Many sellers are under the assumption that their agent will be present at their home’s showings. However, this is not common practice everywhere. In the northern suburbs of Chicago, where I live and sell real estate, agents that accompany their listings’ showings are more the exception than the rule –in fact, when I show a listing to an agent from the city, they are always pleasantly surprised and note that it’s a rare occurence among suburban agents (at least in my geographical area).
Perhaps some agents are so busy they don’t have the time to do it, or maybe they just feel it’s not necessary.
When I started as a new agent last year, this wasn’t something I thought twice about. I made the committment to accompany my listings’ showings - at least as often as possible. I mean, isn’t that my job–to SELL my homes? How do you do that if you’re not there when the prospective buyer is present?
When I take a new listing, my promise to my sellers is that I will be present at as many showings as humanly possible. I’d say I make it to about 95% of them. If I can’t be there, I make it a point to have a detailed discussion with the buyer’s agent so that I can point out the most important features and let them know what to look for.
So, here’s why I do it:
1) Expertise: Next to you, the homeowner, I am the foremost expert on your home. There are too many wonderful details about your home to fit on a listing sheet or in the MLS description, so my presence allows me to point out all of these things.
Most of the time, the buyers’ agent has never crossed the threshold of your home until they show it - their clients’ first showing is their first showing, too. Simply viewing the home online doesn’t tell them everything they need to know. When I am present at the showings, I can make sure to cover all of the details that aren’t readily available.
2) Entry and exit: I’ve seen, on more than one occasion, a snafu occur, such as a malfunctioning lock box, and the showing doesn’t happen. Buyers’ agents do not want to be running around picking up keys from different offices–they don’t have the time and they need the showing to be as easy and convenient as possible. Trust me, there is nothing more frustrating for a seller than to have channeled Cinderella and busted their a** preparing their home for a showing only to have it cancelled at the last minute for a reason that could have been prevented. If I am there, with my own set of keys, there’s no risk of this happening.
At the end of the showing, I’ll turn off all of the lights, make sure the home is left exactly the way I found it, and lock up.
3) Security purposes: I am there to keep an eye on my sellers’ belongings and make sure that no damage is done to the property during the showing.
4) Presentation: I always arrive a good 15 minutes before the buyers to turn on all of the lights and do whatever little things the homeowner may have inadvertantly missed – my sellers do amazing jobs of preparing their homes for a showing, but another set of eyes can catch one or two little details. (Note: put those toilet seat lids down. Really, it makes a difference.)
5) And, most importantly, feedback : As I tour the home with the prospective buyer, I can take note of their reactions to the home – both spoken and unspoken. I can glean a lot of insight into the mind of the buyer by simply observing them as they tour the home. There is still feedback to be had later from the agent, but I am able to learn more than s/he will probably ever tell me simply by being observant during the showing.
I know many sellers’ agents will excuse themselves from the responsibility of accompanying showings by saying, “Well , the buyers’ agents don’t like it when I’m there.” My response, “So?”
Now, I understand that some buyers’ agents are uncomfortable with the thought of having the sellers’ agent present – some even think I’m out to steal their client (honestly, if they’re worried about that, they should focus that energy on doing their job better, and not worrying about me doing my job!) — but that’s their problem, not mine, and it won’t interfere with my responsibility to my sellers.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am completely respectful of buyers and their agents. I guage the situation and take my cues from them – I hold back when it seems necessary and interject when I feel it would be welcome. I never want any buyer to feel pressured or uncomfortable.
My committment is do the best job possible selling my clients’ homes, and being present to at showings is a key component. So, when you are ready to sell and start interviewing agents (yes, you should be interviewing!), don’t take it for granted that they will all provide this essential service - make sure to ask!
Stephanie Hofman, SFR (that is, certified in short sales and foreclosures!) and Rookie of the Year, 2009
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, Highland Park, IL