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Saturday, March 25, 2017

I approved a showing request. What is my role in that?

Understanding the Real Estate Process from A – Z – A Seller’s Guide to Real Estate – Part 5

This is the fifth post of a series in an FAQ format that I hope will help would be sellers better understand the real estate process that they are about to go through. There will be a follow-on series for real estate buyers.

FAQ – I approved a showing request. What is my role in that? Also, my agent wants to do an open house this weekend; what do I do for that?

Great, you’re getting some showing activity and your Realtor is executing a part of his/her Marketing Plan by scheduling an open house. Your role during each event is the same –BE GONE! As I mentioned in part 4 of this series of posts, you have an ongoing role to maintain the 3-C’s for the
house – Condition, Clutter and Cleanliness.  That is true for either of these events. Since you never know when a showing request will come in, you need to leave the house in show-ready every day, especially if you are off to work for the day.

Having your house listed and being always ready for showings is extra work and a hassle for some, but it is a personal sacrifice that you have to be willing to make as part of the selling process. If you’re into self-pity, selling your house will provide you with a woeful field day of opportunities to lament your fate. If, instead, you tend to get angry at being inconvenienced by all of those inconsiderate buyers who are trying to see your house, just don’t take it out on your Realtor. Go to the gym and hit the big bag for a while.

If you have pets, they need to be provided for. If they can be crated for the day, that is a good way to keep them out of the way for showings. If they are too large to put in a crate for the day or that just doesn’t work for them, you may try a day care program at your local pet care facility or arrange for someone to go over and take them out for the time of the showings. Locking your pet into a small room, like a laundry room, for the day may not work out as well as you hoped. Some pets go stir
crazy ad start scratching or chewing on the woodwork or other things in those rooms.  Visitors are also put off by the barking that will occur, by not being able to see that space in the house and by their concern and empathy for the pet (which may translate into bad thoughts about you as the pet’s owner).

Before you leave, also turn on and leave on the lights in the various rooms of the house, especially those table lamps and other lights that do not operate off a light switch. Leaving the lights on for the day is not going to significantly run up your electric bill and will make the house more inviting and easier to show, especially in winter months when it might be getting dark out before you get home. Most Realtors will try to turn off as many lights as they can at the end of their showing appointment. If you have multiple showings scheduled leave a note for the Realtors to let the earlier showing agents know to leave the lights on for the next showing.

If you are going to ask visitors to remove their shoes (or use over-shoe booties) during the visit you should provide a chair or bench for the visitors to sit on while removing or putting on their shoes or putting on the removing the booties. It is also a nice, and considerate, touch to provide a rug by the front door for the visitors to leave their shoes on. Other nice touches that you might consider is putting out a plate of fresh cookies and some bottled water for your visitors. Your Realtor should provide flyers of the home for visitor and any other documentation that he/she thinks might help - a plat map or survey for houses on larger parcels, for instance. Most Realtors are required to make the Sellers’ Disclosure and Lead-Based Paint Disclosure available on the MLS, but having those available for visitors in the house is also a good idea. You don’t have to put the Association By-Laws out for these events, but be aware that they will be requested for review by any really interested buyer, so make them available to your Realtor. If you have a survey of the property that is a good thing to copy and leave out. Visitors will want to know what the lot boundaries are, especially for bigger parcels.

The preparation for an Open House is basically the same as for a showing, so far as the 3-C’s are concerned. I advise that owners/sellers make an extra effort to put valuables away or, at least, out of sight. Visitors at an open house are not normally accompanied by a buyers’ agent and there may
occasions where there are multiple groups in the house at the same time. Your Realtor will do his/her best to watch everyone and try to protect your stuff; however, if you leave small, but valuable items laying out where they can be seen there will always be a few bad eggs who might take advantage and may rip you off. Put your valuables away for the open house. That includes things like jewelry, game cartridges in the kids’ rooms, DVD’s, memory sticks for computers, prescription drugs, small religious items (crosses and rosaries) and anything else that someone could easily slip into a purse or pocket. Whether you read it or not in the listing contract there was probably a sentence or a paragraph that specified that the agent is not responsible for any theft from your home during showings and open houses.

Neither your Realtor or the showing agent is held liable for injuries that visitor may suffer while visiting your home. Those injuries would have to be covered under your home owners’ insurance policy (so make sure that is up to date and paid up). Many homes have hazards in them that the owners get used to dealing with, but which unsuspecting visitors may fall victim to. Falling is the most common hazard. That little 5-6” drop into your sunken living room is something that you are used to, but I have seen visitors miss that step down and fall into the room with disastrous results. I usually recommend marking that drop with caution tape on the floor. Missing hand rails on stairs are another hazard that your family might have learned to live with, but which pose a danger for visitors; and which, by the way, you will have to fix if the buyer is going to use an FHA or VA mortgage; so fix it before it becomes a health hazard or a mortgage issue. Another hazard for visitors can come from opening a closet door to peek inside and being hit by falling objects from the overstuffed closet. Make sure that your closets don’t attack your visitors. They will open the doors to see how big the closets are.

What about the smells in your house? Visitors will notice the smell of your house before they notice anything else. Most owners become nose-dead to the pet odors than may linger in the house or to the smell of a litter box. Owners who smoke (and smoke in the house) are nose dead to how nicotine reeks in the house; buy, non-smokers can tell instantly that the house is smoked in and for many that
is a show stopper. Some owners with ethnic backgrounds may also be nose-dead to the smells in the house that are left by cooking ethnic foods. There is certainly nothing wrong with any ethnic group or even their foods, but visitors may not wish to share the aromas that can linger. Special attention needs to be paid to that issue if you are the owner and enjoy strong ethnic cooking in the house. See if Febreze will work, otherwise you may need to take stronger steps to deal with this issue. For houses that have been smoked in it may take the drastic step of washing down all walls and ceilings with a strong cleaner and then painting them with Kilz, before painting them whatever color you choose.

Other odors that can cause concern for visitors include strong musty odors in the basement, any gas smells that indicate leaks, or even strong odors from cloths piled in a laundry room or hamper. Some home owners try burning scented candles to mask any odors; but, that can have just the opposite effect on visitors who may wonder what the home owner is trying to hide. Some visitors will even get ill from the smell of the burning candles, which can themselves become overpowering, especially if the home owner has used multiple candles. There is still merit in the old advice to bake an apple pie the day of a showing, but if the place is getting lots of showings you won’t be able to keep up eating pies. The best thing is if the house smells neutral, which most visitors will equate to being clean. If the visitor happens to notice a feeding dish or a litter box, the best compliment that you could get as a homeowner is for them to say, “Wow, I didn’t smell a pet at all in here.”

For showings you should plan on leaving 30 minutes before he scheduled tome and returning 30 minutes after the scheduled end of the visit. Realtors try hard to stay of the schedule of the visit, but that is sometimes impossible, especially if your house is one in the middle or near the end of a busy day of visits to multiple homes with a client. It is very easy to get off the schedule by ½ an hour or more sometimes. You need to be flexible and accommodate those reasonable changes to the showing times. Open houses are a little easier to control, so you only need to leave about 15 minutes ahead of the open house start time and you should be able to return within 15 minutes of the end time. You may still encounter those open house visitors who have lingered at the end, but that’s usually a good thing. Your Realtor may leave you a note or call you later to tell you how the open house went, how many visitors went through and whether any of them seemed interested. He/she should have picked up lots of valuable feedback which they will share with you and discuss any changes that may need to be made.


Showings and open houses should have been your goal when you decided to list; so these are good things. No one is going to buy your house sight unseen, so do whatever you can (and whatever your Realtor asks you to do) to make them a success.  Good Luck with your showings/open houses.

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