Active Rain February 28, 2011

2 Reasons Why Sellers Should Not Show Buyers Their House

Karen Crowson wrote a thought-provoking post asking whether it was a good idea or not for buyers and sellers to meet before closing. In spite of many examples of my own transactions where buyers and sellers did hit it off well, my vote would be “no.” There are two main reasons. 

1. Potential for conflict. 
2. Sellers can’t sell. 

Potential conflict is a huge problem and should be avoided. So what if the principals meet and like each other? The deal closes. It was supposed to close. So there isn’t an advantage that I can see, but huge downside potantial. As I type this, I have a seller client in her driveway with her arms folded, watching her buyer, who closes next week, load his belongings into her garage. The pre-possession agreement didn’t specify where the stuff would be stored, but she agreed to the basement. The buyer, who is acting like the house is his already, is putting her off with his attitude as he piles his belongings in her garage. We should have insisted they put their stuff in storage for a week- but buyer and seller spoke, and that was that. Now my client has boxes of her things in the same garage as her buyer’s possessions. Not good. 

On another transaction, I represented the buyers buying a home from retired sellers who were present for all showings. The owner breathed down our neck every visit and didn’t know how to shut his yap. Toward the end of the process near the closing, we needed to get back in to walk contractors through. He wouldn’t let us. Why? We “stayed too long” in previous walks through the house. Ridiculous. 

Sellers can’t sell. Some sellers think they can sell. And they know the house best. But that is often the booby prize. I listed a house once where the buyer agents would call or email me with bizarre, arcane questions on the structure of the house-qustions about the stucco siding, the crawl space sealant under an addition built 50 years ago, and weird stuff like that. We the sellers present for showings? Yup. And they were non stop chatterboxes about every physical detail of the structure with such granular detail that the buyers heads were spinning when they left. Instead of asking themselves if the place felt like home, they’d ask themselves if they heard my clients right about the date the windows were installed, if the attic insulation was R-30 or something else, and so forth. 

Information overload doesan’t make a place feel like home. It kills sales. I know sellers want the showing agents to be jumping up and down “selling” and “pushing” and “closing” but it doesn’t work that way. A house is the largest transaction of a lifetime. It isn’t jewelry or a car. If it doesn’t feel like home, no detail in the world will matter. If it does feel like home, then buyers will make the best buying signal I know: They’ll ask questions. And that is your chance to show your peacock feathers- through your agent. 

For these and many, many many other reasons I have personally seen in my 16 years in the industry, I am for buyers and sellers working through their brokers. It is the best way, it minimizes exposure to risk, and it gets homes sold.