Home Showing: Sanity Check

While buyers are advised to get their “financial house in order” to apply for a loan, sellers may find it just as difficult to get their physical house in order and ready for home showings. To avoid getting overwhelmed, prioritize the necessary steps and keep matters in proper perspective, the experts suggest.

First, understand that the key to a successful home showing today is to ensure that the property meets the expectations of buyers who are better educated and more prepared than ever before – thanks to the power of the Internet.

“The Internet provides buyers the opportunity to see the property in detail, particularly with listings that include a video tour,” says Robert Foley, owner and broker, Flat Fee Real Estate, Burlington, Vt. “For instance, if the [online] photos show a well-maintained home, but when the buyer arrives it is in shambles, the buyer will be disappointed because the property did not coincide with their expectations.”

Additionally, realize that the effort you expend should yield equivalent results. In other words, be prepared to work hard to create a home that is neat, clean and well-lit to make a strong impact on potential buyers.

Peggy Patenaude, real estate agent at Prudential Howe and Doherty Realtors, Andover, Mass., suggests the following five tips for a successful showing:

• Remove the clutter and depersonalize your residence. Put away any collections or trinkets that can be distracting and make your home feel less spacious. A minimal look gives buyers a chance to use their own imagination.

• Evaluate the layout of your space and the furniture you’re using. If a couch or table is too big, for example, it will make the room feel smaller.

• Assess your home’s color and style carefully. A fresh coat of neutral-colored paint will make a living space appear newer, brighter and bigger.

• Remember that every space matters. Don’t store an overflow of belongings in the basement or cram stuff into your closet, as buyers will look there, too.

• Don’t be afraid to seek help. Home staging experts will know where to rent the ideal furniture, what needs to be placed in storage and how to see past personal taste to exhibit your space properly to buyers.

“The goal of a home showing is to have the potential buyer envision him or herself living there, not the current owner. It’s about the potential use of space, not the current use of space,” Patenaude says.

Being flexible with your schedule is also important.

“Many buyers like to look at property during weekday business hours. Thus, if a seller can accommodate such showings, they will have more showings and greater success in selling,” Foley says.

During the actual showing, be prepared to make yourself and your family scarce.

“Home sellers should not be in the house for at least two hours during the showing,” Patenaude says. “And prior to the showing, make sure to get rid of pets and any evidence of pets.”

After the prospective buyer leaves, gauge their feedback from your agent, but adopt a thick skin and business-first attitude without getting emotional.

“Not everyone will love your home, so don’t take it personal and don’t put yourself in a position of being disappointed,” says Don Todorich, agent with West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Illustrated Properties.

To further reduce showing-related pressure, set reasonable expectations.

“Sellers need to understand the ultimate objective and remember why they are putting themselves in what can be a somewhat stressful and disruptive situation. For most sellers, the process will last less than six months, and for most, their home represents their most valuable asset,” Foley says. “When you think about it in those terms, it is short-term stress relative to the importance of the asset to the seller. Knowing what to expect about the process can help reduce stress.”

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