Selling Our Own Home – Day 7

home-for-saleSaturday and we’ve ended up with 5 showings. Not bad for a first weekend on the market considering how things are going in [tag]real estate[/tag] right now and the fact that it is still early April. Actually we weren’t really looking at selling in April but it was important for us to get out there first to help set the price in our market. Here is how to handle showings when you are [tag]selling your own home[/tag].

When you are selling your own home, you have to handle all of the things your [tag]realtor[/tag] would normally do for you. With a realtor, their number is on the sign and on the [tag]MLS listing[/tag] and they get the phone calls and set the showings based on your instructions. Obviously, without a realtor it is your number on the sign and you get the calls to set the showings.

The first thing you want to do is to use your cell phone number. Although [tag]real estate agents[/tag] try to plan ahead like everyone else, they are working for their clients and if their client doesn’t confirm or get back to them or whatever until the last minute, then the agent is working at the last minute too. You don’t want to miss a showing because you are out walking your dog.

Second, change your cell phone message to something like:

“Hi, you’ve reached Bill Smith. If you are calling about the property at 5555 Main St, the asking price is $600,000 and it is 2000 sq. ft. with 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. If you would like to set a showing or have any questions please leave your name, number, and the day and time you would like to do the showing and I will get back to you as soon as possible.”

Now, when a realtor or their assistant or just someone walking by your sign calls they know, that they have the right number and most importantly that you are the one scheduling the showings. This is important because some realtors don’t schedule their own [tag]showings[/tag]. They have someone in the office do it for them. By letting them know that you are the contact they know that they don’t have to put any more effort into setting up the showing which is important when you have 4 clients each seeing 7 houses on Saturday.

When you get a call, if at all possible, answer it. Don’t let it go to voicemail. A real estate agent might be calling at noon to set five showings between 2:00pm and 3:00pm before meeting with another client. That means if you don’t take the call, you might not get the showing. Don’t worry if there are kids in the background or a lawn mower out front. Remember most realtors work out of their homes, so no one expects you to be in a cubicle somewhere when you answer the phone. This also applies to answering in the grocery store or the mall or whatever. Real estate agents take calls anywhere anytime.

When you answer keep in mind that realtors expect to be calling a receptionist at some real estate office. I started by answering the phone “This is Joe,” which is how my real estate agent answers when I call her. What I didn’t realise is that she doesn’t schedule the showings, so this isn’t how the phone gets answered for that. My method led to a lot of dead air and confusion where realtors would say “Um…I’m sorry (thinking they have the wrong number) … I’m trying to set a showing for 5555 Main St?” Instead, answer your phone with the deliberately vague “Thank you for calling. This is Joe.” That’s enough words to make someone think they’ve called the right office.

You can expect showings to be in blocks of 1 to 2 hours depending on how many houses they are seeing. Thus, a one hour showing means they are seeing fewer houses. If you think you might be there say so. “There should be someone there to let you in.” If you won’t be give the lockbox combination. “Ok, you are set for 3:00pm to 4:00pm on Thursday, the lockbox combination is 9238.”

It is best if you can not be home when the agent and clients show up. The agent will be fine, but some people find it awkward to meet a new person while looking through their house. Put your lockbox on the door with a key. I like to set the combination to something so that I know if they have already been there or not. For example, I set the combo dials to 2233 and then if I come back and the numbers on the lock are 5832 that means someone has put the key back and scrambled the numbers.

If the person setting the showing is not a realtor you might have to guide them through the process a little. Most people don’t know what it takes to see inside a home that is for sale because their realtor has always done it for them in the past. Just walk them through it.

“When would you like to see it?”

If the person does not have a Realtor, then DO NOT leave your house during the showing. Don’t follow them around, but stay near the door. This way you know they aren’t loading your stuff up in a truck. A real estate agent gives you some security because they shouldn’t be letting their clients walk off with your stuff. That said, be smart. Don’t leave out things that are small and valuable. Put your jewlery box in storage somewhere out of site. Same thing for money, watches, or anything else that fits in a pocket. There is no need to hide your stereo, that isn’t likely. For the most part you are worried about someone seeing something and putting it in their pocket.

Don’t worry about scheduling multiple showings at once. If you get the chance to set three showings between 2:00 and 3:00, do it. It happens all the time.

If you have any special instructions, now is the time. Unless you just had your white carpets cleaned try not to make people take off their shoes. It just makes it that much harder to make someone feel at home in your house. Also, it goes without saying that people won’t be smoking or bringing pets into your house, so don’t bother saying anything. If you have a dog or cat, it is best if you can put them away somehow (out back, in the garage, on a walk with you) so that they don’t interfer. If you can’t or won’t be sure to tell the person scheduling the showing that there is a dog and he is friendly. That way, everyone knows what to expect. Also, if there is anything funny, like a strange lock on the backdoor let someone know now.

That’s it. Your showings are scheduled and people can start to see your wonderful house.

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