Selling your Home? How not to Sabotage your Showings

We have thousands of clients every year who hire us to deploy our tried and true marketing systems. These have proven results which is why a lot of people hire our REALTORS®. The seller sits back, puts their feet up and relaxes and we’ll get it done for them, Right?! Wrong! Selling your home is a partnership between you, the homeowner, the REALTOR® and the Brokerage working with you. We have some of the most successful tactics and strategies in the industry but none of them are going to sell your house if you don’t do your part. In fact, you as the seller have the most important job out of all of us. You’re the person who prepares your home to be viewed. You’re the last one to put your eyes on it, see its condition and you’re the only one that can fix, repair or clean it in order for it to be ready for the Calgary real estate market. The best marketing systems in the world can’t take care of this for you. Here are a few tips on how not to sabotage your showings during the home selling process:

Think Like a Buyer

The best thing you can do while preparing for picture day or for any showings is to adjust your mindset. You have to be able to unwind a little from your life and adopt the buyers mindset. Try to think of the showing the same way a buyer would. Put yourself in their shoes and consider that they are about to make one of life’s biggest financial decisions. They may not know anything about the local community, the neighbourhood or your house. They are nervous, excited and scared all at the same time. It may be their first home, their parents may be speaking in their ear and they don’t want to get it wrong. They may also be worried about their children, safety and whither or not their family will fit in and feel at home here. In any case, you can imagine that it is a daunting experience for all of the parties involved including you.

Look at the Big Picture

When you’re contemplating whether or not your home is ready to be viewed start the journey off your property. Consider the impression on the buyer as they approach your home. Have a look at the street in and around the home, if there is any garbage or debris clean it up. Showings can be lost before they even begin by no fault of your property if a buyer doesn’t think the neighbourhood is well cared for. We’ve gone as far as having swept the street next to the curb where we believe they may park when they arrive. Once they exit their vehicle they see and smell everything in front of them. Is the grass cut, is the yard clean? How about your neighbours, do they keep their property up? I’ve had to mow my neighbours lawns more than once to make sure they don’t have a negative impact on my sale.

As the buyer approaches the front door is the paint on the exterior surface as crisp as possible? Often times, things like deck stain or paint can be easily freshened up to give a good impression. If they are worn off it does the opposite and in fact can make an inquisitive person start to look closer at them. If there is no painting to do is the entrance area clean? In Alberta the air is dusty and that dust settles on the surfaces of our homes. You’ll be amazed at how much better the front of your home looks if you take a soapy bucket of water and a brush and wipe off all of the surfaces at your entrance. Look for any dry dirt or water stains from the last rain, check for surface mold on railings, window sills and concrete. Caulking is often something that needs a little cleaning outside. Remember, that buyers spend some time here in a unoccupied state of mind while the REALTOR® is opening the lock-box. It’s wise to make sure the windows are dressed properly, the blinds are open and any curtains are as they should be. They are looking around and checking out the outside of your home so it’s worth the effort.

Make the Viewing ‘Sense’-sational

Once the buyer is inside your home we usually see them take a look at what they can see from the entry before they get to taking off their shoes. This is a crucial moment for the buyer. They are allowing their senses to be stimulated. They are taking in the smell of the home, the warmth and the general condition. If your entryway needs work, it is money and time well spent. Every REALTOR® that has been working in the industry for a while has a story about clients coming into a home, taking one look and going right back out the door. Usually it’s because you failed to provide a positive experience that was attentive to their senses. Think about what they see, smell, hear and feel. Some of the big culprits that turn off buyers sense of smell are Cats, Spices and Floral Scents. We all know that hundreds of thousands of home owners have lovely little furry companions in their homes that bring love, life and energy to the home. I’m not saying to keep your pets out but I am saying that the smell of ammonia or cat litter in a home is almost always a turn off for the buyer. They can’t get passed it and it will be a major barrier for selling your home. Often pet owners don’t realize this smell exists in their home and they are insulted when we tell them but that’s because you’re accustomed to it. Ask someone close to you to be brutally honest with you and to tell you if these smells are present. Many many pet owners don’t have this issue, it’s true and I’m sure you’re thinking that “my house doesn’t smell like that” and you may be right but we’ve heard so many times and had to break it to a home owner that it is an issue. That’s not something we want to do and it’s just as uncomfortable for us as it is you but you hired us as a professional and it’s our job to help you get your home sold so please don’t shoot the messenger. If you have cats, contemplate which surfaces they have sprayed or pee’d on and replace any of the carpet areas that are applicable after they’ve been washed with disinfectant. Please make sure the kitty litter is cleaned just before you go out the door so we can’t smell it when the buyer arrives.

Floral scents and Spice are the same, they are odours that stick to things and turn off the buyers. I had an agent recently tell me that he was in a home filled with spice smells. He left that showing and went to meet clients at another location and they actually asked him if he had enjoyed some spicy food for lunch. Buyers don’t want to try to clean these things out of a home, it’s like smoking. Unless, they are going to continue in the same way and are not sensitive to it.

Clear the Way

From the entrance your buyers are going to proceed through the home. Please make sure everything is off the floor, there are no tripping hazards or obstacles in the common travel routes. During this phase buyers are generally just observing the space. It’s common for them to become side tracked with the items in the home and pay attention to your furniture instead of the space. Decluttering is imperative, keep all of the horizontal surfaces clean and uncluttered but still decorated. It’s helpful to have paintings on the walls and in my opinion your family photos are okay too. They need to visualize themselves in the space and that can help them.

You can imagine that the buyer doesn’t feel totally comfortable in someone else’s home so they may not do things like open the blinds and curtains. You should already have done that for them. Open all the curtains and blinds, check all of the light-bulbs in and lamps and be sure that the home will have a nice bright feel to it. It’s imperative on an overcast day or even for an evening showing. They will get a warm cozy feeling when everything is lit up and ready for them.

While walking through your kitchen, they are imagining the work surfaces, can two or more people cook and prepare food here? If your kitchen has undefined spaces it can be helpful to put a large cutting board out to demonstrate that it can be a work surface. Otherwise, clear off that counter, allowing it to appear to be as large as possible. Open your drawers and make sure everything has a place, things shouldn’t been thrown in on top of one another. Sometime it’s helpful to remove some things from your cabinets if they are jammed packed full. If a buyer sees that they feel like there aren’t enough cabinets almost instantly. I’ve had minimalists tell me that the kitchen is too small because of the cabinets being overloaded even when I know it’s bigger than the one they have. Remember, someone’s perception is their reality.

Let them Snoop

Buyers will usually see your common areas (depending on your layout) before heading to the bedrooms where they should see all of the beds made with nice clean bedspreads. Pillows organized and intentionally placed at the headboard and no clothing on the floor. Keep in mind that the buyers will look into your closets, the same concept applies as in the kitchen cabinets.

In the bathroom, sinks, showers and toilets should all be spotless. No spots, signs of use or dust build up of any kind. The counters should be clear of anything being placed on them and the medicine cabinet should be free of any prescribed pharmaceuticals.

Keep weapons locked and out of sight, recreational materials stored away and organized. In the garage the buyers want to know about the power supply and storage, please keep them unencumbered and accessible.

If your home has any special features or items that aren’t typically found in an average house hold work with your REALTOR® beforehand to prepare some educational signs that can be displayed throughout the home to explain it to the buyers. This is usually really appreciated by the buyers REALTOR® and the buyers alike. Something that wouldn’t be understood can become fun, interesting and not so alarming.

The Final Touch

In current times it’s nice if you supply hand sanitizer near the entrance that will be used for the buyers. It shows that you respect their safety and makes a passive suggestion that they should use it which could protect your home.

Lastly, please make sure you put out the information books and feature sheet that the REALTOR® has spent time and money creating for your home. If these are done properly they will help the buyers REALTOR® and the buyers better understand your home and the community.

We do appreciate you working with us to sell your home, we see it as a partnership and I’m sure you can see how your part of getting the job done is absolutely paramount for a successful experience. You’ll also find that our REALTORS® are so vested in your success that if anything at all becomes a barrier for you we are always happy to find an amendable solution in order to get the job done. We have a reputation for going above and beyond for our clients. We’re all working hard to represent you and the industry in the best way possible and to #BeTheBenchmark for others in the industry. We appreciate all of you!

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