Depending on a home seller's priorities and timelines, sellers may choose to live in their home while it is for sale. While it can't always be avoided, living in a home while it for sale can be somewhat difficult for the owners.
So what should homeowners keep in mind if they need to live in their home while it is for sale?
The first thing homeowners should know is that the way we live in a home is a lot different than the way we sell a home. Furniture and personal belongings may need to be moved or removed, serious de-cluttering is a must, and the home should be kept as clean as possible for showings.
Ken and I want to help our clients prepare their home for showings the best we can so that the offers received by our sellers are the strongest possible. In a perfect world, homes for sale look and feel like a hotel- clean and neutral- so prospective buyers can easily envision themselves living in a home. Also, we hope that the availability of the home for showings is as open as possible so we can accommodate all buyers and their agents who would like to view the home.
Here are 10 things sellers should keep in mind if they are living in a home while it is for sale:
- Buyer's agents will request one hour showing windows in which they would like to bring over their buyers for a showing. For our listings, Ken and I use a third party showing service called Centralized Showing. Centralized Showing helps us contact our sellers to set up the showing time, verify the buyer agent's licensing credentials, and provides the buyer's agent with showing instructions and the code for the lockbox so the agents can access the key for the property. Sometimes, these showing requests can happen without a lot of notice and sellers should try to accommodate requests if they can.
- If schedules are a challenge, sellers can block out times each day in which the home can be shown. These blocks can be coordinated between the listing agent and showing service so buyer’s agents can set showings easily and sellers can plan their days.
- Homeowners should leave the home for showings so buyers can feel comfortable and take their time envisioning themselves living in what could be their new home.
- Remove Pets for Showings- Also, remove kitty litter boxes if possible, put away doggie bowls, beds and toys, and vacuum the carpets.
- Leave the lights on and the blinds open for showings.
- Keep the furnace or air conditioning set at a comfortable level. When it is too hot or cold in a property, buyers typically want to leave more quickly and that can throw a wrench in buying plans.
- Lock up or stow away valuables, jewelry, and prescription medication. Rather than worry about whether or not someone might look through drawers or closets, make sure there is nothing valuable to find there in the first place. While it is an unfortunate reality that homeowners need to keep this in mind, the truth is that homes for sale can be targets for thieves. This is one reason that Ken and I aren't very keen on doing open houses for our sellers- it's difficult to know exactly who is coming through a home during an open house and this dynamic can create an opportunity for those who might like to steal a seller's valuable possessions.
- Turn off recording devices- these days, many homeowners have smart devices, baby monitors, doorbells, and security systems that record video and audio. Make sure these are disabled prior to home showings. Homeowners could be putting themselves at risk in a legal sense if they record buyers who don't know they are being recorded. We request feedback via email after every showing so sellers don’t need to record showings.
- After buyer's showings cease, sellers should be ready for a few more appointments. Once sellers have an accepted contract, buyers and other professionals will need to visit the home a few more times- for the buyer's home inspection, appraisal, and final walk through. Sellers should plan on leaving the home for these appointments just like they did for the home showings.
- Consider a pricing strategy that ensures a quicker sale. Having a home listed for an extended amount of time can be frustrating for sellers living in the home as they will need to keep the home “showing ready” for buyers. Pricing competitively doesn't mean selling the home for less than it's worth. In fact, we have seen pricing competitively with the market usually results in a higher sales price. A competitive price can drive multiple buyers to the home, create excitement, and encourage multiple offer situations in which buyers are bidding against each other.
Let us know if you have any questions!