Should you stay or should you go when your home is being shown?
Gently put, most agents agree that when potential homebuyers come to see your home, it's best that you leave the premises.
Perspective buyers don't want to see owners hovering or milling about. When they do, they get uncomfortable and feel as if they are intruding. This often causes buyers to look quickly without gaining a proper feel for the home. Buyers want to envision themselves at the house, not the current residents. Besides, too many people in the house at once can be both overwhelming and distracting. Buyers and their agent often feel that they can't talk openly, because the owner may be listening. Even opening closets, which is common during a home search, feels intrusive with the owner nearby.
Once, when I was showing a lakeside property, the owners accompanied us outside to enjoy the views. With all the talk about West Nile Virus, the buyers chose to ask the sellers if there were many mosquitos from the lake. The sellers replied, "Not really, the bats eat them." Their kids went running for the car, and they did not buy that house.
The most common reason sellers give for sticking around is that they believe home shoppers won't be able to find everything, and the sellers want to point out the important features. Another is that owners feel they can help "sell" the property by talking about the positives. Often an owner's reminiscing about the details of a renovation, that the buyer plans to redo anyway, just makes the buyer feel that they are paying for someone else's taste that they do not share.
I have also often heard sellers apologize for certain things in their house that bother them -- things that had not bothered the buyers before the sellers raised their concern level. Buyers then ask themselves, "Should that bother me too?"
Rest assured, your real estate agent is well trained in showcasing your home and in reading buyers and knowing when it's best to relay information to them. If you bombard a buyer with too much information all at once, you are going to leave a less-favorable impression. You might even hurt your cause by calling attention to something buyers aren't interested in.
Let buyers discover your home's features themselves at their own pace.
When the homeowner is nearby, they also may be faced with questions that they do not wish to answer. What is their motivation for moving? What is their bottom line price? Sellers have hired an agent to coordinate the business end of the transaction, and perceived motivation may impact how hard a buyer will push the deal. The truth is, sellers don't have to disclose their motivation or their bottom line price. It's better to avoid being in that situation if possible.
Some sellers choose to wait outside in their car or on the patio, which is better, but still not ideal. Again, if prospective buyers feel like they are being rushed or inconveniencing the seller they are going to move on to the next property on their list quickly.
Face it, there are some parts of selling a home that can be challenging and vacating the home is at the top of that list -- especially when there are kids to care for, dinners to cook and work to be done.
However, buyers should be able to spend as much time as they need in your home, envisioning the possibility of living there someday with their family. So go to a neighbor's home, the library or shopping. The inconvenience will be worth it in the long run. Don't forgot, no matter what price range you are in, it is likely to be the most amount of money someone is spending in a single transaction.
Linda Skolnick's "Skolnick's Scoop" appears every other Friday. She is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Riverside in Westport and can be reached by calling 203-246-0088 or by through her website, www.GoAskLinda.com.