Austin Sellers Still Making Homes Hard to Show

by Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX on January 6, 2008 · 12 comments

Don't Show my House Today I’ve been out showing homes the past couple of days and once again I observe something that astounds me. Sellers who obstruct the showing of their homes for trivial and dumb reasons.

For those not aware of how showings work in Austin, most MLS listings have the agent showing instructions “Call and Go”, which means if I want to show your home, I’ll call ahead and leave a message, or if you answer, I’ll provide a window of an hour or two of when I’m coming, normally with at least 1 hour notice.

Often sellers call back and want to rearrange the time, or they answer and say that today isn’t a good day. Sometimes it’s not a problem to move their home back or forward a couple of houses on the list. Other times it simply isn’t possible due to routing and timing reasons.

Among the interesting reasons I’ve heard from Sellers the last two days…

* “I’m feeding my daughter and spaghetti is everywhere. Can you come later or tomorrow?”
* “We just got back in town from a long trip and our stuff is everywhere and we’re tired”.
* “My wife will be taking a nap, so you can only see the downstairs”
* “Today (Saturday) just isn’t a good day”.

I’ve found the best way to work through these obstructions is to cut right to the chase and present two options “do you want me to show your home or do you want me to scratch it off the list?” Amazingly, it’s more common than not that a Seller will say “scratch it off the list”.

Out of town buyers do not make offers on homes they cannot see. Buyers also do not reschedule their flight plans to stay an extra day, or make arrangements to fly back into Austin to view homes at a time that better suits a seller’s nap requirements or housekeeping schedule. A serious seller understands the job of selling a home includes inconvenience. Your job is selling your home, and you plan your life and ability to be flexible accordingly. You will in fact be asked to show your home at times that are less than ideal for you, but perfect for your buyer. The buyer should have priority.

Motivated sellers are on board with this reality. Unmotivated sellers don’t realize that every showing may be the one that results in the offer you want, and therefore most showings are more important that the excuse you may have for obstructing it.

That said, if a Seller is sick, or has a sick child home in bed, those are reasons that deserve respect, but nevertheless, the home will still be scratched off the list won’t be shown.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 lenny January 7, 2008 at 7:39 am

i am so tired of the difficulty of showing homes with so many uncooperative sellers…

it’s the listing agents fault for not explaining the home buying process from the buyers viewpoint. it’s also the listing agents fault for not getting a committment from the seller to allow easy access to buyers.

2 Steve Crossland January 7, 2008 at 8:18 am

Hi Lenny,

It is frustrating isn’t it? I don’t know if sellers realize it, but we typically spend at least an hour reviewing listing, printing the ones we want to show, mapping out the best route to take, and then calling ahead to all the listings that are occupied to provide a time frame. If a seller calls back and wants us to come at 2PM instead of between Noon and 1PM, it can knock the times out of sync on all the other homes we’ve already left messages with.

It’s less of an issue if showing in a concentrated area where it’s easy to double back to the skipped home, or if a lot of the other homes are vacant, but if three or four sellers out of a list of 12 homes to show want the schedule rearranged, it’s not going to work. Something will have to be dropped from the showing list.

I always remain cordial, but I’m fairly blunt with sellers when it becomes frustrating, and I’ll even say “I can’t sell your home if I can’t show it. You do want to sell your home don’t you?”.

Steve

3 Tary Snyder January 7, 2008 at 9:01 am

I agree. It takes hours to set up showings, maping, printing out info, etc and then if a seller won’t let me show, I just scratch that house.

BTW, both your side and Steve Crosland offer great blogs.I have quoted some and have linked to them on my blog.

Thanks Tary

4 shireen January 7, 2008 at 11:47 am

Yes, I can see how frustrating it is for realtors but it is not a fun process for sellers either. Some people are unease about having people in their house, fear being judged for their decor or lack thereof, many people have clutter issues, then there are the logistics of managing a family with children and accommodating showings and then there are realtors who (despite a notice in the listing asking for 1 hour’s notice) will call from the curb where they are parked with their client asking for an immediate showing!! This happened to me numerous times when I had my last home on the market. I had a 7th month baby and a three year old at the time and the stress was enormous! And yes, I almost always let them show the house.

This time I have three kids, a guinea pig who lives in the family room, a husband who travels, we are considering waiting till summer to put the house on the market and just going to live with grandma for a month, so the house can show at any time.

Not sure what the answer is but having a home on the market is no fun for sellers either!

5 MT January 7, 2008 at 9:27 pm

Okay, relax already. Some people have babies and it’s hard to work around their schedules. Unless you want to watch a baby or toddler while showing the home. Do you have kids? Your post is a little extreme.

6 arz January 8, 2008 at 1:35 am

this will be particularly hard when average days on market are getting longer. I can’t imagine that i have a home that is practically not mine during the day for nearly 3 months. I guess the most effective thing to do is to get all the stuff into a storage, keep bear minimum, rent an apartment if necessary, stage your home like a show room, have lots of sunday open houses, and see if you can generate enough traffic in the first few weeks. Once you pass that initial exciting period, things are going to get harder and harder…

Steve, I’m curious, have you sold your house yet?

7 NT January 8, 2008 at 6:36 am

“It takes hours to set up showings, maping, printing out info, etc and then if a seller won’t let me show, I just scratch that house.”

But isn’t that your job in which you are paid very well for? If it was easy, everyone would do it themselves.

8 BE January 8, 2008 at 2:15 pm

I agree that sellers could be more responsive. However, to provide another viewpoint from someone who is not a realtor.. We recently sold close to a million dollar home. I can’t tell you how many times a realtor would call, arrange an appointment and then never show up. They would not call and they would not return our realtors calls. The house was in a good area with plenty of curb appeal so I am sure it wasnt a drive by and not stop issue. Further, adding to the aggravation were all the realtors who brought their listings by to check out the “competition”. After going through everything necessary to stage a home the last thing you want are “fake” showings. All in all, I think the Realtor community could do a lot to improve their relationship with sellers.

9 Steve Crossland January 8, 2008 at 2:51 pm

> All in all, I think the Realtor community could do a lot to improve their relationship with sellers.

B.E., you make some valid points. I guess those of us that don’t do those things you mentioned are not as aware of it as you would be as a seller. There is no excuse for agents no-showing without a call.

> Steve, I’m curious, have you sold your house yet?

Yes, we sold it. Oddly enough, we had very few showings but very good turnouts at open houses. It sold to a couple who came through the open house.

> Do you have kids? Your post is a little extreme.

Sorry. I’m just reporting the actual events as I experience them. If I had a baby, I might ask the listing agent to put in comments about windows of time for showings. That’s ok. It’s just when a listing is listed as “Call and Go”, we expect it to be just that. “Appointment with Occupant” is another option, though listings marked with that as showing instructions might not make the final cut when trying to sort out which homes we can get into and show an out of town buyer.

> Not sure what the answer is but having a home on the market is no fun for sellers either!

I agree. We just went through it. Though we didn’t have many showings, we were ready 100% of the time. We stocked up on prepared meals at Super Suppers (juts pop them into the over, very easy low hassle), and we ate out more often to keep the kitchen clean. I don’t cherish living in a home for sale either, but sellers can choose to give it an “A” effort or something less. I think it’s always in a seller’s best interest to provide an “A” effort and make the home as accessible as possible.

Steve

10 Terrill January 8, 2008 at 3:24 pm

Steve this is a good post for seeing all sides of this issue. I have run into this problem many times showing property to buyers. I’m not as blunt as you are about it but I do ask them when would it be convenient to pin down a time and if they wouldn’t tell me then I;d cross it off the list. One thing I learned about a year ago when I was selling a home was the seller said it was the biggest invasion of her privacy she’d ever experienced. I could see visibly see how frustrated and scared she was. We tried to make it as hassle free as possible for her but it was impossible for us to help alleviate her stress. What i Realize now is that when you go to sell your house you have to assume that it’s NOT your house anymore because buyers are looking at it like it could be their house. That’s why we got rid of all our STUFF and put most of it storage. It;s like living in a goldfish bowl. Yes I have sold a home so I know what it;s like.

“I think it’s always in a seller’s best interest to provide an “A” effort and make the home as accessible as possible.” I agree! Be ready to roll because you never know when that perfect buyer is going to strike.

11 Simon January 8, 2008 at 8:42 pm

Steve,

I often chuckle, nervously, about that house you showed us when we were buying, where there was a baby asleep in one of the bedrooms but no sign of a parent. Do you think that this was professional staging of what was, after all, a family home? Or a seller not quite being with the programme maybe!

12 Steve Crossland January 8, 2008 at 8:47 pm

Hi Simon. I remember that!
I’m sure Mom was around somewhere, but it was one of those “what’s the protocol here?” moments.
Steve

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