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Being A Considerate Buyer

Tips and advice for those who wish to sell their home get a lot of press. Television shows, newspaper articles, magazines and real estate websites contain a wealth of information on how to make a home more attractive to potential buyers. But how about the other side of the coin? There’s a good amount of information on how to protect yourself as a buyer, but how about looking at the buyer’s position from another angle? I’m talking more about how to be considerate when you’re shopping for a new home.

Our home is currently on the market and that is what brought this topic to mind. There’s currently a glut of inventory on the market in our region and as a result, houses are not exactly selling like hot cakes around here. As a result, we’ve had our home on the market for a while and have had a good number of potential buyers come by for a showing. What may not occur to a lot of buyers is that they’re causing the sellers to invest their time and energy to prepare the home for a showing.

There’s no doubt that there are a certain number of sellers who don’t do all they should do when it comes to preparing their home for a showing, but in order for it to be done right, there’s a lot of work involved. Like most people we don’t live like the “Bree” character on Desperate Housewives whose house is always spotless and in perfect order. We clean our house from top to bottom each time a showing is scheduled. We do as much as we can to make it attractive to potential buyers and that takes time and it takes work.

Then there’s the time we have to spend away from our house during the showing. Although no real estate agent can force anyone to leave their home if they don’t want to, it’s generally accepted that the best course of action is for the sellers to leave the property during a showing to make potential buyers more comfortable. We spend an average of an hour and a half away from our home during a showing, so it takes a chunk out of the day in addition to the time we spent preparing the house. We usually leave 10 or 15 minutes before the showing is scheduled in case the potential buyers show up early.

So far, this may came across as something that was written by a homeowner whose sick of people traipsing through his home for showings and that’s true to a certain extent. In a slow market like this, it’s frustrating to have had a good number of showings and not a single offer. However, what this post is really about is not wasting as seller’s time. Allow me to be more specific.

We had a showing scheduled a number of weeks ago. If memory serves, it was an early afternoon showing. A good 15 minutes before the time that was scheduled a minivan pulls into our yard. I was not sure at this point whether it was the potential buyers, their agent or all of them together. When I went out to let them know we would be leaving within a few minutes I find out that it is the potential buyers. A man and a woman climb out of the front and four kids pile out of the back.

What’s wrong with this picture? No, it’s not that they were early, although that was mildly annoying. They seemed nice enough, and I had a brief chat with the husband until the real estate agent pulled in just a few minutes later. The problem was that this family was obviously looking at the wrong house and I could have told them that before they ever stepped foot inside.

Our home is a two-bedroom home and that’s a fact that is made abundantly clear in the listing information. How a family with four children could ever come to the conclusion that a two-bedroom home was the right one for them is beyond me. I pretty much knew right then and there that the showing was going to be a waste of time. As it turned out, we ended up spending an hour and a half away from our home for nothing. As expected, the feedback we got from those not-so-potential buyers was that “the floor plan did not work for them.” Well, no kidding geniuses, I knew that as soon as I saw four kids spill out of the family minivan!

The point I’m trying to make here is that if you’re in the market for a new home, please do sellers the courtesy of showing up at their home only when it sounds like a property that might actually work for you. If you simply must have room for your alpaca farm, don’t be looking at half-acre properties. If you must have three bathrooms, don’t schedule showings for homes with one or two bathrooms. And if you have a bunch of kids, don’t be looking at two-bedroom homes unless your kids like living in cramped quarters.

Going and looking all through someone’s home is not a recreational activity. Buyers should realize that the seller is often putting a lot of time and effort into preparing their home for a showing and they should only be scheduling showing for properties that meet their criteria. As a seller, I don’t appreciate having my time wasted and I’m sure most other sellers would agree. Please think beyond the notion that you are simply going to look at a piece of property. Unless it’s a vacant property, people live there and if they’re serious about selling their home, their putting a lot of time and effort into preparing it for potential buyers. That’s probably something that’s easy to forget – even for well-meaning people, so please consider this advice if your actively shopping around for a new home.