Home Selling Etiquette: 5 Rules for Showings
Just like knowing which fork to use at a banquet table, selling your home comes with all sorts of hidden rules about good manners. Learning the rules of home selling etiquette will make the process feel a lot smoother, and you may find that knowing how to behave during open houses and showings helps you sell your house a little bit faster.
Most rules about good manners have to do with making the people around you feel comfortable and relaxed — in the case of selling your home, your behavior should be determined by what is most likely to make people shopping for a new home feel like they're welcome into your home, yet under no pressure to buy.
Although this may sound complicated, there are a few easy ways to ensure buyers feel at home when visiting your home. Here’s what you should know to make a good impression.
1: Make Yourself Scarce
One of the many benefits of working with a real estate agent is that you don't need to come in contact with prospective buyers during showings. It's not that meeting them is outright rude or anything, but your presence on the property is a big reminder that you're the owner. Most buyers won't want to offend you by commenting on your choice of kitchen cabinets, so they won't feel free to discuss your home or voice their opinions to their own real estate agent if they feel you hovering in the background.
It's also much easier for buyers to picture your house as their own without you — a total stranger — in their line of sight. Hit the road when a buyer or home inspector comes along to do a walkthrough.
2: Pack up the Pets
It's impossible to know what allergies people have, and not everyone loves cat claws and dog slobber. Respect the fears and aversions your potential buyers may have and keep your pets out of the picture during showings. This may require investing in a crate to take your pets for a car ride for a few hours, or you may wish to board them at a kennel or friend's house for a day if you can plan ahead.
Fish are generally innocuous, but small animals like gerbils, hamsters and birds are best kept at someone else's home while your house is on the market to eliminate any lingering odors that could offend the noses of non-animal lovers.
3: Ensure Easy Access
Move your cars out of the garage and driveway to a side street so that potential buyers have a place to park. You want to make it easy for them to get to your house and see it from the street, and parking difficulties from the get-go are a big turnoff for buyers, who may assume it's always hard to find a spot in your neighborhood.
It's also a good idea to keep exterior pathways swept clean of leaves or debris; in winter, be sure to shovel regularly and use plenty of ice melt for safety. The same goes for the interior, where no closet doors or crawl spaces should be blocked by furniture or clutter.
4: Don't Pry
Just as your friends and acquaintances would find lots of nosy questions about their personal lives annoying, so too will your prospective buyers resent a bunch of loaded questions about what they think of the house.
Don't attempt to open any conversations with them about their thoughts; they'll get back to you through your real estate agent if they have any questions or are interested in making an offer.
5: Don't Take Criticisms Personally
When you do hear about a buyer's impressions from your real estate agent, try not to take things too personally. It can be hard to hear someone criticize your choice in paint color or your decorating taste, but that's the name of the game in real estate — everyone has an opinion. If you get repeated feedback about something that should be addressed, listen to your real estate agent's advice without getting defensive. He or she has your best interests in mind, and you're working together towards the same goal: selling your house for the best price.
Sometimes being a polite, well mannered home seller is hard, especially when you're just dying to know how your open house went and what people think of your property. Take a deep breath, stay focused and put your best home selling manners on display, and you'll make your real estate agent's job much easier while making potential buyers feel more at ease. Before you know it, you'll be signing all those papers at closing!