Viewings: should you stay or should you go?

Selling a property is never easy. Subtle details – from mismatched scatter cushions, to an unswept kitchen – can spell the difference between a potential buyer making an offer, or scratching your property off their list altogether. As much as you would love to be around to hear the passing comments as buyers amble through your abode, by choosing to remain at home during a showing, you set yourself at risk of becoming exactly that “subtle detail” that gets in the way of an offer. 

“Sellers should do all they can to get their homes sold as quickly as possible if they want to avoid the frustrations of having their property on the market for a prolonged period of time,” advises Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. “The minor inconvenience of having to leave your house during a showing is better than the inconvenience of having your house remain on the market indefinitely.” 

The problem with remaining at home during a viewing is that you inhibit potential buyers from conducting a thorough inspection of your home. Buyers need time to picture how their furniture will fit into the various areas, to open cupboards and explore the storage space, and to revisit rooms to get a better feeling for the home – none of which they feel comfortable to do when they think the homeowner could be lurking behind the next corner, or sat frustratingly in the lounge eagerly anticipating their departure so they can get back to their Netflix episode. 

“When a seller is in the home, buyers feel rushed to get through the viewing quickly as not to take up too much of the seller’s time. This is vital time that a buyer needs in order to decide whether or not this property could work for his or her needs,” Goslett explains. 

Apart from rushing the viewing, having the seller around also prevents open dialogue between the buyer and the estate agent. Buyers often feel too shy or polite to ask their agent any questions that might insult the homeowner if they think they might be within earshot. Many of the buyer’s apprehensions could be resolved easily if only the issues had received the space to be voiced and responded to.        

“Many sellers choose to hang around during a showing so that they can step in if they overhear a question being asked that their estate agent cannot answer. The problem is that this can often create the impression that the seller is desperate for the sale – a position no seller wants to find themselves in. Beyond this, homeowners usually end up oversharing, and can give away details that could affect the sale,” says Goslett.       
Estate agents know how to market your house, and know what topics are better avoided. On the other hand, homeowners often are not aware of the implications of their words. In a worst case scenario, homeowners have even been known to accidentally let slip the minimum offer they would be willing to accept, which leads to a lower selling price than what could have been arranged through the agent. 

Many homeowners also do not trust the agent to look after their home and their possessions in the same way that they would, and choose to remain in the house in order to ensure that no items mysteriously disappear during the viewing. This is most often an unwarranted concern, as a responsible agent will advise homeowners to place any valuable possessions out of eye sight before a viewing, and will be sure to keep an eye on the buyers as they walk through the property. 

“The fact remains that the majority of buyers feel uncomfortable when a seller is at home during a viewing. Consequently, it is important to choose reputable agents you can trust. That way you can feel safe to leave during viewings with the knowledge that the sale of your home is in good hands,” Goslett concludes.   

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