Home Selling Guide: Viewings

Now that your whole home is looking fabulous, you can start showing it off, too. If you prefer to show people around the place yourself, there are some rules and tips you should keep in mind.

  • Look appropriate

    Don't greet potential buyers in your pyjamas or with a deep-cleansing facial mask - you might scare them away.
  • Be polite

    People prefer to buy from someone they get on well with, so be nice, offer them something to drink and smile.
  • Don't lose your temper

    Even if someone makes an (in your opinion) inappropriate comment on the lovely pink curtains your aunt gave you for your wedding, try to remain cool and detached. If the buyers are well-informed, they will keep critical records of every house they visit; this is not a personal offence.
  • Don't cling to the viewers

    Show them around, but leave them some space and time to themselves. They are probably choosing their future home, so don't try to rush them.
  • Answer their questions

    Viewers will want to know about many things, so it is best to have a list with answers at hand. Buyers will want to know some of the following:
    • how many potential buyers have seen the place and / or made an offer;
    • why you are selling;
    • whether you have experienced any problems (e.g. theft) in the neighbourhood;
    • what is to be included in the sale (have a list ready!);
    • how much utility bills amount to;
    • how much you have paid for the property.

When answering their questions,be honest! You do not have to tell them straightaway that your house has been on the market for months now, but if they ask you specifically, you have to tell the truth. First, because it is quite likely you will be found out and lose the sale; secondly, because if sellers start acting unethically, the whole process of buying and selling houses could become a big mess.

We live in a dangerous world, and although it is possible that all the people who come to look at your house are reliable and trustworthy, there are some rules to follow to guarantee your personal safety:

  • Make sure you are not alone when you let people into your house
  • Do not leave any valuables lying around openly
  • Do not leave viewers alone in a room for a long time
  • Do not let people into your house on an ad hoc basis
  • If anyone rings your doorbell and want to have a look around, take their details and arrange a date for a viewing

Weighing Up the Buyers

This is your opportunity to get to know potential buyers and find out whether they are trustworthy, serious in their interest, and have the necessary cash at hand. Things you should find out include:

  • whether they have a mortgage agreement in principle yet and how much they can afford;
  • how many other properties they have seen and how many offers they have made (this helps you assess how serious they are in their interest);
  • how soon they want to move.

Just as the buyers are keeping notes on you and your house, you should make notes about them. This includes contact details, the answers to the questions above, and your personal impression. Keeping a record helps you to make a decision once the offers start coming in.

What Not To Do

One general rule is never to make any promises you might not be able or willing to keep. No matter how sorry you feel for them, being only 25 years of age, with two children and working for the minimum wage - this is a business, not a charity, and you did not get your house for free, so you probably do not want to give it away below value either. Another rule, as mentioned above, is not to lie to buyers.Let's introduce some Kantian ethics into this whole thing - being dishonest when selling a house is simply not on.

The Chain

Buyers will want to know whether you have already found a new place to buy, and when you are expecting to move. It is important that you are completely accurate in your answers, since they have to rely on this - otherwise the whole chain can break down.

Similarly you should find out what stage they are at in their property sale. The best type of buyers are the ones between homes, meaning they have sold their house already and are living in temporary accommodation. They are experienced and flexible in their timing.

Buyers who have already put their house on the market have at least made the first step already, but neither you nor they can be sure when they will actually sell their place. If they are dependent on the sales money to buy a new place, you should be flexible in your timing.

If the buyers have not put their house on the market yet but are dependent on the proceedings of the sale to purchase, you should not give them any serious consideration.

Other Types of Buyers

  • First time buyers can be relatively easy to deal with. They have usually sorted out their mortgage and are not part of a chain. While they are probably honest in their interest, their budgets might be quite tight, restraining negotiations.
  • Buy-to-let investors are usually professional and efficient in their dealings and you should not have to worry about the money. However, they can be merciless and cold-blooded when it comes to the haggling part.
  • Browsers are unpredictable since they have not made up their mind yet. Approach them carefully!