Increasing your odds for success
Nervous about showings? Keep in mind that the buyers' focus will be on the property, not on you.
Successful showing guidelines:
- As a by-owner, greet the buyers and point them toward the living areas. These offer the most decorating drama; bedrooms the least. If first impressions are uninspiring, then it’s an uphill battle to build excitement.
- One seller should be the greeter. If the buyers have a question or an objection, they may not express themselves if they feel “outnumbered” by sellers. You don’t want your potential buyers leaving with unanswered questions. However, a spouse or friend could be close at hand (on the patio, deck, back yard, etc.).
- Don't make buyers feel like they are disrupting your life. Your family should not be watching TV or “staging” a family game of Monopoly. Uncomfortable buyers are inclined to leave. The atmosphere should encourage buyers to linger and picture themselves living there.
- Don't hand out printed info when buyers enter. Instead, give it to them after they have toured the main living areas. You don't want them burying their head in a booklet and missing key features. If they ask for an "info" sheet upon entering, start them touring first.
- Let the prospects roam. They should have some privacy as they wander about. People need the opportunity to digest and discuss the offerings and benefits of your home by themselves.
- Guard against obliging them to focus on what you think is significant. Living space, entertainment areas, patios, and decks are but a few features that represent potential benefits–in varying ways to different buyers.
- Take all prescription drugs out of view (and out of the medicine cabinet) for any showings. Valuables should be concealed in a safe location.
- Trust your instincts–if you feel uneasy, decline showing a remote area like the basement - the buyers can look at it by themselves. Any real estate agent doing a showing faces the same situations daily; incidents are extremely rare.
A time for listening
Information-gathering questions can provide valuable information about their needs and desires.
- Info gathered here will be very handy during negotiations or if you're an agent, when you try to get the buyers to narrow their choices.
- Ask the prospects where they’re from. A non-threatening remark could be, “Are you familiar with the neighborhood?” Later, you can beef up the conversation: “Have you been looking long?” or “What kind of a house do you live in now?”
- Subtle questions will reveal their motive for moving. It could be that a relative lives in the neighborhood, they have concerns about schools, they could benefit from public transportation, etc.
- Do not get caught up in “This is where Boomer learned to ride a bike” and other trips down memory lane. It’s awkward for the buyers and do they really care?
- Don't divulge everything to prospects. For instance, certain information–closing date of your new home, a job transfer–could reveal your motivations, which will compromise your negotiating position. If you have a partner, have agreement to the answers you’ll be giving.
The senses of smell, taste, sight and sound can alter the mood and enhance a showing. Consider any number of subliminal techniques:
Light a vanilla scented candle. Add fresh flowers. These radiate a pleasing aroma. Keep a pie in the freezer and pop it in a low temperature oven to add an appealing aroma just before a showing.
A bowl of M and M’s or some hard candy, placed next to the sign-in sheet, provide prospective buyers with something to snack on. Stay away from munchies that leave a mess of crumbs.
Leave snacks (buttered popcorn) out in the kitchen, encouraging prospects to partake. The goal is to get prospects to spend more time there, increasing their comfort level in your home.
The buyers should not have to turn a light on to see any areas. However, all lights shouldn't be turned on; otherwise, it will look overly staged. Indirect lighting is best for setting a natural and casual mood.
Do not have appliances like the washer, dryer, dehumidifier or a noisy TV or dishwasher running. The idea is to create a pleasing, relaxed atmosphere.
Put on some soft music, low volume. It adds warmth and helps neutralize some outside noise. It also eliminates that stilted, dead silence - the kind you get when you and the owner are the only people in a small retail shop.
Look for buying signals:
It's good if the buyers talk about furniture placement (“this would work as the music room” or “the entertainment center would fit here”). Buyers who linger or take a second walk-through during the showing, definitely have appeal building. Encourage them to take off their coat, sit down and get a better "feel" of the home.
Interested buyers ask probing questions; “What are the neighbors like?” “Where is the elementary school?” “Where are you moving?” Who, but an interested party, would ask these types of questions? Give these buyers your undivided attention.
Questions and objections (yes, objections!) are representative of true buying signals and you can learn to recognize them. Some people phrase their question in the form of an objection. Why would they verbalize an objection or ask a meaningless question unless they had some degree of interest?
Children and family enthusiasm could bring added weight to the parent’s decision.
FIRST TIME BUYERS:
First time buyers, newlyweds and those planning on marriage haven’t formulated what it is that they both really want. They are in that phase of wanting to please each other.
If one person really likes your home, play to this individual. Reinforce how much they’ll enjoy living here: they’ll love the neighborhood, cozy fireplace, relaxing with a morning cup of coffee in the sunroom, basement playroom possibilities, the great entertainment potential (young couples always love this concept), etc.
Get one party hooked and the other person will often use this "opportunity" to please their new partner.
DOWNSIZING PROVIDES OPPORTUNITIES:
If you’re downsizing or moving from house to condo, make a list of things that you’ll be getting rid of that would really help a first time buyer.
Tell them that you created this list for a first time homeowner and it contains an array of items they’ll need shortly after they move in. Then list the lawnmower, garden equipment and supplies, lawn and patio furniture, gas grill, tools, as well as the appliances, washer and dryer, window treatments, etc.
This could really impress those who hadn’t thought of these impending expenses. Besides, this "give-away" is worth a lot more than the money you'd get at a yard sale.
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