It's 2 pm on a Wednesday. A listing agent receives a call from a buyer's agent. The buyer's agent wants to show one of the listing agent's properties to a "very motivated" client — four hours from now.
However, the home's listing states that the sellers have a newborn
baby at home and need 24 hours notice for a private showing. The listing
agent reminds the buyer's agent of this, requests more advance notice,
and suggests that the buyer attend Sunday's open house.
The buyer's agent doesn't respond, and this "serious" buyer is a
no-show on Sunday. In short: If the listing agent hadn't been down this
road before, he'd have sent his clients scrambling just to accommodate a
Showing property is essential to the home selling process, of course.
But there are things that buyers, sellers, and agents should be aware
of regarding open houses, private showings, and lock boxes.
The Open House
Most people making their first foray into the real estate market usually pick up the local paper or launch the Zillow iPad app
on Sunday morning and decide to check out open houses that afternoon.
Open houses, which are typically held Sunday afternoons but sometimes
also on Saturdays, are ideal for that. Attending open houses helps
buyers get a feel for the market without committing to an agent or the
Open houses are great for sellers, too, because they can be assured
that, within a two- or three-hour time slot, a good number of buyers can
get in to see the property.
But open houses are truly open to anyone — and yes, that
includes some nosy neighbors. Many agents throw up sandwich boards on
nearby street corners to encourage as many people to come as possible.
At some point, a buyer will go to an open house and the property
seems like a good fit. They want to see it again, but this time, in a
Private showings can be a challenge for some sellers, especially
those currently living in the property. It requires maintaining the home
in its "staged" appearance and then getting out of the house before the
buyers and their agent show up.
Because private showings can be so intrusive, sellers who live in the
home and their agents try to reserve them for serious buyers. Ideally,
those buyers have attended at least open house and need more time to
take a closer look. The buyer usually wants to feel at liberty to poke
around and really get a feel for the place. It's a huge decision they're
making, and they need the opportunity to investigate the property
without feeling rushed.
Lock Box Showings
some cases, the home for sale is vacant. Or the sellers work all day
out of the house. In this case, the property can be much easier to show.
To make it easier for everyone, a lock box is placed on the front door.
Inside the box is the key to the home, and agents use their local MLS
key to open the lock box and get the key inside.
For a newer buyer in the market who may not be available on the
weekends, lock box properties can be a good way to start getting a feel
for the market. Also, if an agent has an out-of-town buyer coming in for
just a day to see properties, lock box listings might be the way to go.
The buyer can come into town for a few hours to get educated on the
Lock boxes can also enable buyers and their agents to pop in and out
quickly of a property, without having to time their visit to an open
house or arrange for a private showing. This is an easy way for buyers
to get up to speed quickly on the types of properties available.
Advice for Buyers and Sellers
Buyers and their agents should be mindful of the home-viewing process
and always be respectful of the seller and the listing agent's time.
Sellers who are serious about getting their home sold should be ready
for anything. Always keep your home tidy and as close to staged
condition as possible. Private showings may be inconvenient — but they
may also lead to a sale.
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