SHOWING WITH PURPOSE
What is the difference between a typical real estate showing and a “Showing with Purpose” plan?
Most Realtors use a centralized appointment service to schedule showings for buyers to see your property.
Many Sellers consider it their only task is to simply vacate the house before that agent arrives with their clients. What typically happens is an appointment service will call you and say, “ We have an agent who would like to show your home today between four and six o’clock.” Four and six? That’s a two hour showing window. What are you supposed to do with the baby, your mother-in-law, and the sick dog for two hours? So you take the kids to wander around the park in the summer heat for two hours plus, and then you arrive home wondering how the showing went.
Listing Agent follow-up is paramount to a “ Showing with Purpose” plan.
Right away, you can tell by the footprints in the carpet, they did not discover the fifth bedroom around the corner. Maybe it’s for the best, you tell yourself, since you discovered too late that your mother-in-law’s suitcase was laying open, with several personal items laying out. But then a week goes by without any feedback from the Agent who showed your home. When your Agent finally calls to follow up (after being prodded multiple times by you), the Buyer’s Agent states that their client made an offer on another property in your neighborhood. They loved your home, but had ruled it out because it was only a four bedroom. If only your Agent had personally consulted with that Agent after the showing in a timely manner, that offer could have been yours! Listing Agent follow-up is paramount to a “ Showing with Purpose” plan.
Staging your home prior to showing is paramount.
Another important factor in the success of a showing is the presentation of your home. You want your home to look and feel as inviting as possible for prospective Buyers. For a “Showing with Purpose,” you will stage the property prior to the appointment. This is your time to shine! You will turn on the lights, check that the toilet lids are closed, corral the cats and dogs, and even turn on soft music. When the Buyers arrive, their Agent will be able to comfortably open the door and welcome them to their lovely future home. I want them to have the feeling that this pristine home has been prepared and is being offered specially to them. I will go into detail about everything that is involved in a “Showing with Purpose” plan later in this chapter; but first, let me tell you another story.
Anticipating what the buyer wants.
I am still surprised how often I walk into unprepared homes for sale. Why bother to show the home at all? I had a very qualified client who was seeking the perfect family home in a specific neighborhood I was very familiar with. There were only five homes that met the square footage needs and were under the $1,000,000 limit the Buyer was willing to pay. The showing appointments were made for the early evening to accommodate the Buyer’s work schedule.
The showing appointments were booked a few days in advance so the Sellers and their Listing Agents would be ready for this very real Buyer. I anticipated my Buyer was going to be interested in a particular property that had a huge pool, large secondary bedrooms, and a secluded upstairs gameroom for the kids. Since I knew the home was the right home for him, I booked the showing for last.
The house was immaculate, with great details and a fantastic floor plan. This property had been on the market for over eight months with a different broker and had been reduced several times by over $50,000. I did not understand why it had been on the market for such an extended period of time. We pulled up to the front of the property on the evening of the showing. It was pitch black. The exterior lights had not even been left on for us. My client tripped twice up the lead walk steps on the way to the front door. I fumbled at the door in the dark for a few minutes with the key box before finally getting the key into the lock and opening the door.
The victim of a bad showing.
The home was bitter cold. Every blind was closed. The pool lights were not on. Not a single lamp welcomed us into this home. After breezing through the ground floor of the home, my clients stated that they had seen enough and wanted to leave. . . without even seeing the upstairs. This exquisite home was the sad victim of a bad showing. In the end, my client purchased a more expensive home with smaller secondary bedrooms, that needed more updates than the ‘victim’ property. He told several friends what an awful listing it was, stating, “No wonder it had been on the market for so long.” Whose fault was it? The Sellers? They were out of town. Who was being paid to market the property? The Listing Agent!
You and your Listing Agent are partners in one of the most important business transactions of your life.
If you know that you will be at work, out of town, or unable to stage the property, make a plan to have a neighbor, one of the Listing Agent’s staff, or someone help stage the home. An interesting note: This property lingered on the market for another sixty days before the first Listing Agent’ s agreement expired. The Seller contacted me to market the property next. The first thing we did was raise the price by $25,000. The second step was to ensure the home would be prepared for every showing, and someone from my team would stage the home if they were out of town. We also started an aggressive open-house campaign. As my listing, the home was sold within forty-five days. This was a direct result of a “Showing with Purpose” plan. Let’s discuss that process in detail.
Showing with Purpose is not a typical real estate showing.
A “Showing with Purpose” is planned and carried out more strategically than the typical real estate showing. Initially, the Buyer’s Agent will call the showing service to set a specific appointment. I like to insist on only a one hour showing window if possible. Professional Real Estate Agents should be able to organize their showings and adhere to a Seller’s request of a one-hour showing window in most cases. This is a simple courtesy to Sellers that ALL Agents should strive for.
Inconveniencing a Seller for 2 – 3 hours because an Agent cannot make a schedule is unacceptable. When the showing service calls to set the appointment, this is your cue to prepare the property. Your home should be staged at least ten minutes prior to the specific appointment. Staging the home before a showing includes opening all shutters and turning on most lights, ensuring certain doors are open and others are closed, turning on soft music, lighting a few candles, chasing the dog outside, and. . . (wait, is the teenage boy’s room presentable?) . . . action! I do understand that both of you might work or be unavailable during the day. That is fine. Please leave your shutters and blinds open, and a few lamps on at a minimum. Do not shut your home up like a morgue when you leave for the day if you are on the market!
Knowledge of the area and follow-up are key.
After the showing, I will follow up on the appointment by making a call to the Buyer’s Agent within 48 hours if the Buyer’s Agent has not already followed up.
Your Listing Agent and their staff should be armed with neighborhood facts, be able to talk with confidence about schools, children in the neighborhood, and the wonderful café within walking distance. The bottom line of real estate will always be location. It is impossible to sell any house without also selling the neighborhood. With a “Showing with Purpose” plan, your home has the opportunity to become more than just one of ten houses the Buyer is being shown that day.
On the Follow-Up Call, a knowledgeable Listing Agent or trusted staff member must also ask the dreaded question… “What does your client NOT like about this home?”
There is no such thing as the perfect home.
The question has to be asked, “what don’t you like about this property?”, in order to overcome the Buyer’s potential reason for eliminating it from their lineup.
If we (you, the Seller; and me, the Listing Agent) do not know the Buyer’s concerns, we do not have a chance to overcome their objections. A “SOLD” sign will not hang in that yard without a dialogue about what does not work for the Buyer. Sometimes the answer is simple—change a paint color or new carpet in a room. Sometimes the answer requires the Listing Agent to have knowledge of remodeling possibilities: How much will it cost to change the Corian to granite, add another bathroom, or convert a gameroom into a true theatre? What is the Buyer’s objection? There will always be one, because there is no such thing as ‘the perfect home.’
Properties are passed over all of the time because a qualified Listing Agent was not available to answer a simple question or point out a secluded fifth bedroom. By the way, I am NOT suggesting that the homeowners stay for the showing, directly interacting with the Buyer and pointing out fifth bedrooms. This is extremely awkward for the prospective Buyers. It inhibits them. They feel like they can’t open all the closet doors, can’t say anything negative about the home, and usually just can’t wait to get out of the home and on to the next property. Do not make the mistake of staying during the showing. If, for some reason, you cannot vacate. . . do not engage the potential Buyer beyond, “Hello.” Remember, they are looking for reasons to low-ball your home, and anything you say can and will be held against you.
Reduce the competition.
Another important benefit of the Follow-Up Call is that if your property definitely cannot meet the Buyer’s needs, I will be able to ask more questions about the client. I will also be able to determine what they are looking for, and see if there are other properties in my inventory that might fit their criteria.
Now, you might be thinking, “Wait, why would I ever want my Listing Agent to follow up on my showing by suggesting some other property to the Buyer’s Agent?” The answer is that when some other property does not work out for a Buyer, your home could be the next one they look at if I recommend it to their Agent. Every sale in the neighborhood is a good sale. If that Buyer is not your Buyer, I still want them to take another property OFF of the market in your neighborhood, reducing your competition.
The Follow-Up Call completes your “Showing with Purpose” plan by allowing the Listing Agent to overcome Buyers’ objections.
Ultimately, if you are going to put your property on the market, commit to making every showing a great showing. A welcoming presentation and knowledgeable Real Estate Agent will make a terrific start, and an Agent who is able to investigate and overcome objections is better yet. Second and third showings do not happen by sitting back and letting the cards fall where they may. A proactive approach to facilitating and following up with your showings is critical to the sale of your home.
For more articles like this, complete the form below to receive your FREE copy of Sharon’s book: Seven Secrets to Selling Your Home.