offer on your home, and personal services that are fundamentally value based. A couple of examples of the differences are below.
Automated Scheduling Tool - ShowingTime
Some of the more progressive agents use an automated appointment scheduling tool called ShowingTime. ShowingTime allows a buyers agent to call a central number, or click the ShowingTime link in MLS for the home, or go onto the Internet site for ShowingTime, to log a request to show a home. ShowingTime then make the calls/emails to the seller to let them know that a request has been made and the seller is immediately able to respond to the request. There is nothing worse, as a buyers agent, in having to make and receive multiple phone calls to the listing agent just to try to make an appointment to show the home. Most buyers agents find ShowingTime so easy to use, that if there is a choice between showing a home that uses ShowingTime to schedule the showing or calling the listing agent, they will make the appointment for the one that uses ShowingTime. It is just so much easier, and is a far more productive use of agents and sellers time. When working as a buyers agent I give a little sigh of relief when I need to schedule a showing on a home and it uses ShowingTime as its method of scheduling an appointment. Remember that the key fundamental of selling your home is exposure - getting as many buyers through the house as possible, and anything that encourages buyer's 'feet on the floor' is an important consideration.
As a seller, ShowingTime also allows you to see feedback that has been entered by buyers agents after the showing of your home, and to review times and dates of showing requests and by whom, and to review how many times your home has been shown to understand whether these are first time showings or second showings. It also allows you to block off time periods for showings, for example, if you have the extended family over for dinner one evening and a showing during this time would be very awkward.
The Negatives of Accompanied Showings
Another example of where 'personal services' are not in the best interests for the seller are Accompanied Showings.
A lot of sellers think that their listing agent should be at the home during private showings to 'show and sell' the home to prospective buyers. This is the worst thing that a listing agent can do. Listing Agents who accompany showings generally fall into 3 categories - those who do it because 'that is the way they have always done it', those who are out of tune with how today's buyers want to view a home, or those whose sellers believe this is the 'correct' way to sell a house and insist on it.
To explain why Accompanied Showings are not a good idea - Most buyers have a long standing relationship with their buyers agent and are comfortable with their agents skill level, knowledge and advice. When they are viewing a home with their buyers agent, and the listing agent is also there, buyers get very uncomfortable when they can't discuss the home with their agent while they are viewing the home. More often than not, buyers spend far less time in a home where the listing agent is present, than in a home when it is just them and their buyers agent. The whole purpose of having a buyer view your home is for them to develop a comfort level there and begin to get an emotional 'connection' with the home....this is almost impossible for this to occur with the listing agent hovering nearby. If the buyers agent has any questions about the home, they will call the listing agent and get the answers. The listing agent just should not be there. Some agents feel that they are 'selling' the home by being there....this is so far from reality that it shows that this agent rarely works with buyers, and doesn't understand how a buyer 'feels' when they walk into a home with the listing agent there.
Some buyers have particular ways of viewing a home - some like to walk through the home quickly and then after doing one quick pass, then take their time going back into certain rooms that are key in what they are looking for and spend longer in those rooms. Some buyers like to just quietly walk into each room and stand and quietly discuss the features in that room and how they can make the room work for them. Each buyer views a house differently. From a personal perspective, the homes where a listing agent has 'walked' us around a home pointing out 'features' along the way are forgotten very quickly, yet the homes where the buyers and I are able to just wander and look for ourselves, are remembered for far longer. You'd be surprised at how often when my buyers are beginning to wander into the living room, after being greeted at the door by the listing agent, to have the listing agent call them back and tell them 'No, no, don't go that way, its better to begin in the dining room...' and then proceeds to lead us around. Or how many times listing agents point out 'features' of a home that they believe are features, but in fact, turn the buyers off from even considering the home because they don't know the buyers, or what they are looking for, or what is important to them.
When considering how important it is to make your home as easy to see as possible to get maximum exposure, you've also introduced an additional complexity in trying to coordinate the showing to not only suit the buyers, the buyer agent and the seller, but now have to schedule around the listing agents availability also. When I work with buyers I am often showing upwards of 15-20 homes in a day - I believe in showing a buyer as many homes as possible so that the buyer learns the values in the area, and the buyer has the opportunity to get that visceral 'feel' when they walk into the right home. When scheduling a buyer tour of a large number of homes, and for it to be a large number of homes, the buyer is a serious buyer who is putting a high priority on finding a home, I regularly have at least 25% of showing requests cancel because the listing agent cannot make the time requested because it is an accompanied showing, and because its the listing agent who has cancelled the showing the request doesn't even get to the seller. Instead of seeing the home because of the listing agent scheduling conflict, I make an appointment to see an alternate home and the first one *may* be seen at a later date, but may not. Most sellers would be horrified to know how many times their home could have been shown, IF, their listing agent's schedule allowed.
Days on the Market accumulating?
We commonly say that if a house hasn't gotten an accepted offer within 3 weeks of it being on the market, or within 3 weeks of a significant price reduction, that the market is telling the seller that their home is overpriced. Your listing agent should be providing you with data on showings, whether from an automated tool like ShowingTime, or from an email or spreadsheet, documenting how many showings and how many of those are second showings. If your home has been sitting on the market, accumulating Days on the Market, you should seriously be considering reducing the price of your home within 3 weeks of it being on the market, or if you've had a price reduction which has not generated an offer.
If your agent has left marketing materials in your home, make sure that you haven't put them away somewhere and that they are easily accessible for the showing. Don't be at home when the showing is occurring...this is a situation that makes the buyer VERY uncomfortable. Don't wait to leave the house when the buyers turn up...vacate prior to anyone arriving. Again, comfort level is important. Remember to leave the house looking its best and sometimes this is the little details of turning on lights, or having the heat/cool set on to a comfortable temperature. These buyers at this showing may not have seen your home when it was looking fantastic 'last week', they may be seeing it for the first time at this showing, so have your home looking its best at every showing. This is incredibly hard to do the longer your home is on the market.
Its important to reiterate that the longer your home is on the market the less money you will be offered for your home. Most buyers, and buyers agents, look at how long a home has been on the market before deciding how much to offer. The longer its been on the market, the more they will 'adjust' the price offered. For additional information about pricing strategies, please go online to review the third blog post in this series.
Just remember, that if you've priced your home well, done all the preparation and your agent is marketing your home so that you obtain the maximum exposure, then you and your families upheaval and inconvenience, can be short lived and you can then begin moving forward to the next stage of your home ownership.
If you'd like clarification on any of the principles articulated her then please don't hesitate to ask!