Jon Ness - Licensed Realtor and Business Partner
As houses go on the market and buyers start their search, Jon Ness, licensed realtor and partner at the Berg Larsen Group, shares his best tips on surviving showings. For buyers and sellers alike, showings season is an exciting and busy time. We are here to help you stay prepared and organized amid this active spring season. By following Jon’s advice to put extra work in ahead of time, you can do more than just survive showings - you might even enjoy them.
It’s the Little Things
Before putting your house on the market, we recommend hiring professionals to do the first round of deep cleaning. Hiring a team to do the initial sweep makes your upkeep between showings easier to maintain. When prospective buyers walk through your home, we want to provide them with a clean slate for envisioning their lives there.
After you finish a deep clean, maintenance between showings will be manageable. Jon recommends that you walk through your house and yard before each prospective buyer arrives. Keeping your front entryway tidy is a great place to start. As you finish putting coats and shoes away, make sure that any paths to the front door are cleared as well. While you’re outside, be certain to clean any animal waste in the yard; no matter the windchill, prospective buyers may want to explore the property. As you clear the exterior, peek in your garage to see if it needs any rearranging. Jon advises that you should avoid using your garage for storage as potential buyers may perceive that the house doesn’t have ample storage space.
Once you head inside, double-check that your house is at a comfortable temperature. For those who aren’t currently living in their home, don’t forget to turn up the heat. As you walk through your house, turn on all the lights and see if they are the same hue. Ensuring that your lightbulbs are the same hue adds a seamless feel to the interior. Following our philosophy that “30% of the floor can be covered,” open your closet doors and see if anything needs to be organized. Jon reminds clients to hit spots that are easy to forget, such as the utility room. Giving the room a quick wipe down and putting a filter in your furnace shows buyers that the house has been well taken care of.
As a showing time moves closer, avoid putting out any air fresheners or lighting candles. Using strong scents can have an adverse effect on people with allergies or other sensitivities. Instead, use this time to finish any last-minute cleaning or if you’re really ambitious follow Kate Wall’s suggestion of baking cookies.
Lights, Camera, Action!
Curating your home to appeal to potential buyers extends beyond cleanliness. Part of creating the blank canvas for buyers is staging. For people living in their homes, we can recommend a team to stage with the furniture that you already have. If your home is vacant, there are stagers who bring in furniture and decor to emphasize the space, and occasionally digital staging might be an option.
“When it comes to staging, you will get your money’s worth and more.” For three- to four-bedroom homes, staging can range from $3-4k. This is an investment; homes that are staged tend to sell quicker and for more money than if they were vacant or filled with lots of personal belongings and decor. Now that your house is ready to go, it is time to get potential buyers in the door.
When it comes to scheduling showings, home sellers have the flexibility to accommodate their needs. Generally, you’ll have a few hours of notice before a showing which is why having a deep clean in advance is so beneficial. If a prospective buyer requests a showing that doesn’t fit into your schedule, instead of declining, we recommend suggesting another time.
The average number of showings for your house will depend on the price. For example, a home that is listed for $500k could have as many as 30 showings lined up in its first weekend on the market, whereas a house that is going for $3 million might have fewer than five showings in total while on market. Jon attributes this difference to the fact that oftentimes buyers looking in the higher price range are not first-time homeowners and generally have a better sense of what they are looking for.
With the latest technology at your fingertips, why is it important to attend showings?
“Pictures, floorplans, and videos are your first showing. When they come in real life, it’s their second showing.” People who are scheduling showings have already predetermined that they are interested in your house. Now, it is your job to make sure that your home matches up to what they saw online.
Thanks to high-quality photos, drones, and virtual tours, you can learn the ins and outs of a home before ever stepping foot in it. However, Jon emphasizes that you can’t know everything through the screen. For example, perhaps there are railroad tracks behind the fence or an office building next door. These could be deal breakers for buyers and without an in-person visit, their existence or impact is unknown.
The abundance of technology has also allowed buyers to be more educated than ever before. However, access to information about houses online hasn’t minimized the value of real estate agents. The information on listing sites is not always accurate which can be misleading for those who don’t have access to the MLS database. Having a licensed Realtor on your team makes form completion, price negotiation, and access to property information available.
For our buyers: “If you find a house that you want to see - don’t wait!”
As a buyer, being quick is essential during the showings season. If you find a house on Monday, don’t wait until the weekend to schedule a showing because an offer could already be accepted by then. When scheduling a tour, it is important to show up on time since showings don’t let groups overlap.
Being timely is not only applicable to scheduling showings but in being financially prepared as well. To expedite the homebuying process, we recommend that buyers are pre-approved and have their earnest money in liquid form. To learn more about the pre-approval process and get prepared to move, check out our earlier blog.
Staging and deep cleaning is done and now someone has scheduled a showing - you need to be ready to head out shortly. Surviving showings can seem overwhelming, but our team has plenty of ideas. Jon suggests doing one final walk-through “to ensure everything is tidy and how you would like it to be presented.” He offers a few ideas to minimize your stress: Keep a laundry basket or tote by the door to collect any last-minute items that you can easily stash in your car. Have a destination in mind - a local coffee shop, a friend’s house or even running errands. Grab your laptop and charger and keep a few snacks and beverages ready to grab on the way out the door. If you know that you have back-to-back showings lined up, be sure to make plans for your pets.
Have a showing in a few hours? Here’s what you need to do!
- Shovel any walkways or driveways
- Wash and put away any dishes
- Clear off and wipe down surfaces such as tables and countertops
- Make your bed
- Put the toilet seat down
- Turn on all of your lights and make sure that they all work
- Put out a rug or boot tray at the entrance to avoid shoe prints throughout the house