You never get a second chance when showing your home. Once your home goes on the market and it is launched on the MLS, your home must look its best. So, cleaning and decluttering and small fixings are a first step. Besides keeping your house tidy during showings, there are few more things that can help to make showings pleasant experiences for buyers. Here are some tips on how to make the best of every showing.
How showings in Calgary usually work
In Calgary, every realtor can show every home that is listed on the MLS. In most cases, potential buyers have their own (buying) realtor to help, advise and negotiate the purchase of a home. Usually, buyers receive listings via the MLS that match their criteria. Then the buyers will pick the properties they like to see, and their realtor will request a time to view these properties. Most common in Calgary is to request a time slot of one hour per home. Sometimes, buyers will only see one property a day, while other days these same buyers may see a handful properties in one day. Most visits take 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the home. And it is during this time that most buyers decide on a yes, no or a maybe. Sellers only have a short window to present their property as best as possible, so it is important to keep it clean and tidy and make the showing a good experience.
Here follow some tips to make showings go as smooth as possible, when your home is for sale. We admit that some tips seem like no-brainers, but since 2009, we have seen it all!
Accommodate every showing
Try to accommodate every request for a viewing
However, if there are known concerns in regard to timing, any listing realtor can leave a note in the remarks for showing agents. If it is a special day and you have a family gathering, for example, you may ask not to show during that time. A few other examples are to request no showings after 7:00 pm because of small children, or because a seller needs at least 4 hours between request and showings. Most often, we see this last request when people need to ‘load up’ some pets. The point is to let buying agents know about any timing issues beforehand, so buying agents can anticipate this before the showing request.
It is a best a practice to arrange showings as quickly as possible, just to avoid losing potential buyers. But, in essence, a seller who has a home listed on the MLS must show the property within 24 hours after the initial request. If the seller can’t accommodate a showing within 24 hours, the home may be withdrawn from the MLS.
Remove yourself during showings
Buyers don’t feel comfortable discussing things while the seller is around
Only rarely it is accepted that a seller stays home during the viewing. An example is when the owner is elderly and can’t leave the home easily. Sometimes, tenants prefer to stay in the home during a showing, as well. This scenario isn’t preferred, either. Besides the fact that it is uncomfortable for buyers to discuss things about the home, buyers can potentially decide to ask the renters questions about the property. If the comments are positive, great, but, if not, it may take much longer to sell your home.
Overall, if it is unavoidable to have people stay in the home during showings, let the buying agent know upfront. As well, try to give the buyers as much privacy as possible during this time of showing.
Recording sound and use of cameras during showings
Don’t use any recording devices in your home while there is a showing
If a seller does not want to turn off a camera or a recording, it is strongly advised to contact the privacy commissioner about rules and regulations.
In the past, we have heard about several scenarios where recording devices did damage to a potential sale. Sellers can hear the negative remarks and take them personally, and even get angry. Buyers can talk positively about a property, and then the buyers lose their negotiation power, since the sellers have overheard the discussions.
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Remove dogs and cats
Remove pets during showings, if possible. Some people are afraid of dogs and cats or, perhaps, allergic to them. If you are not able to remove pets, then make sure they cannot easily escape. If your cat likes to escape, leave a note on the door of the room in which the cat is locked, so people are aware that a cat is in that room. It is very disturbing if the showing realtor and the buyers need to pay more attention to an escape artist than to actually view the home. Also, here, a selling realtor can give showing realtors clear instructions about pets staying in the home.
If possible, remove dog poop in the backyard before the showing starts.
Let all possible natural light into the home
Everyone loves natural light in a home, so make sure all the drapes and window coverings are open. If possible, also during the day, turn on all the lights. If showings are at night, and you are not able to turn on lights because, for example, the property is vacant, turn on at least the outside lamp. If you can’t leave lights on, you may consider timers on some lamps, so potential buyers walk into a lit home.
Avoid strong scents
Bad smells may have more effect on the sale of a home than one may think
Before leaving the home for a viewing, don’t forget to check the smell of the garbage bin and the garburator.
If you want to make a room smell pleasant, consider a naturally sourced aroma. The internet offers many tips to get your home smelling nice without any strong chemicals. These range from potpourri to dryer sheets in your garbage bin and a few vanilla drops in the oven before a showing.
If possible, leave soft music playing in the living room.
If you are not comfortable to leave the alarm system turned off during a viewing, at least give the showing agent very clear instructions on its location and how to turn it off and on. Showing a home while the alarm screams at 100 decibels is quite uncomfortable.
Sticky keys and doors
When your home gets listed, a lockbox, which holds the keys, gets installed. This lockbox can only be opened by realtors. If your door is difficult to open, or the key is sticky, consider having the issue getting fixed before the home goes on the market. If fixing it is not an option, then leave a clear note about this, for the showing realtor. Make sure all keys work, and make sure to check the key when it was just duplicated. These new automated machines for key duplication don’t always work as they should. If there is a garage with a lock, keep the keys together, on one ring, in the lockbox. Alternatively, it is a good option to leave a key on the kitchen counter, with the note to return it there.
Showings during the winter time in Calgary
A listing agent has several ways to give particular instructions to the showing agent
If the home is vacant, make sure that at least the outside lamp is on, and stays on. You can easily use some tape to keep the light switch on, and a yellow sticky to confirm that the outside light needs to stay on. There is nothing worse than trying to find the lockbox in the dark, and try to open it while it is -26C.
Always make sure that the sidewalk and the path to the front door are kept free of snow. If the property is vacant, ask a professional company to remove the snow. You don’t want a potential buyer to slip and fall while walking up to your front door.
If it is winter, make sure there is large doormat to keep snow and dirt on the mat. Often, showings are done with at least 3 people, a buying couple, and a realtor, who most all have (or should have) the manners to take off their shoes without leaving a mess of melting snow and dirt. Try to picture it being -25C outside, while 3 people try to get in quickly, while trying to play a “musical mat game” on a tiny mat.
Realize that any showing in Calgary’s winter condition means that the potential buyers are motivated buyers!
Leave pictures of views and summer gardens
It is perfectly fine to leave photos on the kitchen table for the buyers to see. Mountain views are gone on a foggy day, and a nicely landscaped yard doesn’t show at all when it is covered in snow. Sometimes, sellers leave recent invoices of expensive upgrades such as windows or the furnace. This, as well, is just fine and it gives potentially good information.
Leave any necessary instructions for the showing realtor
A listing agent has several ways to give particular instructions to the showing agent, be it just to prepare the realtor for pets, tenants staying in the home or keys being sticky. A prepared realtor can make a showing a smoother experience for the buyers without too many obstacles.
Last but not least, tidy up the home before every showing. Make sure your home is sparkling clean throughout the process of selling. Buyers easily get a wrong impression over one small issue. We sometimes joke about it, but, eventually, it is the way it can work: buyers may interpret something like a broken light bulb as an indication that the home has electrical issues. A dirty or smelly home may suggest that a seller hasn’t taken good care of the home.
Before listing your home, declutter, depersonalize and clean it, and make repairs where possible. Putting in the time and effort before selling will save you the most money because the possibility of selling your home faster and/or for more money will significantly increase. For more tips and ideas on de-cluttering and cleaning, go to selling your house, where to start?
We are Tanja van de Kamp and Ariette van Pelt, working as a team, both buying and selling homes in Calgary. Calgary has been our home since 2004, and real estate our full-time profession since 2009. Tanja was a lawyer in The Netherlands for 12 years, and learned how to negotiate strategically, and to work in the best interests of her clients. Thanks to our honest and transparent approach to real estate and towards our clients, we have built our business.
It’s been a privilege to work with our clients. Over the years, many clients, through their many referrals, have shown their appreciation of us.