Your home is just that – yours. You own it, so no one can force you to leave if you don’t want to. However, it is best to make yourself scarce when you’re trying to sell it. Most real estate agents are too polite or tactful to bluntly say so, but all of them would very much prefer it if you disappeared while prospective buyers tour your residence. Hanging around makes you look desperate to sell, increases the risk you’ll say something you shouldn’t, and makes most home shoppers incredibly uncomfortable. You may not want to leave, but there are many good reasons why you should.
Coming Off Desperate
Buyers tend to view clingy sellers as desperate. A pesky seller who insists on overstating all the home’s positive benefits can appear too overpowering for a potential purchaser. Not only that, sellers who are present during a showing might give off the impression that they are overbearing, difficult to work with or are not trusting. If your home is sound, why do you need to hover around and oversee showings? Some buyers who sense desperation will circle like sharks in the water and try to beat you up on the home’s price. Others will brand you as overbearing and assume working with you will be far more trouble than the home is worth.
Open Mouth, Insert Foot
Yes, it’s true that a homeowner knows more details about a property than anyone else. You may think that talking to buyers yourself is the best way to convey accurate information, but saying too much can blow a deal. Sellers often inadvertently reveal something damaging without realizing it. Telling a buyer, for instance, how much you love the house and hate to leave it can make them think you’ll stay too firm on the price. A funny quip about a neighbor’s weird habit may turn a buyer off. Even seemingly innocent statements may reveal more than they should, so leave the small talk to their agent. Don’t risk revealing confidential information or disclosing information that could bring you a lower offer.
Persistent sellers who resist leaving the home during a showing should take a step back and consider how the buyer feels when the owner is present. Many buyers feel uncomfortable when viewing a home while the owner is waiting in the next room. Buyers like to check out the closets and peek into cupboards, and they feel conflicted doing so with a seller present. Buyers also like to critique a home and discuss aspects of it with their spouse or agent, and they don’t want to do so in the seller’s presence. Buyers tend to fear revealing that they like a home as it gives the seller more bargaining power. They also won’t criticize a home as they fear insulting the seller.
The Lived-in Look
It’s hard to keep a house spotless while you’re using it; however, sellers who remain during showings often ignore the little things. You can’t, for example, put away your kids’ toys if they’re currently playing with them. Avoid presenting an unkempt look by doing a quick declutter before the showing and then leaving so the home stays neat and tidy for the buyers.
If you cannot leave, it is best to sit quietly in an out of the way corner and not engage the buyers in conversation. Prospective buyers judge a home’s feel as well as its features, and your presence can create an awkward, crowded vibe. A homeowner hovering in the background can also make a potential buyer uncomfortable when he’s viewing your home.
A Note to Renters:
If you’re renting a property and your landlord is selling, you admittedly have a bit less incentive to leave during showings. While your landlord can’t force you to leave during showings, any interference with the landlord’s ability to sell or show the home might result in the termination of your lease or another uncomfortable situation. Read your lease carefully. Some leases do dictate how a tenant is expected to behave if the landlord elects to sell the property. Many states, including Florida, require that your landlord give you 24 hours notice before entering the property, so you should know in advance of a showing and have time to make other plans.