The Smart First-Time Home Seller's Guide (2015)

Chapter 5: Listing And Showing The Home



   After much deliberation, you have chosen to sell through a top producing agent and you have “staged” your home on a budget to maximize its worth and showing potential. You have agreed upon the best marketing strategy set by your Realtor according to local supply and demand, and you have established an appropriate price for your property. You are finally ready to list. You will need help if you are going to gain the exposure you need while listing to achieve a successful sale as a first time home seller.


   Top Agents use listing services to gain maximum exposure for their clients' properties. Your Top Producer will likely use a Multiple Listing Service (MLS). More than 80% of homes that sell are listed on their local Multiple Listing Service. As a home seller, the MLS gives you a lot more exposure to buyers. It is the best and most efficient way to list your home. Many buyers use real estate agents that also use the MLS as their main tool to locate homes for their buyers. If you are amongst the one in five sellers who choose not to sell through the MLS, you are crippling your odds of a successful sale within a desirable time frame.


   Once you list on MLS, Realtors throughout the area are notified directly about your property and can start bringing prospects to you. Every real estate agent in your vicinity will be able to see your home when you list on the MLS. If you choose this route, you will dramatically increase your chances of selling quickly. Keep in mind that if an agent on the MLS is able to help you find a buyer, you will have to pay a buyer's agent commission, which is typically 2% or 3%.


   The “MLS” is the database owned by various real estate agents and their regional trade associations. MLS systems are the primary channel used amongst agents and brokerages to publicize listings. Every day, new listings are entered in the database and dispersed to all subscribing agents and services. Active marketing for your home through the MLS usually includes open houses, agent tours, and the inclusion of your property in the MLS's download to other real estate sites regularly used to search for properties.


   Listings that are marketed without the benefit of the MLS are called “off-MLS listings”, or “pocket listings”. An off-MLS listing, as the term suggests, is marketed by a single agent to one or two select potential buyers. The marketing pool can be so shallow that, in some cases, other agents working for the same brokerage may be completely unaware that a fellow agent has an off-MLS listing.


   Many real estate professionals believe that off-MLS listings are not in the best interest of the property owner. These listings do not get the exposure that properties on the MLS do, which can significantly decrease the number of offers those sellers will receive. So why do home sellers agree to do this? Some off-MLS listings are requested by people who need to maintain their privacy or want to limit the exposure of their property to a particular individual or individuals with the financial means to purchase. This includes judges, prosecutors, celebrities, and so on. As a first time home seller, you will want to list your property on the local MLS to ensure it receives maximum exposure on multiple websites.


   Once your Realtor has listed your home in the database, people will want to view your home. Showings for your property are essential to the selling process. Your Realtor will handle appointments upon your request, so have a drop box for a key ready. It is time to show off all your hard work, but keep the following considerations in mind.  


   As a seller, you do not want to make the common mistake of creating restrictions on when your home can be shown. You need to be flexible, even if it is inconvenient. Focus on the prize and be sure to clean and maintain your house before every visit. Buyers who want to view your home are going to contact your agent and expect to see it immediately. Make your home available every hour of the day. Otherwise, within a few days, prospective buyers will lose interest in your home and move on to another one. Also, studies show that buyers feel more comfortable and linger more when homeowners are not present during showings. Be sure to leave the house when buyers visit and let your agent do your smooth talking for you.


   When presenting your home, keep in mind the main methods for showing, which include open houses, private showings, and lock box showings. Open houses are great for sellers because they can be assured that a good number of buyers can view the property, sometimes within a two or three-hour period. Open houses are open to anyone.


   A buyer who attends your open house and likes your property may want to see it again privately. This is known as a private showing, which can be challenging for some sellers who are not maintaining the home's “staged” appearance. Try to reserve private showings for serious prospects who need more time to take a closer look. They are making a huge decision, so it is important they are able to investigate without feeling rushed.


   Some sellers work during the day or their home for sale is vacant, which can make showing the home much easier. To make things easier for everyone involved, a lock box containing the house key should be installed on the front door. Agents can then use their local MLS key to open the lock box as needed. This is ideal for both the buyer and seller in terms of availability.


   Homeowners who are serious about selling their homes should be ready for anything. Always keep your home neat and tidy in its “staged” condition. You want to make a good impression every time a potential buyer steps through the door. Buyers may have ideas for improvements, so inform your Realtor that you are open to suggestions. Showings in general, especially private showings, may be inconvenient, but they may also lead to offers.