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Showing Your House

No one will buy your property sight unseen. Luscious listing statements, appealing ads, and inviting photographs of your house's interior and exterior fan the flames of buyer curiosity. To satisfy the inquisitiveness that you arouse, you must let prospective buyers wander through your house.

If you list your house with a real estate agent, showings are an inconvenience rather than a problem because a good agent handles the actual buyer and broker showings for you. Your job is simple -- make sure that the property is staged to show well and make yourself scarce while the property is being shown.

Preshowing preparations

If you don't know exactly how to generate property curb appeal and subtly stage your house, we cover a few final things you must do to maximize the showing process. For example:

  • Make showing your property easy for agents: The easier your house is to show, the more often agents will show it, and, most likely, the more you'll get for it, and the faster it'll sell. Instead of personally doling out your key, either give the listing agent a key if your house is only shown by appointment or have your agent put a house key in a lockbox that agents open by using a special lockbox key or electronically-coded lockbox card. From an agent's perspective, nothing is more embarrassing or frustrating than trying to explain to an antsy buyer the reason they can't unlock the front door. Before you give the listing agent keys to your house, make sure that they actually unlock the door.
  • Make yourself scarce during showings: Leave the property while your listing agent shows it. Some buyers are too polite to say so, but having you hovering over them as they tour your house is very inhibiting. Serious buyers want to look into all your closets and cabinets, look under all your sinks and washbowls, and explore every nook and cranny of the house -- but they won't if you're hanging around.
  • By the same token, as long as you're around, buyers won't make derogatory comments. Sometimes, the most important information you get from a showing is the reason why someone doesn't like the property. Correcting a problem or overcoming an objection starts by finding out about the problem or objection. Your agent should follow up every showing by calling the buyer's agent to find out whether the buyer intends to make an offer and, if not, why.

Lockboxes versus shown-by-appointment arrangements

Depending on the location of your property, you may have to use a lockbox. If, for example, your property is 50 miles from the nearest town or located in a scenic but remote area, you may not have a viable alternative to a lockbox.

From the standpoint of making your property easy to show, lockboxes are great. Newer, electronic lockboxes contain a computer chip that maintains a record of which agent's card was used to open the box as well as the date and time the property was shown. Some lockboxes also have a lock-out feature that limits key access to certain hours so you can have some privacy every now and then. Super sophisticated lockboxes can even be programmed with a call-before-showing code that forces agents to call the listing agent to get an additional code to enter the property.

But, the most sophisticated lockbox in the world still has drawbacks. Lockboxes can't straighten up your house before a showing, or tell you which agent let Duke, the wonder cat, out of the house, or point a finger at the agent who forgot to lock your front door after a showing, or, most important of all, help sell your house to buyers.