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Tips for showing your house

If you use an online estate agent to sell your home you'll usually conduct the viewings yourself, unless you pay extra. We look at the dos and don'ts of showing a home yourself.

Showing your house – can you do it yourself?

The housing market has changed considerably in the last decade or so – not just in terms of prices and properties but also in how we actually search for and sell homes. So not only do people usually start their housing search online with Rightmove or Zoopla, many sellers are selling via online estate agents too. According to reports around 7% of all property sales are carried out by online estate agents.

If you use an online estate agent you’ll usually need to conduct the viewings yourself, unless you opt to pay more for hosted viewings. For some people showing a home themselves instead of an estate agent doing it is a major plus – who knows your home better than you do? Conducting a viewing means you’re able to highlight your home’s best attributes, speak from personal experience and, hopefully, ensure a quick sale. For others, it seems like a daunting experience. But it needn’t be. Here are the dos and don’ts of showing a home to help guide you.

Showing your house? Get the basics right

When it comes to tips for showing your house to potential buyers, make sure you get the basics right first. These include:

Improve your kerb appeal. Our research shows more than two thirds (68%) of homeowners say kerb appeal was important in their choice of home.  Our study found the most important features for kerb appeal were well-maintained windows and a roof that appeared in good condition. A well-maintained front garden, pathways and fences were also highlighted as important, in addition to a well-painted frontage. For more ideas on improving your home exterior, see our guide on how to update the exterior of your home.

Declutter and tidy: This may seem obvious but you’d be surprised how many people conduct viewings – or have an agent do so – without doing last night’s dishes or making the beds. Make sure your property is clean and tidy. If you’re showing your house while living in it, pack up some of the things you won’t be needing in between now and your move and move to your loft/basement or put in storage. This will make the property seem more spacious and allow the potential buyer the chance to mentally position their own belongings. If you’re looking to have items safely and conveniently disposed of, take a look at our partner LoveJunk.

Depersonalise: Keep family photos and baby pictures to a minimum. You don’t have to pretend you don’t live there, but the buyer needs to be able to envision this as their home – that’s more difficult to do if your children’s smiling faces beam down from every wall!

Get the scent for success: Open the windows to air the property before viewers arrive (but make sure the house isn’t too cold) and avoid cooking anything with too strong an aroma the night before!

Light, bright and airy: Turn on all the lights, and open all the curtains to create an inviting space. 

Tips for showing viewers around your house: Be flexible

By definition, if you’re showing a home yourself you’ll need to be around for the viewings. And these can be time consuming, especially if you have a lot of interest. But it’s important to try to be as accommodating as possible to your potential buyers and work around their schedules. If you can’t fit them in, you might miss out on a potential buyer. This might mean agreeing to viewings at different times to when you’d prefer. But when you’re selling your house you’ll want as many potential buyers as possible to see it. So try to be as flexible as you can.  

Get to know your viewers

Ask your agent for any details they have on the potential buyers so that you can tailor the information you give to suit their needs. If they’re a family with children you’ll know schools and local parks will be selling points. If they’re a young couple moving out of the city centre flag up the pubs/restaurants within walking distance.

Create the right atmosphere

If an estate agent was showing a home, it would ideally be empty so that the potential buyers can look around in peace. So if you’re showing a home yourself and you have children, do you have a relative or friend who can look after them during the viewings?

Similarly, if you have pets it’s also a good idea for them not to be there for the viewings. You might have an adorable pet dog, but if a potential buyer is afraid of dogs or allergic to them it will put them on edge. And you want all their focus to be on your house – not your pets!   

Set a comfortable temperature

We might all be trying to cut our energy bills right now but showing a house isn’t the time to do it. If it’s cold enough to wear a sweater to stay warm, turn on the heat. You can always turn it back down again when the potential buyers leave.

If you’re worried about bills, find out what energy bills help is available with our guide on Energy bills help: What’s available?

Focus on the best features

Make a list of the property’s best features and plan your viewing around that. Start with the best room in the house. First impressions count so if your kitchen is stunning that’s the place to start. Highlight all the unique features as you go. Throw in interesting facts. If your property has the original doors then say so, an original fireplace, then showcase it.  

And equally important is where your viewing will finish. If you have several rooms that are particularly impressive know which one you are going to end up in once the viewing is complete so that the viewing ends on a high.

If you’ve invested in home improvements, point them out. If your property has potential for extension or you have a vision for the garden, point it out as the opportunity to put your own mark on a place and have options for growth is appealing.  

And if you have had planning permission granted allowing you to extend the property, leave the plans out so the potential buyers can look at them.

Be personable

Buying a home is as much emotional as it is financial. So be friendly and make buyers feel welcome. Offer to make a cup of tea and invite questions to try to put your potential buyers at ease.

Know your own home

Make sure you’re able to answer any questions about the property. And you’ll also need to be able to answer questions about the local area too.

So do your research. If you can prep yourself with the answers to potential questions you will be able to give your prospective buyers the information that they need instantly when showing a home, removing the hassle of them having to chase up details later.

When you’re showing a home, some questions buyers ask may include:

  • When was the property built?

  • How much does it cost to heat the home?

  • Is the home fully insulated?

  • What are the boundaries of the property and who owns what?

  • Why are you selling?

  • What are the local schools like and catchment information? Even if you don’t have kids you’ll need to know this.

  • What are the local facilities, transport links and local community like?

  • Are other developments planned?

  • What is the house’s energy performance rating?

If you’re selling a house in England, Wales or Northern Ireland you’ll need an EPC. It’s easy to find out if your property already has a valid EPC by checking the government’s EPC register. If it doesn’t have one, you can save by shopping around as it’s cheaper to get EPC quotes from local Energy Assessors directly.

Dos and don’ts of showing your house

Do give your viewers space. If you’ve ever viewed a property with the owner present you’ll know how difficult it can be to talk openly about what you like and, more importantly, don’t like about the house. You may want to have an open discussion with your partner about how you cannot live with a galley kitchen and you’ll need to knock down some walls. Instead you’ll find yourself complimenting the owner on how wonderfully cosy the room is. The whole thing turns into charade of polite conversation and unfounded compliments and the viewing ends up being pointless.

So when it comes to showing a home, one of the most important tips is to know when to give your viewers some space. Lead them into the best room of the house first and then ask if they would like to be left to it – at least then you can be sure they’ve started in the best spot. If the weather is nice go sit in the garden, let them explore themselves and give them a chance to talk.

Don’t hurry them. Let them know they can take all the time they need. This is one benefit of showing a home yourself. If an estate agent was doing the viewing they may have more limited time for the viewing if they have another appointment to get to. It may take some extra flexibility on your part when showing a home, but it will be worthwhile if you can get an offer.

You’ll need a conveyancing solicitor if you’re selling your house. Get instant quotes from quality assured firms in your local area

Don’t feel rushed

When you’re showing a home it may be that your viewers fall head over heels in love with your house and make an offer on the spot. But don’t feel under pressure to accept there and then. You’re perfectly entitled to thank them and say you’ll get back to them. Saying you need to discuss the offer with your partner or reflect overnight and speak to your estate agent is an obvious way of buying you some time.

What not to do when showing your house

When it comes to dos and don’ts of showing a house, you might unwittingly be giving a bad impression about your house without realising it. For example, if you have an electric heater out it might give the impression that your house gets very chilly. Likewise, fans on display may imply your house gets very hot and stuffy.

And if drawers and cupboards are overflowing it may look like you don’t have enough storage space. So try to view your house through a potential buyer’s eyes and see what you need to tweak.

Staying safe when showing your house

There are also some important safety considerations to be mindful of if you’re showing a home. It’s advisable to make sure someone else is in the house with you. If you don’t have a partner, could a neighbour or friend help? And make sure you don’t leave valuables out either.

If you are showing a home alone, let a friend know what time that will be and agree to touch base after it’s done. Your personal safety comes first.

What if you don’t want to do your own house showing?

If you decide showing a home yourself isn’t for you, check if your online estate agent offers a hosted viewings service. You’ll usually have to pay a fee if you want them to host viewings. If this isn’t an option or if you’ve gone off the idea of using an online estate agent, you may wish to switch estate agents and use a High street agent instead. If you go down that route, you can easily compare the performance of local estate agents in your areas using our Best Estate Agent Finder tool – their success rate, how long they take to sell properties like yours and their likelihood of achieving the asking price.

What should you not say when viewing a house

If you’re a potential buyer you may be wondering what you should not say when viewing a house. You should never let slip your maximum budget. And try not to let on how keen you are as you’ll need your poker face on to negotiate effectively.

Article from Home Owners Alliance by Angela Kerr


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