Who should show viewers around your house? Over the years, I’ve heard many arguments for and against the homeowner showing their home to potential buyers. There are agents who will always tell a vendor to conduct viewings themselves, saying “you’re the best person to show people round; after all, you know your home better than anyone,” and on the other hand, just as many agents who believe they should accompany every viewer, with the argument “buyers often feel uncomfortable with the seller, as they are unable to say what they really think of the house”. In my view, both are right, but only to a point. Here’s to the Who’s Who of Viewings:
The first viewing on your home should always be accompanied by your estate agent. They are the expert – not in your home, admittedly – but in selling! They are (or should be) trained to listen for buying signals, and respond professionally and skillfully to ensure the buyer feels comfortable and secure enough to share their thoughts and feedback with them. The best course of action, is for you to prepare your home yourself for the viewing: light lamps, ensure the central heating is at the right comfort level, but still leave the house aired, light the fire, and leave it looking absolutely gorgeous whilst still homely. Once you’ve done this, go out! Walk the dog, pop out for dinner, go next door for a coffee: whatever you need to do to make yourself scarce. Leave the agent your mobile number so he can call you once the viewing is over and it’s safe to return.
On a second viewing, it’s good to be there. A couple of exceptions to this rule: if only one of a couple has viewed the first time, then the second viewing is actually a first viewing for one of them, so needs to be treated accordingly. The other rule is much harder to gauge, especially if you’re the seller! If you or your lifestyle is fundamentally different from that of your potential buyer, then it’s best if you keep yourself scarce. For example, if you’re in you’re in your nineties and married, and your viewer is in his twenties, and a bachelor, then there’s no way he will connect with you or the house in any way, other than as a ‘project’, and you can only sabotage that vision.
Otherwise, prepare your home as before, and allow the agent to let the viewers in and to have a look round, unaccompanied if possible. Then, time your return for around twenty minutes or so into the viewing. If they are really serious about buying your house, they will be there at least that long. When you arrive, introduce yourself and shake their hands warmly, then offer to make them a cup of tea or coffee, adding that you’re making one yourself. It’s a good idea to have a prior agreement with your agent that if this part of the viewing is going well, they should actually make themselves scarce, perhaps leaving to go to another viewing. Then you can settle down to focus on building rapport with your potential buyers, and answering any questions they may have with interest and enthusiasm. As they leave, again shake their hands warmly, and let them know they can contact you at any time with any further questions.
All being well, your viewers may at this point put an offer in. If they have met you, they are much less likely to make a very low offer! Human nature and our traditional English reserve will usually mean that it is just too embarrassing to risk the possibility of causing offence to a seller you have met, by submitting a potentially insulting offer. Meeting your buyers will also help to ensure that negotiations start on the right footing, will consideration and respect on either side, and a genuine motivation to find a middle ground acceptable to both parties.
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