What happens during a house showing? Questions such as “How much should we list for?” and “How long will it take to sell?” have historically overshadowed this important topic. Over the past year, technology has been helpful to both buyers and sellers and will continue to assist with property sales. Virtual meetings, videos and 3D tours provide are some of the tools that we will continue to use as they benefit all stages of the sale of a home. As we move forward here’s what house sellers can expect when they show their home, and how they can take advantage of the potential to get more offers and sell their home faster.
Open Houses vs. Showings
Showings and open houses are not the same things. An “open house” occurs when a seller opens their door to anyone who wants to take a closer look at their home. Homebuyers, in the past, would spend the week reviewing property listings, planning their weekend journey, and mapping out open houses online. Before the Internet and technology changed everything, families would pour into their automobiles on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, driving around their favourite neighbourhoods looking for “sandwich board” signs along sidewalks, showcasing this generally two-hour event.
Although times have changed, the method of attracting homebuyers has remained mostly unchanged since its inception 30 years ago. If you’ve never sold a house before, you’re probably curious about what happens during a showing.
Government-mandated health and safety precautions halted the “open-door” approach in favour of virtual home tours as a no-contact manner of exhibiting listings. When buyers found a listing that fit their criteria for a new home, they would go out to see it in person, wearing masks and in small groups. Some homebuyers went totally virtual, with the showing, offer, negotiations, and final documentation all taking place over the internet.
Today, thanks to technology, the convenience of a virtual sale is a trend that will likely continue. Canadians are looking forward to in-person showings for many homebuyers and sellers. A combination of both virtual and in-person showings will make it convenient for both buyers and sellers.
What happens during a house tour?
Some aspects of the home-showing process have evolved as a result of what we’ve experienced and learned over the last year and a half. Here’s a quick rundown of what home sellers may expect when their house is on the market.
Make an appointment to see the property.
When homebuyers come across a listing they like, they usually want to see it in person before making an offer. They’ll be anxious to see it as soon as possible, which is especially important in a hot seller’s market, where even a seemingly minor delay can lose them the opportunity to buy.
During the selling phase, make yourself available to speak with your real estate agent at any time to ensure that showings are scheduled on time. Your agent should give you a couple of hours’ notice, but you should have some flexibility. It’s always a good idea to let your agent know about any issues that can affect the schedule of showings, such as the need for a rapid clean-up if you’re still living there, or the time required to clear the house of pets and people (more on that below!).
How will you know when there is a showing?
With your real estate agent, decide on the best method of contact ahead of time. What method would you prefer to be contacted? Select a means of communication that you will have easy access to and that you will check frequently. This can take the form of an email, a phone call, a text message, a calendar invite, or if your agent uses one, a scheduling app. As previously stated, if you require it, your agent can provide you with advance notification.
Who is in charge of showing the house?
Homeowners will not be present during showings. The time scheduled for a showing is kept to a minimum, usually, a half-hour for small to medium-sized properties and an hour for larger properties. Take a walk, take a drive, or run some errands. Keep in mind that having homeowners present during showings can put off some potential buyers, making it harder for them to envision themselves living in the property or difficult to express their true emotions about the property.
If you’re expecting a lot of showings in a hot market or in a popular area, now can be a good time to plan a vacation. This saves you time and money by keeping the house in “showing condition” without requiring you to clean it constantly.
During the showing, what happens?
The homebuyers will have access to your property for the duration of their appointment, which is usually 30 minutes to an hour. They must arrive, view, and depart within that time frame. Their representative will take them on a tour of the house, ensuring that they remove their shoes and observe etiquette, as well as answering any questions they may have. If the agent is unsure, they will seek clarification from the listing agent.
You can expect the buyers to check through cabinets, cupboards, and closets from top to bottom during the showing. Because you’ll be taking things with you when you move, furniture drawers and the like are off-limits, but everything built-in will be evaluated for storage space, quality, and condition. Remember to include the basement, attic, garage, shed, and utility rooms in your plans!
Buyers can also test the utilities by turning on the water faucets, flushing the toilets, checking light switches, and testing electrical outlets. Some buyers may take advantage of this chance to conduct a house inspection (which should be informed to the listing agent and seller in advance) so that they can make an offer without this condition.
To help reduce personal contact in your home, sellers are leaving closet doors open and lights on.
Following the showing
The buyers’ agent is responsible for ensuring that the property is left in the same condition as when the showing began and that the door is locked.
Then it’s a waiting game, depending on market conditions. If the buyer has any follow-up inquiries or wants to make an offer, the buyer and selling agents will usually communicate. If the buyers decide not to pursue the property, some selling agents may contact the buyer’s agent to obtain comments on the listing – pricing, condition or features of the home, neighbourhood, or anything else that didn’t appeal to the buyers. If the home does not sell, this information can be useful in revising the listing strategy. Of course, there are obvious signals that a house showing went well, which usually take the form of a quick offer at or above the asking price!
The Gould Team will help sellers throughout the entire selling process. Contact us if you are thinking of listing your home. We would be happy to provide you with a free market evaluation.