One thing that has been discussed lately, especially with new agents, is the scheduling of house showings. How long does it take to show a house? How many houses are too many in one day? Much of this comes with experience and just getting out there and doing it, but there are a few common sense guidelines that apply.
Sellers often think that a buyer will spend 30 minutes or longer looking at their house. At times they do, but how can an agent set up a schedule with a variety of houses? There’s drive time to consider, listing agents often meet us there, are we piled into one car or two, and so forth. What determines the length of time to stay at each house? Some buyers like “the tour”, others want to wander around on their own without someone pointing out the obvious — “and here’s the kitchen” (really, the stove didn’t give that away?)
My method, which has served me well, is to tell buyers to relax, look through each home at their leisure, and depend on me to let them know when it is time to move on to the next property. I have found that six or seven houses in one day is the maximum for any buyer. By then, things start to blend together and it becomes overwhelming and exhausting. Asking our buyers to first drive by properties they may want to see, can eliminate some on their list and make our day much more efficient and productive.
Understand that appointments are set up for each listing. That way sellers know when to expect us, listing agents know when to meet us there and the timing of multiple showings considered so we don’t all show up at once. We must be cognizant of our time and others. Fifteen minutes is sufficient for any first showing and quite frankly, buyers tend to know pretty quickly if a particular house is of interest. Some are so quick with an opinion that I’ve had to make them walk through just to buy us some time before our next showing. Others must be made aware that it’s time to move on. If any houses in this first go’round are of interest, a second showing should be set up with time built in for more intense scrutiny, opening of drawers, closets, taking a closer look.
That second showing is very important before an offer is made. Are there appliances, drapes, a pellet stove in the house that may need to be written into a contract? Are there issues that a seller might be expected to address such as pumping a septic system, having a furnace serviced, or making an obvious repair? Better to ask for these things up front. Buyers — you are signing a legally binding contract when making your offer– take it slow and carefully and don’t leave yourself open for second thoughts in the middle of the night.
Sight, smell, sound, senses. Does it catch your eye immediately? Are the smells in the house appealing or overwhelming? Not sure? Ask your Realtor. I am always honest with my sellers if I smell pet odors or anything else and please, please remove those plug-in smelly things. Whew – very strong and with so many of us (me included) allergic to that stuff, can send a buyer or Realtor scrambling for the door. Your house should smell fresh and clean with a touch of home baked cookies that are sitting on the counter for us to snack on (well, you know what I mean.) May encourage them to linger and look around a bit longer.
There are exceptions to the rule, of course. There always are. If we were in a market similar to what my brother in Oregon is experiencing, where a house is considered to be on the market “for a while” when it’s been listed for a whole 20 DAYS!!, then yes, you would need to see houses with the understanding that if you like it, you have to make an offer immediately and probably well over list price. In that case, you are taking more time while doing the first and second showing all at once.
Thankfully, we aren’t that crazy around here but there are houses which come on the market that move quickly. These are clearly good deals. Well maintained, sparkling clean and most importantly, priced right.
Sellers may wonder why their own house isn’t moving more quickly. At lightning speed. At full price. Much depends on the price point and the number of buyers who are looking in that range.
But even still, if you are in a price range that may have only one or two buyers currently in the market, you’d better be the obvious choice — the best buy on the block. Don’t forget how important a first impression is. Sellers, keep this in mind, buyers drive by your house all the time, so make sure the outside of your house screams “come inside!”
This is where those May flowers might be helpful. You know the saying, “April showers bring May flowers.” As I write this article, if there is any indication from the rain we are getting in April, we should have a bounty of May flowers. We can only hope.