A real estate showing is a tour by a potential buyer of a home that is being offered for sale. Showings give home shoppers a chance to look at available properties. A showing is an essential prelude to most real estate transactions. Relatively few properties are sold without first being seen by at least a few potential buyers.
Types of Showings
A real estate showing may take a few different forms.
- Lockbox showing – Either the buyer’s agent or the seller’s agent will accompany the buyer to the home. The agent will use and an electronic lockbox to obtain the key. The agent will open the home and accompany the buyer through the home.
- Open House – An open house allows anyone who is interested to come by and look at a home for sale. Open houses are usually scheduled on weekends. They last a few hours. Buyers may or may not be accompanied by an agent.
- Private showing – A private showing is usually scheduled ahead of time. Both buyer and seller agents may accompany the buyer on the tour.
Each type of showing has advantages for buyers, sellers and real estate professionals. Each also has limitations.
These types of showings can be done on short notice. Agents can draw up a list of properties and buyers can look at several in an afternoon. Lockbox showings can take place on weekdays when sellers are not home.
Lockbox showings require sellers to allow people in their homes without prior notice, however. Not everyone is comfortable with this. Electronic lockboxes can help put sellers at ease, however. They digitally record the time of a showing and the agent’s identification.
An agent can open a house at any time using the lockbox. This means homeowners may be inconvenienced if a buyer shows up during dinnertime, for instance.
Agents should knock and announce themselves before opening a home with a lockbox. They should not inspect the yard before announcing themselves either. This will avoid surprising homeowners who see them through a window.
However, agents may not always follow professional practices. Home sellers may need to be flexible to accommodate showings.
Although they have a low conversion rate, open houses allow lots of people to see a house within a short period of time. They let buyers get a feel for what’s available even before they have an agent.
Agents like open houses. Many open house visitors don’t have agents. So open houses help agents prospect for potential buyers and listings. An open house is not as likely as a lockbox or private showing to find a buyer for a specific house, however. Anyone can attend an open house, including people who aren’t ready to buy.
Often used for serious buyers, these may signal that buyers are particularly interested in specific properties. They often occur after a buyer has seen a house through a lockbox showing or open house.
Private showings also allow a seller’s agent to accompany the tour and be able to answer questions. This can help if the seller’s agent doesn’t try too hard to sell the house.
Buyer’s agents are also likely to point out any problems they see during a showing. This may include roof leaks, peeling paint, worn-carpet, and other issues.
Critical remarks from buyer’s agents are another reason homeowners should not be present during showings. If the seller’s agent is present, he or she will likely note any problems. Ideally, these will be shared with the homeowner and addressed before the next showing. This can help make the house more attractive.
Tip: As a rule of thumb, homeowners should not be present during showings. Buyers feel less pressured without a homeowner following them around pointing out attractive features of the home.
One important part of a showing takes place before the walk through. This is when the property is staged, or prepared for showings. The idea behind staging is simple: a home should look at its best when potential buyers see it.
Staging can involve a lot or a little. Some house sellers employ professionals to redecorate and refurnish the home entirely.
A few basic staging practices include:
- Keep the house clean. Dust and vacuum daily
- Pick up all litter such as magazines, dishes and toys
- Remove and storing excess furniture that makes rooms look cramped and small
- Open curtains to let in natural light. Consider removing sun-blocking screens
- Remove pets
- Make all beds and put attractive towels in bathrooms
- Take trash out at least daily and preferably before each showing
- Turn off televisions, game consoles and stereos
House sellers can spend thousands on professional staging. However, most homes are sold with only basic staging.
Real Estate Showings Round-Up
Some houses for sale get an offer after a single showing. Some may not even need to be shown. This can happen if the buyer is an investor. An investor may not be as particular about individual house features.
Other homes may need to be shown many times over a period of months. House sellers may tire of keeping a home in pristine condition for a long time.
Sellers may also be bothered by showings at inconvenient times or on very short notice. However, house showing is a fundamental real estate sales tool. Making a home available for showings will probably be essential to finding a buyer.
One potential problem with a real estate showing can occur if an agent does not lock up the home. Agents should be careful to check all doors after a showing. House sellers should do likewise.
Real estate showings are basic marketing tools for house sellers and real estate professionals. Prospective home buyers rely on them for important market insight.
Real estate showings aren’t necessarily complex or tricky to conduct. But flexibility and realistic expectations on the part of homeowners may be necessary. And careful staging helps.
When real estate professionals carry out showings responsibly, interests of home sellers and buyers are advanced and protected. Greater understanding of showings by buyers and sellers can help produce smooth transactions that benefit all parties.
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