The actual act of going out and looking at houses seems pretty fun, especially when you watch buyers and REALTORS® on TV. Usually, it’s some of the most rewarding time we get to spend as Agents. It’s the time when you truly get to know your buyers, what they like, and - more importantly - who they really are. Unfortunately, what TV doesn’t show and the public doesn’t see is all the preparation that occurs before getting to the point where you're actually at a house and unlocking the door.
In a previous article, we talked about buyer needs assessment; that article gives you an inkling of the type of homework that needs to happen before going out and looking at houses. Everything from mortgage pre-qualification and area tours to getting ready to show houses takes time, preparation, and knowledge. Once the REALTOR® and client have an understanding of what they're looking for it's time to get out and see some houses, but even that step requires significant preparation.
Once your search parameters are established and we’ve found the homes that match them, the process of setting up or scheduling the showings of the homes you’d like to tour begins. Setting up showings is a process that makes our tours as efficient as possible for all parties involved, and most certainly for you, our buyer.
We first determine what the listing agent has allowed for us to gain access to the Seller’s home, via the Seller's instructions in the MLS. For instance, which days and times the Seller is willing to show the home, and what, if any, showing restrictions the Seller has placed on the home for viewing. For example, is a pet present at the home, and will it need to be removed before allowing a showing? Or is there a small child who lives in the home who has a sleeping schedule that will need to be honored?
At this point, we sit down and map out the most efficient route in conjunction with seller restrictions. Unfortunately, we aren't able to go from house to house in the most efficient manner in terms of distance if a seller won't allow showings within a certain time frame, so we will often need to double back around and see that house at a later time. These types of hurdles require organization, especially in combination with the homebuyer’s schedule.
Once the trip is planned, there are still more options based on the buyer's preferences. For instance, would you rather drive in your own car, or ride in a car with one of the real estate brokers on our team? We can either agree to meet at the first home, or meet at a mutually agreed upon location where you can hop in the car with one of us, and we’ll drive you to your first showing. Our personal preference is that you ride with us. There are several reasons behind this preference. First off, it’s just more efficient: there’s no getting separated, no awkward U-Turns, etc. This also allows us to use the time in between seeing houses to discuss what the buyers liked, and - more importantly - disliked about the previous house. Additionally, while driving around we get a better sense of what aspects of a neighborhood appeal to you.
Once we arrive at the first home, we go to the front door and knock a ‘courtesy knock’ to make sure the Seller is not home, or if they are, that we aren’t walking in on them unexpectedly. Ask any REALTOR® - seriously, ask any REALTOR® that has shown a significant number of homes about their walking in on a seller story, we all have one. Once that is confirmed, we will use a designated lockbox, with the key to the home inside the box, to gain access to the home. We then enter the house and begin your private tour. It’s important to note that we are actually in someone's home, and it’s pertinent that we treat the home with the appropriate level of respect; the home is there to be viewed. In other words, don’t let your children play with toys, pound on the piano, etc… We are there to see the house, not to try out the owner's stuff.
It’s important for you, the buyer, to communicate your thoughts about the home to your agent while you are on the tour. This is a key step for several reasons; we learn more about what you are looking for from what you don’t like about a house than what you do like. Learning what you dislike helps us hone in on what you really want.
Another reason to give input is that after we complete our showings, your REALTOR® will be bombarded with a stream of requests for feedback from the seller's agents. The more input the agent receives, the more honest feedback they can provide, which is important for the sellers. This feedback helps them with pricing as well as staging, and it lets them know if there are issues outside of the things they’ve noticed that are keeping their house from selling.
Although it would be nice to find your ideal home on the first trip out, that is certainly not our expectation or experience. Each trip out to look at houses helps us narrow into the home that best suits your needs.We will continue this process until we find you a home in which you would like to make an offer.
After any showing, the listing agent will request both your feedback as the Buyer and our feedback as the real estate professional. This feedback is vital to the Seller and to the current real estate market, as it allows the Seller to make changes to the home itself, or adjust the list price of the home to one in which the current market supports. Typically we will ask your opinion of the home, whether it’s positive or negative, as we are leaving. Positive feedback could indicate a potential interest in the home, and negative feedback will allow the Seller to make any changes to the home or price of the home to help it sell to another Buyer. This feedback also has the potential to open up a dialogue with the seller's agent. For example, let's say you do have an interest in a home but hesitate given its price in conjunction with the improvements you'd have to make. That kind of feedback sometimes elicits a response from the seller to “Make an offer.” As you can see, giving honest feedback is important. The more transparent you are with your agent, the better we can do to meet your expectations.
It's fitting to think about showings like an iceberg. The small part the public sees is fun and interesting. The larger part they don't see is time-consuming, laborious and methodical. Having said that, the difficult part of showing properties is usually overshadowed by the satisfaction we find in helping good people find great homes.
Lynn Pineda wrote a great article entitled, 8 Things a REALTOR® Does Behind Your Back? This is a great read.