any tips on doing your own viewings? What do you look for as a buyer?(61 Posts)
Got our first viewer coming round tomorrow.
Have you got any tips on showing them round, from a seller's or a buyer's point of view?
All I've got so far is:
- Let them go into rooms first and for me to stay by the door.
- Don't state the blooming obvious ("this is the kitchen, it has an oven" etc).
Any tips gratefully received!
Avoid telling the story behind the wallpaper/ carpet/ extension, ( It is suprising how often people do this - it is instinctive to explain where you bought the paint, why you extended the kitchen and how much difference it has made etc but the buyer is thinking about what he would like to do).
Don't point out too many features - instead ask them if there is anything they wd like to know. They may say nothing at all - be comfortable with that
Watch them for signs of interest. If they know it's not for them the moment they walk through the door they will be itching to escape. (I once did an excruciating viewing in a five bedroom house in which the owner/ vendor insisted I looked at every single "feature" in the place including every loo, cupboard and appliance!)
Ask questions about what they are looking for, where they live now, how old the kids are or whatever THEN you can drop in snippets about excellent schools, sunny garden etc
What do you love about your house? If you have a south or west facing garden that is a definite plus point which a first time buyer might not necessary think about.
Be prepared for questions such as:
1. Why are you moving
2. Have you found anywhere
3. What do you like about living here
4. What is the local school?
5. Which council tax band are you in
6. How much is the gas/elec bills?
7. How old is the boiler
Do you know who is the target market? For example professional single (mention restaurants or easy of getting around) or family (mention nearby parks)
PS should have said make sure that you don't leave them alone in a room where there is valuable stuff lying around, (cash, jewellery, ipods etc)
And make sure that you mention that your DP/ neighbour/ another potential buyer is due round soon. It might sound ridiculously over suspicious but actually it is just common sense, ( so you probably thought of it already!!!)
Thanks everyone, useful advice.
I should have said, we've already cleared almost all our stuff out - we put it into storage to renovate - and only have the bare minimum there, so not too worried about them nicking stuff, there's practically nothing to nick!
Also, it's a one-bed flat in a newly-fashionable area. I reckon we'll be selling to wealthy first time buyers (or first time buyers with wealthy parents!) or maybe a buy-to-let investor.
Also I'm not going to do any viewings alone. Either DP will be there or if he can't make it then my good friend (with adorable baby in tow!), purely for safety reasons.
Give them a quick tour, then retreat to one room with a cheery "now you know your way round shall I leave you to have another look on your own? I'll be in the kitchen/living room/conservatory if you need me"
I say this as someone who genuinely would have offered on a house if the owner had just left me alone. I like to have a real think about houses, imagine my stuff in them, tap walls, etc and find it hard to do that with the owner trailing around after me. I much preferred seeing houses with estate agents or with owners who left me to it.
Great stuff all of you, thanks very much
jollydiane I'll give your questions a go.
What do you love about your house?
- very big and nice layout, which unusual for conversions round here. It took me six months of searching to find it, and I love it.
1. Why are you moving
Have DS, it's too small for us now.
2. Have you found anywhere
No but will go into rented accommodation as soon as sold, as prices falling in the area we're moving to, we're very happy to do this, and get a feel for the place while we house hunt.
3. What do you like about living here
Near parks and open spaces - love going to the marshes for walks at the weekend
Sense of community (rare in London) - thriving local shops with friendly people running them
Some great pubs nearby
Can be in Central London quickly
4. What is the local school?
Secondary, the one round the corner gets excellent results.
Primary, um, no idea! We've been looking in our new area!
5. Which council tax band are you in
6. How much is the gas/elec bills?
Um. I'll dig out a bill!
7. How old is the boiler.
4 years. Been checked, I've can supply the number of the excellent, very professional plumber who put it in and checks it.
Don't talk too much - avoid babbling! Don't follow potential buyers around - let them look around themselves in their own time. We offered on a house recently where the owner was present at both viewings (and the estate agent) and he insisted on filling us in on all kinds of information that we didn't really need and distracted us from the house. We're polite, so felt we had to engage in conversation rather than being able to look really carefully at the house itself. Take your lead from the viewers - answer their questions honestly, but don't volunteer extra information.
OK, these are the things I'm going to point out as we go, what do you think?
- the large cupboards in the hallway are big enough to fit a washing machine and you could plumb through to the bath next door, should you wish to move it out of the kitchen
- the walls the cupboards are made of are really thin, if you'd like to knock them down you could do it really easily, perhaps to make space in the hallway for an office area.
- there is currently no fridge in the kitchen. I'll show where we had it, and point out other spaces it could go.
- we've finished renovating - nearly. Two jobs left: in the garden we've painted up to about 4 metres on the wall, will be getting large ladder and finishing job this week, and also front gate.
- carpets are new, and come with 7 year guarantee
That's it I think.
I may mention something about the local area, and why we're leaving if they seem interested.
I plan to show them around, then say please feel free to look at anything you like, take your time, we'll be in the garden. I'll tell them I'm going to do this before showing them around.
What do you think?
you'll be fine - let us know how it goes!
Excellent advice from Busyoldfool. I would second the finding out as much as you can about the vendor (without sounding too nosy) as you can tailor your showing to address it
e.g. if you find out they are currently living with parents/living in a flatshare/living in zone 6/both work in the city/have a DC who stays each weekend
then you can make sure you showcase the flat with this in mind.
My opening gambit as you invite them in would be 'have you travelled far today?'
For heaven's sake, don't say you're moving because it's too small, even though it will be obviously true. Don't put the idea in their mind! Ditto "the walls are very thin" when you could say "this is not a supporting wall".
It sounds like you aren't looking for a family to buy it anyway, so you can say you have a small child and are planning more (if you are) and want to move to somewhere with a garden, etc. Things that are not true of any flat, rather than being a particular disadvantage of your flat, IYSWIM.
I sold our flat - our buyers came from one of the few viewings I did. There are lots of things an owner knows that am agent doesn't, such as the aspect, the neighbours, the parking, the bins, local amenities such as shops, pubs, walks, etc, transport links, that kind of thing. Briefly explaining why you were attracted to it in the first place, and what will make you sorry to leave, definitely helps.
Work out what people expect to find wrong with a flat - noisy, not enough storage, insecure, cramped, etc - and drop in comments saying why these things are not true of yours, or at least be prepared to defend the flat against such accusations!
Don't point out obvious things unless you are saying something non-obvious - "that cupboard goes all the way under the stairs".
Thanks for the tips
"don't say you're moving because it's too small" the rooms in the flat are massive compared to other flats in the area. The viewer will know that if they've viewed any others or live in London currently. It is too small for a family though! I take your point though I will use more positive language.
If you think it will be viewed by wealthy singles, then things you might want to talk about are the quirky local deli/ interesting shop/fab restaurants, and the proximity to(and travel time from) the tube station/bus route into the city.
Don't assume they know anything ! All the things you know about your flat to be superior, mention. 'We've been very lucky with this flat, as you can see its an Edwardian conversion, which is unusally spacious, and the soundproofing is excellent' 'We love the light in this room in the evening - its so nice not to put the lights on till late when you've got people round' - sell the idea of them in the flat enjoying the lifestyle they aspire to.
Prepare yourself for all the people who go "OH MY GOD I LOVE IT IT'S PERFECT I'M GOING TO PUT MY DRESSING TABLE RIGHT HERE !!!!!!" and then give your estate agent the feedback "not interested" or you never hear from them again.
Possibly do a dry run with a friend - get them to pretend they're an buyer & go round with them. They can point out when you're babbling then.
We've just put our house on the market last week. At the weekend we had a couple come for a second viewing. I gave them the option of showing them around or them looking themselves, I was quite surprised they wanted me to show them around again!
Whenever we've looked at a house a second time we've always preferred to wander around by ourselves.
I hate doing viewings and do actually find myself pointing out the obvious!
We've also been asked, and have asked, how long the property has been on the market. It gives a prospective buyer an idea of how much leaway they have in terms of making an offer. It also made us wary of a house where we asked this and the vendor said it had only been on the market for 6 weeks and we knew we'd seen its sale board up for closer to 3 months. They were trying to put their sale in a better light to get a higher price - sure enough, they wouldn't accept any lower offers, didn't accept it needed a new bathroom and kitchen because they'd put one in with a tiny sink for a retired couple but wanted to sell the house to families. They wanted the asking price for their house as it stood. In the end they took it off the market because it didn't sell.
Sorry for the waffle but it's worth having a planned answer for this as a simple 6 months answer can ell a lot to potential buyers.
Perhaps reconsider having DH and or friend with baby around...
I know you're thinking of safety, but they'll clutter the place up. It's risky because it'll probably be raining but bung them in the garden!
I'm afraid the best advice I can give is that you don't conduct the viewings yourself, but ask your agent to do them.
Even if yours is only a very small, first-time buy flat, it is worth a significant amount of money and you owe it to yourself to sell it in a professional way.
For many years I worked in property management, and have seen hundreds of houses and their vendors. The best vendor is not as good as the worst agent, simply because they are not a disinterested party and this inevitably makes the potential buyer feel very ill at ease. Not what you want when you need them to instinctively feel at home!
Unfortunately people are not good at picking out really good estate agents. The ones who are very gung-ho about possible improvements are the ones buyers like (because they make them see the potential in a property), but they're the ones vendors detest (becauset they feel the agent is undermining their beloved home).
Just say that you are moving in to rented - don't say that its because prices are falling (might give your buyers the same idea). And, as others have said, do NOT under any circs say the place is too small for you now!!
People really want to know about neighbours and the general neighbourhood in London so if you have anything positive to say about those then make sure you do.
We're definitely doing the viewings ourselves! We're using Housenetwork. They are an "online agent". They do the pictures and manage the sale like normal EAs. But they don't do viewings.
They charge a flat fee of £600, rather than the approx £6K the traditional agents wanted! They come recommended from mumsnet so they must be good . Seriously though, if you google them, their customer rating (on independent sites) is excellent, much better than the traditional EAs.
Also I think it can be a fallacy that traditional EAs make you more money. Actually it's in their interests to sell it quickly and get onto the next sale, the commission they make on a few extra grand doesn't actually mean much to them.
Even if they do manage to talk the buyers into upping their offer, unless it's more than their extortionate fee, we're still better off without them, money wise!
Our target market is young professionals, who are all internet savvy and will be finding out about flats on the property sites, so I don't think we'll miss out by not having an EA's database.
The flat is lovely, and it will pretty much sell itself. It did to me ten years ago - I was looking for six months before I found it.
It's also in a fast moving market, I expect it to be sold within a matter of weeks. (The two other flats in the same building met their buyer on the first, and third viewings).
Also, my background is marketing, I reckon I have a good go at selling it in a professional way! Just printing out a brochure for the viewer to take away now.
Also, I have always been told that people find me easy to talk to - I am good at putting people at ease (virtual strangers confide in me all the time! I know loads of secrets. Not telling any though ) So I think I'll do OK there too.
"The best vendor is not as good as the worst agent" I'm sorry but that's rubbish!
We went to look at a house recently and the lady was so lovely it made me want to buy it from her more!
We also saw another place where the husband showed us round and told us how they were going through a divorce. Didn't put us off at all as the house was lovely!
"Perhaps reconsider having DH and or friend with baby around..."
I was open minded about this until I remembered about Suzy Lamplugh. (She was an estate agent, who was killed by a viewer.)
Not budging on that one now, definitely not doing viewings alone. The risk is infinitesimally small, but I'm not happy taking it.
thisoldgirl I would go as far to say that traditional EAs are doing a job which is based on a very outdated business model, and their days are numbered if they don't adapt.
Traditionally, we paid EAs for their expertise and access to information such as how the market is doing, and ability to market to many more people than we could reach as individuals.
But the internet has changed all that. We can get up to date, reliable, independent information without needed to go through an estate agent. We can market through the internet or pay agents such as Housenetwork to do it for us, reaching the same number of people that EAs do. Their large fees simply aren't justifiable these days, and once the internet agents catch on (which they will, it makes financial sense), their days are numbered.
Also, sorry but I find your attitude is exactly the kind of self-justifying and patronising nonsense that reinforces my distrust of EAs!
Of the three viewings we've done as buyers, the worst was with the EA! He didn't do anything wrong, he just didn't have the warmth of the owners, nor their inside knowledge or honesty.
I can see you're very, very confident, and hopefully that will translate with your buyers.
I am no fan of estate agents and letting agents, as my previous posts confirm, and their fees for doing very little are nauseating. I'm very interested in your internet agent and I can definitely see this being a way to avoid agents' fees.
Good luck with it all.
Sorry you caught the brunt of my anti-EA rant and I apologise!
I thought you were <shh!> one of them.
It does look like a great way to avoid fees, like I said they check out fantastically well if you google them.
I'll let you know how it goes, if you're still talking to me that is
<slinks away with tail firmly between legs>
How very dare you!
Nope - I used to be a director of a property management company, so agents were very definitely the enemy . There are some good ones though, and I'd never sell my own place myself as a result.
Thanks for your understanding! <phew!>
We saw four traditional agents. I was very impressed by one of them actually. I'd had several personal recommendations for her, and if we'd gone down that route we'd have chosen her. Just really professional and human. When we told her we'd chosen to try the online agent she wished us luck and sounded like she meant it, which was the professional thing to do IMO. The others tried to tell us what a mistake we were making, which just annoyed me as we'd already made the decision! If it doesn't sell and we change our minds I know who I'll be going to!
The worst agent was a very charming, well presented man, who enthusiastically declared the value to be significantly more than the others, while trying to tie us into a 16 week contract. (None of the others wanted a contract - the market is very strong here). 16 weeks to beat us down in price I have no doubt!
We sold our last house within a week of putting it on the market. Admittedly it was a boom time, but it would never have occurred to me to get the agent to show people around and they never suggested it.
I showed potential buyers into the kitchen first (because it had wow factor), then the rest of downstairs. Upstairs I showed them into the smallest bedroom, which was quite large and said that it was the smallest bedroom. I could see they were thinking "if this is the smallest the others must be good". DD, who was two at the time, also did her bit and she would say "this is my bed" etc and although it sounds twee, she won the viewers over. We had three offers on the house and sold at the full asking price.
But that was 9 years ago.
As has been said, dont mention your home is now too small for you. Also, I wouldnt mention the fact that there is no fridge in the kitchen unless they raise that, or that the cupboard wall is very thin (oh no). Nor about moving the washing machine. In fact, I wouldnt say very much at all.
Most of us know pretty quickly whether we could live in a particular house we are looking round, and need a bit of quiet to picture it how we would have it.
I once showed 11 sets of people in one day round a previous home. By the end of that day (and a fair few mistakes) I'd worked out that taking my lead from the viewers was the best way rather than pointing lots of things out. The only things worth pointing out were those which were real positives but werent necessarily obvious such as the garden/certain rooms facing south, and the ease of parking.
I've dealt with a lot of agents for work and can therefore tell which ones are the really good ones. Most people only buy or sell three times in a lifetime, and therefore don't have much of an opportunity to find out.
The test of a good agent is what they do before you go on the market. Good ones will prepare a factsheet with your assistance about every conceivable question your buyer may ask, and help you assemble all the relevant paperwork. Heading off trouble, if you like.
They will also tell you - in quite precise terms - how to present your property, first in photographs and secondly in viewings (two different things, which most vendors don't realise).
They will also know about local precedents - what has sold and what's possible structurally and architecturally. Thanks to all the berluddy wanky telly programmes, everyone wants to "add value"; but vendors resist talking about this because it implies their choices are wrong.
Great agents also really pursue the sale. Most of their work happens after an offer is accepted - chasing the chain and all the people in it in order to get the deal done. This can take a lot of energy and the hide of a rhino, and frankly most people don't have the stomach for it. Having said that, it sounds like you're deliberately appealing to cash buyers and FTBs and are moving into rented, so this will make life much more straightforward for you.
Don't forget that you can always instruct a regular agent if you decide selling online isn't getting you the results you want.
"how to present your property, first in photographs and secondly in viewings (two different things, which most vendors don't realise). "
Ooh, that's interesting! How should we present it differently for viewings?
Enthusiastic vendors can be a bit overbearing, IME.
The best approach is to be quite low key and answer questions as they arise rather than bombard them with information whilst they're trying to get a feel for the place. First viewings are all about gut reactions and if they're not feeling the love, nothing you can say will change their minds.
The best vendor viewing I've had was the chap who said, "I'll carry on reading the paper, you have a good look round and see for yourself if it's your cup of tea." He was sitting in the window seat with his teapot and paper, bathed in glorious sunshine like a cat. Obviously the only way to swap places was to buy his flat!
We've been house shopping for a year now. I really hate it when the EA shows us round as they don't have the 'living in' knowledge that I
want need to know. They also tend to be stalkers - I want shown round to get an overview, then I want left alone.
As a buyer, I much prefer being shown round by the vendor because you can get so much extra info from them. But the advice not to say too much is a good one; I remember looking round one house where I was keen to hear about it's history, and while the vendor was telling my husband all the stuff I wanted to know, his wife was prattling onto me about how cute our baby is. Nice of her, yes, but really annoying because DH did not retain the info I was keen to hear and I couldn't really ask the guy to repeat it
Also, don't spend too much time worrying about it! If someone loves your flat they are going to want to buy it whatever you do or don't say. We were once shown round a house by the vendor's teenage daughter, because the agent failed to show and her parents were out. She was in her pyjamas and had a hangover; we loved the house and made an offer the next day.
I agree about the EA not doing the viewings, a good vendor is a much better sales person than the EA - the love and enthusiasm for house (fake or real!) comes through and many questions buyers ask can't always be answered by the EA straight away.
Obviously it won't work for you, but our EA took us round our house and showed us the best order to do the viewing, where to finish, basic questions to be prepared for and a rough guide as what to say and what to avoid. You could always be cheeky and go to a viewing of another property to see how someone else manages it. Tread carefully though, no one loves a sightseer!
I think you need to be wary of not overloading them with information but make sure that you get across the points that made you buy the house - assuming they're similar sort of buyers.
I just sold through house network. TBH apart from the bathroom which is on the way upstairs to kitchen and living room, I didn't show any of the rooms. Just told people to go and look around and I'll be waiting in living room to answer any questions. Worked pretty well as people who weren't interested just said thanks and left, and the others came and had a chat, then I could show them anything they had specific questions about. We had 15 viewings in 2 weeks and 5 offers, so was definitely successful. Best of luck mother
How did your viewing go OP?
(I'm stealing your tips btw! )
First one went well, nice couple, didn't stay very long but I overheard him saying "i really like it" as they left. Didn't catch her reply though, damn!
Got another one in 20 mins ...
OP, sorry if this is a daft question, but does the buyer offer to you directly?
Will you have to do the negotiations on price?
I'm quite tempted to try out internet selling myself next time so very interested to know how the nitty gritty works.
not a daft question, kensingtonkat!
The buyer deals with housenetwork like they would a normal agent, so they make the offer to them, not us - except that they do it over the phone (or Internet if they prefer). So HN do all the stuff a traditional agent does, except the valuation and the viewings.
Sorry Mother, bit late replying to your question about presenting/stageing now you've already had viewings.
The not very helpful answer is I don't know . I just remember accompanying the agents and photographers on their walk-throughs. Some odd things I do remember:
Blinds must all be suspended to the same height all the time, and curtains must always be open unless they're truly spectacular, when they should be photographed closed but left open during viewings
During viewings, all windows should be slightly open and all internal doors closed. Should all be closed in photographs
Loo seats down, loo paper hotel-folded
No loo brush
No evidence of pets
Cupboards clean on the inside and the fridge should be spotless and only sparsely stocked
Hang a designer dress or coat on the back of bedroom doors during viewings
Remove family photos on tables for photography but re-instate them during viewings
All books and DVDs should align with the edge of bookshelves
Coffee table clear during photographs but staged during viewings
There should always be a smart invitation on the mantelpiece (the stager used mock-ups!)
A bottle of champagne should be in the fridge, especially if it's integrated into the kitchen units
The dishwasher must be empty
Every large house should have evidence of children, even if no children live there
In this weather! You have got to be joking! I wouldn't ask a potential viewer to remove their shoes, so somewhere to wipe their feet is a necessity.
thisoldgirl thanks for that, really useful. Some good tips there
We've done lots of those. Flat is decluttered in the extreme!
We're have got a doormat, but it's a brand new one, with a contemporary design. We've laid new carpets last week so a doormat is a must!
About the viewings, both couples seemed fairly keen, although I know that could just be politeness!
The second couple were really nice too. Turns out they have a friend on the same road, so they know the area well. If I had to guess, my money's on them at the moment I think.
The viewings went well I think. I told them that I was going to show them round, then leave them to it to have a proper look themselves, and we did just that.
I think it worked well. The only problem was that I had intended to wait while they looked in the garden so they had access to all rooms, but it was raining. Never mind!
I forgot to give the first couple a brochure (damn!) but I remembered for the second. Waiting impatiently for feedback from the agent now
Sorry that was terrible grammar!
I meant I intended to wait in the garden while they had a look around.
(Not that I intended to wait while they looked at the garden!)
Good news on the viewings, Mother.
Grubby doormats are a bit of a turn off, I agree, especially when they're damp and stink.
Though we once went to a viewing where we had to put blue plastic shoe protectors on. I wouldn't have minded if the carpets were new, but it was to view a house that had been let to students
Turned out the students had insisted, so any stains to the carpet didn't affect their deposit. Smart thinking.
I'm not keen on viewing places with tenants. I know from bitter experience tenants don't always leave when you ask them to!
We've got another two viewings booked for later in the week, so I'm going to use some of the tips here then.
We'll get it down to a fine art eventually!
Rhubarbgarden thanks for your post, made me and DP too. And you're right, the most important thing is the flat, not what I do!
OK, so got this feedback, from the second couple:
"The viewer has indicated that they may be interested in pursuing the property further, they are currently deciding between this property and another one that is in a better location for them but doesn't have the space that this one does. They are hoping to come to a decision in the next week or so."
What do you reckon?
Hedging their bets......! There's nothing you can do but keep showing people round, and try not to get too hung up on it. It's so stressful for the first couple of times then you get more relaxed about it. You can't make them choose it, you've done your job by showing them round, just sit back and relax
and keep the bottle handy!
That sounds hopeful! Sounds as though, leaving location out of it, they actually prefer your house.
No worries I knew exactly what you meant
They've asked for a second viewing, so fingers crossed!
OK, had 6 viewings now, hopefully getting the hang of it!
The second viewers are still interested but they've got three on their shortlist from what I can gather.
The first couple haven't responded to the EA's follow up email/call so I can only assume they're not interested. (Shame, they were the cash buyers!).
The other 4 came this weekend so have to wait till at least Monday for feedback! One definitely liked it. She was lovely, stayed for ages and talked about how the flat was much bigger than most in the area. Whether that means an offer or not - we'll just have to wait and see! She'll be back for a second look with her mum.
One was too tall for it so we'll count her out! (The ceiling in the kitchen is low and she was as tall as DP - 6'2''!).
The other two couples were really hard to read, they weren't giving anything away! My gut instinct says maybe to one of them and probably not to the other.
I accompanied them round once, then let them have a good look on their own.
I reckon I did just as good a job as an EA showing them round! And I was able to answer questions about neighbours and local shops better than any EA would have been able to as they don't live there!
It wasn't slick and professional, but then people don't expect it to be from the owner I don't think.
At one point I meant to say "this is a real granite floor" but what came out was "this is the floor" and then I kind of got stuck! Talk about stating the blooming obvious
But that was with the really nice lady, she said "um, yes" and found it funny - it was fine. (I did manage to explain what I really actually meant after)
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