OpinionAgent

How showings on demand put buyers’ needs before sellers’

And what agents can do to restore a sense of balance to the process
  • Buyers and sellers have needs that require balance.
  • Internet-empowered consumers can access listing information 24/7.
  • Homeowners set the terms of the showings.

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“Showings on demand” might sound simple — but buying a house is not a retail transaction.

Buyers want to see houses when it is convenient for them, often with little advance notice. And most sellers want to know who will be showing their house and when they will be there.

Managing these two sets of expectations is not always easy — but it is the seller’s house!

How technology changed the game

The internet changed house shopping, perhaps also creating a false impression that the entire buying process should be instantaneous.

Consumers no longer have to call agents for details about a house, so they can remain anonymous longer. That changes when they find a house that interests them enough to request a showing.

Two different perspectives

Buyers and sellers look at showings differently.

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Buyers often rush into seeing houses before hiring an agent to represent them, before really thinking about their needs and, even worse, before getting financially pre-qualified.

Sellers may find showings tedious, invasive and frustrating because there are many “lookers” who are not pre-qualified to buy.

Buyers typically will not make an offer sight-unseen, so houses that are difficult to show will sit on the market longer, possibly leading to unnecessary price reductions.

Entering someone’s house, especially if it is occupied and there are children or pets, typically requires obtaining their permission, which may slow the process.

Many think that vacant properties should be easy to show. There are certainly fewer variables. However, some sellers visit their vacant properties after appointments to make sure that the lights are turned off and doors locked.

Are showings on demand realistic?

Some areas are trying showings without an agent. In my opinion, that will not work.

Even if there is a way to know who went where and when, who is liable for problems?

Showing a seller’s house to a buyer involves more than simply opening and closing a door. It is a major responsibility that carries a degree of accountability. While the role of the buyer’s agent has changed over time, most consumers find our services helpful and valuable.

There are a number of ways to schedule appointments, and most require that requests are logged for future reference. The actual showing instructions can be as simple as an automatic confirmation (“show and go”) or as complicated as requiring the seller’s permission.

There may be added restrictions, like advance notice (typical for tenant-occupied properties), needing to call the listing agent directly, needing the listing agent to be present or other requirements. What is in the seller’s best interests?

Today, the first showing happens online, so formal showings are less frequent — which may make some sellers less prepared when called.

Ideally, sellers will return showing requests promptly and their houses will be available to be shown because missed opportunities may be lost forever.

Real estate is a major investment, typically the largest one a person or couple will ever make, and I believe it deserves all the time and consideration it can get.

Mistakes are costly! Tension arising from difficulty seeing a house may taint negotiations if a buyer decides to make an offer on a house. That is unfortunate; first impressions matter, and having a poor showing experience for either party may be difficult to overcome down the road, especially if negotiations hit a snag somewhere along the way.

Buyers and sellers need a degree of empathy to understand the position of the other party. A little empathy will go a long way should they decide to do business together.

Andrew Wetzel is an associate broker with Long and Foster Real Estate in Havertown, Pennsylvania. Follow Andrew on Facebook or Twitter

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