What to Look for in a Home Showing
Whether you’re thinking about purchasing a brand-new home or buying a resale one – or whether you haven’t decided yet – you’re going to go to a lot of showings. These showings will tell you a lot of things.
If you’re looking at resale homes, you’ll get a sense of how the family has used the home, what kind of condition the home is in, and how many changes, repairs, or updates you might need to do before you move in after purchasing it. You’ll be looking at the exact home you purchase, so you know what you’re getting.
If you’re looking at brand-new showhomes, you’ll get a sense of the quality of the craftsmanship and a sense of the types of things the builder can include in your home. In this case, you’re looking at an example of the work. Your actual home will usually be different because you’re picking out the floor plan and design details.
And, of course, if you’re selling your home in addition to buying a new home, you’re going to be planning on showing your current home.
Here, we detail some of the most important things that go into the perfect home showing for both buyers and sellers.
Whether you’re buying a brand-new home or a new-to-you home, home showings are going to give you a taste of what you can get. It might be fun to tour homes “just to look” when you’re getting started. After all, you need a general idea of what’s out there.
However, once you’re serious about buying, you need to focus on the details in a home showing.
Does the Seller Offer a Virtual Showing?
Just a year ago, the idea of buying a home based only on a virtual showing might have seemed far-fetched to many people. In our current pandemic, though, it’s actually practical. In fact, 48.9% of buyers and 54% of sellers say they’d be open to a virtual sales process.
As vaccines become available, life will hopefully be returning to something that looks more normal, but virtual home sales are here to stay. It’s estimated that virtual showings might replace 15-20% of traditional home showings in the foreseeable future. It makes it easier to take a look at homes on your own schedule, and virtual tours are definitely a big plus for those who are buying homes from out of town.
The great news is that across the real estate industry, companies have been stepping up their game when it comes to creating tools that make it easier to tour, buy, and sell homes virtually.
For instance, home builders have adopted a range of technologies to make remote home viewing safe and convenient – from simple guided tours with a sales rep via Zoom or Skype to more elaborate tours in full 3D or even VR with Matterport, iGuide or Realvision 3D.
Does the Seller Offer Safe, In-Person Showings?
If you’re planning on touring any homes in person, take a look at their safety guidelines first, and see what precautions they’re taking for their home showings. Granted, this more applies to a showhome versus a resale but even in a resale house, the seller should be taking precautions.
Here are some of the things you should look for:
- Limited visitors. The seller or builder should be limiting the number of people in the home to allow for proper social distancing. Builders should be able to schedule appointments so you’re the only person viewing a particular showhome at that time.
- Masks. All sales staff should be wearing masks properly (covering both the nose and the mouth). Visitors should also be wearing masks. If a visitor shows up without a mask, they should be provided with one.
- Sanitizing stations. Look for hand sanitizing stations around the home. Germs are lurking everywhere, and you want to stay safe.
- A cleaning plan. How often is the home you’re looking at cleaned? Is it cleaned between visitors? Once a day? That will let you know how much care you need to take while you view the home.
- Health check. Staff and visitors should both undergo some type of health check. Usually, this means having temperatures checked and answering a series of questions about symptoms of the coronavirus. Staff who don’t pass the health check should not work. Visitors who don’t pass should not be allowed inside the home.
- Other safety guidelines. Companies likely have other rules regarding safety in the time of coronavirus. For example, they might limit the places that you can touch in the home (e.g. not allowing you to open cabinet doors). Rules like this seem cumbersome, but they make the post-visit cleaning process more efficient.
Related Article: How Sterling is Conducting Showhome Viewings Safely
What Should You Be Aware of When Viewing a Home?
Both sellers and builders want to make a good impression when you come to view their home, so you can expect a home to look great on the surface.
That’s why you need to dig a bit deeper before committing.
You don’t want to deal with a lot of problems when it comes to the biggest purchase of your life! We’ve put together some of the things you should watch out for in both resale and brand-new homes.
- Fresh paint only in some areas. Homeowners often repaint the home to give it a fresh look or to make it appear more neutral (and favourable) to potential buyers. However, if you see fresh paint only in one section of a room or only one small part of the home, it could be a sign of a quick fix to a problem.
- Strong air fresheners. This is another tricky one. Some realtors will use an air freshener as a way to make the property smell homier. Sometimes, though, strong air fresheners are used to cover up the smell of mould or plumbing problems. Pay extra attention if the homeowner is using an air freshener in a room more likely to have mould problems, such as the bathroom or basement.
- Older appliances. Older appliances, water heaters, and HVAC systems aren’t necessarily a deal-breaker, but you need to recognize that each of these items has a certain lifespan. If everything in the home is old, you may be dealing with major repairs or replacements soon after you move in, which could be a strain on your budget. In some cases, older appliances mean the homeowner was good with maintenance so the appliances would last. On the other hand, if they weren’t spending money to upgrade these items, were they also not spending money on other minor repairs? Will this cost you more in the long run?
- Unusual pricing. You should always look at the average home price for the area. If the home is significantly lower than others, there could be a reason why they’re trying to get rid of it quickly. It might work out in your favour if you’re ready to deal with whatever problems the purchase may bring, but it could also be a major headache.
Related Article: New Home Red Flags and How to Avoid Them
- Building quality. A builder’s showhome should be top quality, but you still need to pay attention. Are doors closing properly or do they stick? Do you see anything that looks rough or uneven? Does the home already show signs of wear and tear? Showhomes aren’t used as models for long, so if you see signs of wear already, it could be a sign that a home you buy from them might not look great for long.
- The floor plan. When you look at a showhome, you’re not looking at the exact home you’ll be buying (unless you choose to match it perfectly). For instance, two homes might have the same general open-concept layout, but if the showhome you toured has 500 square feet more space than the model you eventually buy, you could be disappointed by how the rooms feel when you get your home. Make sure you’re looking at showhomes that are close in size and style to what you want to build.
- Pricing. Customization in new construction homes can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, it allows you to select the design details you want. On the other hand, little additions can add up, and your home could go over budget, so make sure you understand the pricing involved. A particular model might be advertised as “Starting from the low $300s,” but the showhome you’re looking at could have upgrades that bring the price to $400,000 or more. Ask the Area Manager which features in the home are standard and which are upgrades.
Additionally, something that applies to both resale and new homes… be careful about what you say when you’re touring the home. Security cameras can pick up on the things you’re discussing, which can cause you to lose some power in the negotiation of your purchase.
As a seller, you’ll also want to think about how you’re going to show your home. We’ve already talked about some of the things you’ll look for in showings as a buyer, so remember those who are coming to your showing are going to be looking for similar things. You want your home to be in top shape so potential buyers will want it.
It goes without saying you should take care of major and minor repairs before you start to show your home, but here are some other things you should consider.
How Can I Safely Show My Home?
During a pandemic, the last thing you want is to have hundreds of strangers roaming your home and potentially spreading germs. At the same time, buyers will want to see what they’re actually getting before they make their purchase.
Use these safety standards to make everyone feel better.
- Create a virtual tour. Your real estate agent should take more pictures than they might have taken pre-pandemic so potential buyers can get a sense of whether or not your home is a serious contender. We also now have the technology to create virtual tours so make use of it.
- Limit the number of people who come in. Rather than having an open house where anyone who wants to see the home can come and visit, have people schedule tours or time slots. This way, you can allow just one family in at a time, and the Realtor® can monitor their behaviour in the home.
- Require masks and sanitization. When you have a home showing, your Realtor® should provide masks to those who don’t have them. There should also be sanitizing stations throughout the home, or at least at the entrance.
- Open doors to rooms and closets. People want to look! While the room looks nicer with the closet doors closed, if you keep them open, you won’t have to worry about everyone touching your door handles.
- Clean after EACH showing. Once someone is done looking at your home, open up the windows to change the air, and wipe down all surfaces that may have been touched.
How Do I Keep My Home Ready for Showings?
Since you’re not planning a big open house, it means you’re going to be doing several smaller showings. To sell your home as quickly as possible, you need to be ready to allow a showing at a moment’s notice. You might not have hours for a deep cleaning right before this happens, so you want to make sure that things are neat and tidy all of the time. These tips should be helpful.
- Put many of your belongings in storage. Often, people have more stuff than they really need. You’re used to the way your home looks, but someone else might come in and think that the home looks small and cluttered. To prevent this, put a lot of your things into a temporary storage unit. Some things to get rid of for now: out-of-season clothing, decorative furniture that doesn’t actually get used, and anything that’s making your shelves look too full.
- Hide your pets. You love your pets dearly, but potential buyers might not be quite as fond. Seeing things like a litter box, a dog bowl, or pet toys on the floor might cause them to worry about lurking pet odours. Ideally, you want your pets gone when you’re having a showing.
- Light up the home. Make sure the light bulbs in all of your rooms are in good working order. Consider purchasing brighter bulbs as well. This is particularly important when trying to sell your home in winter during the shorter days. People will definitely be turning on the lights. The brighter your home, the more open and welcoming it will feel.
- Keep the yard tidy. First impressions matter and you want to have great curb appeal when people come up to your home. Make sure that the outside looks as good as the inside.
- Plan for the weather. Make your home comfortable for the conditions. If it’s summer, open up the windows to let the breeze blow through or turn on the air conditioning. You don’t want anyone to think that your home feels stifling. In the winter, make sure it’s warm and cozy. Light a fire in the fireplace if you have one, and place a rug down at the entryway to trap snow so that it doesn’t get tracked through your house.
How Should I Price My Home?
One of the biggest reasons a home will fail to sell is that it’s priced incorrectly. Overpriced homes are going to be easily recognized as a bad deal, while those that are underpriced might look suspicious to buyers.
You have to find that sweet spot that’s going to make people see the value in your home while still letting them feel like they’re getting a good deal.
Despite all of the societal upheaval we’ve seen, there hasn’t been a dramatic shift in the cost of homes. That’s good news for both buyers and sellers. To price your home correctly, listen carefully to the advice of your Realtor®. They’ll look at comparable homes in your area to figure out where you should set your price. Sometimes, the advice feels disappointing, especially if you were hoping to recoup 100% of the cost of some upgrades you made. But most of the time, the Realtor® knows best.
How Many Showings Will It Take To Sell My Home?
This is the million-dollar question! Some people will sell their home after the first showing, while others might have 20 or more without getting any bites. How quickly you sell the home varies on a lot of things, including the location, the time of year, and the current market conditions. Some things you won’t be able to control.
In most cases, though, you’ll see the highest number of showings during the first two weeks after you list your home. It will attract the attention of everyone who’s currently shopping for a home. After that, you’ll get smaller numbers of people looking at it. These are the people who just started looking.
Hopefully, you’ll get an offer on the home within those first two weeks. If you go through more than 10 or 15 showings without getting any offers, though, you have to take a close look at what might be going wrong.
Sometimes, it’s that the pricing doesn’t match the home. Lack of interest could also be related to other things. For instance, a cluttered home seems smaller than it really is, and a home that has outdated wallpaper or appliances looks like too much of a fixer-upper. You need to fix these perceived problems before your home will sell.
Whether you’re looking for your perfect new home or getting ready to move on from your old one, the home viewing is one of the most important steps of the journey. A new home is a big investment and an important decision, and you’ll want to be certain that you’re making the best choice possible for yourself and your family. Consider all your options, and don’t be afraid to speak to a professional if you need some guidance along the way.