Teri Karush Rogers writes for The New York Times about the inconvenience that often occurs way before the packing stage of a move.
WHEN most people consider the pain of moving, they think of the actual move: cardboard mountains, insubordinate packing tape, back strain and bewildered children.
But for many, the stress is nothing compared with the torture of living inside the place they are selling. Tethered indefinitely, they must endure invasion (and banishment) at an hour’s notice, countless rejections by strangers, scrutiny of voyeuristic neighbors and, more frequently these days, the erosion of their own expectations.
She goes on to point out that vacating a property for showings, decluttering, and being thick skinned regarding feedback and the overall number of showings is often imperative in procuring a buyer at a reasonable price.
Of all the points that are made regarding the inconvenience when selling a home, I think the most important and perhaps the one that will generate the greatest return is decluttering. Even the buyer who thinks they have incredible "vision" is challenged by seeing a space that is packed full of furniture, toys, and personal brickabrack. Most buyers don’t have this vision at all and for those that do, they will likely use the clutter to negotiate a better price suggesting that the apartment "needs work."
Leaving your home for showings is also very important as buyers are less likely to provide honest feedback when the seller is present. Most don’t want to offend and are more likely to overstate the positive than share anything negative about the space.
In today’s market, a flexible showing schedule is also helpful so not only must you leave the home, but you should be prepared to leave it on short notice if your agent believes they have a viable purchaser which leads me to another important point…
Understand that in a market with increasing inventory/choices for buyers, most agents aren’t interested in wasting their time showing to someone who isn’t a "real" buyer. Furthermore, buyers and their agents will often tell you whatever you want to hear to schedule an appointment at their convenience. And although I believe that you should accomodate any and all requests for showings, remember that it is impossible for your agent to know absolutely whether or not someone is "THE" buyer for your home. Most sellers seem to be willing to show as much as needed to procure the right buyer. That said, as time passes, patience grows thin.
When my wife and I sold our last co-op, it was such an inconvenience but in the end well worth the aggravation of removing and storing all of my son’s toys and our personal belongings. During open houses, I packed the stairwell (leaving room for egress of course) with everything that I thought negatively impacted the overall aesthetic of the apartment. I also touched up paint and made sure beds were made, clothes were hung, countertops were empty, and bookshelves weren’t stuffed. I truly believe that because of these actions we sold at a higher price and quicker than if we had done nothing.
Lastly, if you are a seller who absolutely resists these tips and advice, understand that your agent is not a magician. The perception of your property will affect your bottom line. If you are a buyer with vision, you may actually reap the benefits of the seller who refuses to prepare their home for showing.