February 23, 2017
By Brian Pate
Providing real estate agents easy access is the key to getting your home sold in any real estate market.
You have signed the listing agreement. The lock box is on the door and the sign is up in the front yard. If you think that is all that is needed, think again.
One of the biggest challenges for agents in showing homes is accessibility. Agents are generally setting up at least 3 or 4 appointments with a client and they have mapped out the most efficient route to get to all of the homes.
If the agent then calls to set up the appointment and your home is not available, the agent will likely skip the home altogether. This cost the seller because it means you have just lost a potential buyer.
Some sellers think, “If they really want to see it, they will make another appointment.” This line of thinking is often not true. Many times the buyer is thinking, “If it is that difficult to make an appointment, they must not be motivated to sell.”
There are four elements to a quality listing: Access, Condition, Financing and Price.
Here are five levels of access that you can give to buyers, along with a brief description:
- Lockbox on the Door – this allows buyers the ability to see the home as soon as they are aware of the listing, or at their convenience.
A lock box is a must for sellers. It is unrealistic to ask your listing agent to be at the property for every showing. Requiring a listing agent to be there means that most experienced agents will say no to the listing. This is often a deal breaker for top agents.
- Open Access with a Phone Call – the seller allows showing with just a phone call’s notice.
This is my personal favorite. In our market here in the Raleigh/Wake Forest area, having the buyer agent call to make an appointment and receive access after giving a security code is the best way to handle showings.
Using this system, it allows buyers access on short notice to get in the home. The down side is that you may see a car drive up on Saturday morning while you are making breakfast. Within seconds the phone rings and it is an attempt at an appointment to see the home.
Rather than saying no, a motivated seller would say, “Can you give us 30 minutes or an hour to finish our morning routine?”
Of course, there are those moments when the timing just doesn’t work. That is okay occasionally. Ultimately, if you say no to an appointment, you could be saying no to a qualified buyer. Keep that in mind as you are making your decisions.
- Providing a Key to the Home – although the buyer’s agent may need to stop by an office to pick up the key, there is little delay in being able to show the home.
This is the way homes were shown when I first started in real estate in the early 1990s. Today, this method is antiquated. Not allowing a lock box on your property is going to put a damper on the excitement for any buyer who wants to see it as it takes away the convenience.
Remember that buyers today are of the expectation that the seller is going to make it as easy as possible to have access to the home. In the buyer’s mind, if the seller is difficult with access to the home, the seller will also be difficult in the process from contract to close.
- By Appointment Only (example: 48 Hour Notice)– Many buyers who are relocating for a new career or promotion start working in that area prior to purchasing their home. They often like to take advantage of free time during business hours (such as their lunch break) to view potential homes. Because of this, they may not be able to plan their availability far in advance or may be unable to wait 48 hours to see the house.
It is one thing to require one hour notice to show, but in this day and age, 24 hours notice requirements are antiquated and will cost you showings. If you have an infant that naps during a certain time of day, just block those hours and have your agent explain why in the “agent comments” section of the listing information.
- Limited Access (example: the home is only available on Mondays or Tuesdays at 2pm or for only a couple of hours a day) – This is the most difficult way to be able to show your house to potential buyers.
In today’s fast paced real estate market, employing this method is basically telling people that you don’t really want to sell. The harder it is to show the home, the less likely agents are to show it, much less write an offer.
After all, once the house goes under contract, it must be available for inspections based on the vendor schedules.
The bottom line is this: In a competitive marketplace, access can make or break your ability to get the price you are looking for, or even sell your house at all.