If you're trying to sell your home, you've probably scrutinized it, staged it, and scrubbed it down from floorboards to rooftop as if the folks from Architectural Digest were stopping by for a cover shoot. OK, so it's in immaculate shape—but your home isn't the only thing under scrutiny here. You are, too! That's right: No matter how nice your home is, your behavior can also affect how buyers feel about making an offer.
Last week we told you the secret etiquette rules that every home buyer needs to know in order to nail the deal. Today we're focusing on the selling side of the equation. Here are the (previously) unwritten etiquette rules sellers should follow to show their home—and themselves—in the best possible light.
Sure, you're dying to know if prospective buyers will love what you've done with the kitchen, but Realtors® agree sellers should not be there lurking in the shadows during an open house or showing.
“Buyers don't feel as comfortable when the owner is at the home watching their every move," explains Nicholas Kensington of Scottsdale Real Estate. “Get out of their way so that they can start to picture themselves living there instead of being spied on." So take a powder. Or at least hide.
Take your pets with you
You think Humbert is the cutest labradoodle ever, but not everyone is bound to share that opinion. In addition to having allergies, some home shoppers may not be in the market for a run-in with an animal they don't know.
“Imagine, as a buyer, having the background music set to ‘barking dog' while you are trying to take in the home's nuances that you, as the seller, have worked so hard to hone," says Brenda Hayward, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker. “To say nothing of the stress it puts on your beloved pet. Take your mutt for a car ride, to the dog park, or for a long walk. It will do you both good."
Your pooch may not love the idea of strangers paying your home a visit.
Betty Clark, who claims an “irrational fear of birds," says she was shocked by how many open houses she ran from due to unexpected tweeting and chirping from caged and uncaged feathered friends. Don't alienate would-be purchasers by forcing your pets on them.
Move your car
“Make it easy for visitors to park and view the home," Kensington notes. “No one likes parking issues. Having them is a sure way to get a viewing off to a bad start." In fact, if potential buyers have to park a block away and walk, they may just skip taking the tour of your home. Or if they're willing to make the hike, they may be in a lousy mood by the time they enter your home. Why risk it?
Lay out important documents
If questions arise while buyers are on the premises, it may help them decide to put in an offer that much faster if they can find answers quickly and in writing.
“Leaving necessary documents in an easy-to-find spot isn't just good for selling, it's also good selling etiquette," says Kensington. “Put out the home inspection report, appraisal, home warranty, monthly bill information—gas, oil, electric—and proof of any major repairs are all good things to let people look through when they are considering buying your home."
Offer some refreshments
House hunters can get parched and peckish. You can help!
“Putting out a few small bottled waters in a small bowl of ice is always appreciated, along with some light, easy grab-and-go sort of refreshments like mints or cookies," says Cara Ameer, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker.
Be patient waiting for feedback
Of course, you're dying to know what buyers thought of your home, but that information may not flow back to you instantaneously. Buyers often want to process what they've seen and think it over before making an offer. If one comes through, don't worry, you'll hear about it!
“It is reasonable to ask for feedback from your Realtor after the showing, but understand it may take a day or two for the buyer's agent to respond," Hayward says.
Don't be greedy
Who doesn't want top dollar for their home? But an unwillingness to negotiate can kill a possible deal and keep your home on the market long after you were hoping to be unpacking at your new place.
“Focusing on your bottom line is always important, but greed can lead to disaster. Remember a little of something is better than a lot of nothing. Generosity will lead you to your promise land," says Josh Myler, a Realtor with The Agency.
Listen to the professionals
If your Realtor has some suggestions for improvements that may help sell the home faster, take them to heart but don't take them personally.
“Don't shoot the messenger," says Caroline Gosselin, a Realtor with Sotheby's Prominent Properties. “Keep emotions out and listen to what a licensed, trained, professional has to say about the house, be it a Realtor or an inspector. It’s immature and unmannerly not to be able to take criticism and be able to move on."
Liz Alterman is a writer who's covered a variety of subjects, from personal finance issues for CNBC.com to career advice for The Muse.