Sticking with the previous metaphor, home tours are your house’s version of dating. More like speed dating since most home tours last less than half an hour. Prepare for the buyer’s tour by ensuring your home is impersonally inviting and warm.
Once the seller has cleaned and prepared their home for sale, it is time to invite potential buyers to tour your home. Sellers are sometimes tempted to stay at the house while buyers tour their homes. After all, they know their home better than anyone else and can show the buyer what they will appreciate most in the house. However, the seller’s presence makes buyers nervous, and nervous buyers do not make offers. It is also a good idea to leave your pets someplace safe and away from buyers and their agents.
On the page below, you will find tips on preparing for home tours. We reviewed the research on what influences buyers’ likelihood to make an offer after touring a home. We also give examples of influence we have seen work when touring homes with buyers! You will find more in-depth information on other home-selling topics on the linked pages below.
Once your home is ready for tours, it is time to consider pricing, marketing, and expenses. How do you price your home in that sweet spot where buyers flock and the offers come in at or above the list price? What should you expect if you sell it on your own? Who do I market to when selling my Tallahassee home?
We hope you find this information useful. If you have any questions, please reach out to us!
If you are also buying, there are a lot more moving parts that need to be coordinated. Check out our Buyers Pages, and please download a copy of our book for Tallahassee Home Buyers.
How to protect your family and valuables during home tours.
There is no way to sell your Tallahassee homes without allowing home tours. The listing agent will leave a Bluetooth lockbox with you. Some hang them from the front door, but I do not recommend that for a couple reasons. First, the lockbox almost always damages the door as it swings. Second, the seller cannot remove the lockbox when they do not want to be disturbed.
Most Tallahassee Realtors are conscientious. They lock the doors and make sure their customers are not left alone in the house. However, they are human, and mistakes can happen. Here are some things you can do to protect your family and valuables during home tours.
1. Secure and remove valuables before the home is listed.
Many people have home offices and filing cabinets. Password-protect your computer and any electronics. A locking cabinet is useful for storing private medical or financial documents (and many other things). Identity theft has been a reported problem in other places. If you do not have a family safe, consider taking your valuables with you. Don’t forget to secure these items:
- Guns and rifles.
- Prescriptions and medications.
- Extra house and car keys.
- Jewelry and other portable wealth.
- Clear your desk and lock the drawer.
2. Require appointments for all home tours.
Sometimes someone will knock on the door of a house for sale. Do not let anyone inside. Ask them to contact your listing agent or their buyers’ agent. They may be over-eager buyers, or they may be looking for an easy theft. Do not take the chance.
3. Make sure all doors and windows lock properly.
This seems obvious, but you would be surprised at the number of times we have had to call the listing agent because we could not get a door to lock. We have also heard of attendees at an open house checking the security of the doors and windows. This would make the house an easy target for a later break-in.
4. Depersonalize and secure confidential information.
This includes all bills and correspondence. When working for the Department of Corrections, we were always warned about leaving personal information where inmates could see it. We saw this in person when one young inmate made friends with several administrative assistants. He would ask them about their pictures and personal items, making friends with them over time. Eventually, one of the young women agreed to break the law and mail and envelope for him. That is an extreme case, but criminals are always looking for an opportunity. Besides, buyers can see themselves in personalized homes better anyway.
5. What to consider about security cameras and home tours.
We have received calls from listing agents to discuss our conversation with the buyers during home tours. Under Florida law, you cannot record someone without their permission. That does not mean you are not allowed to eavesdrop on the conversation. This is something most buyers’ agents warn against. From experience, it is easy to forget.
Home tours should show a beautiful, impersonal house, yet also be warm and inviting
Home tours are the seller’s opportunity to sell their home directly to the buyer. We cover a lot more information on preparing to sell your home here. The point of all that prepping is to convince a buyer to bring you an awesome offer. At this point, your home should be generically beautiful. That does not mean that you should remove all personality! Having a spot of color draws the eye.
At this time, you should have removed personal photos and mementos, and stored valuable objects. Besides being private, these items distract the buyer from the home they may call their own. Be careful using perfumes and room deodorizers. If the smell is overwhelming or chemical smelling, it can send the wrong signal to the buyers and agents. If you cook loud (smelly) foods, consider baking cookies or bread to cover the smell.
Before a home tour:
- Remove or secure valuables.
- Turn on all lights.
- Stage the dining table.
- Open blinds and curtains
- Prepare the fireplace and firepits for lighting (do not light, though).
- Clear counters in the kitchen and bathrooms.
- Clean and wipe out sinks.
- Empty dishwasher.
- Lower all toilet seats.
- Remove toiletries from showers.
- Place dirty clothes in the washer or laundry bins.
- Empty trashcans.
- Play quiet music.
- If you have pets, store their food, and clean up their poo.
- Most important, leave. Give the buyer space to explore their potential new home on their own.
Can open house home tours bring offers?
Yes. Anything you can do to add marketing to your listing will help bring buyers and offers.
Researchers find that brokers’ effort to market the house positively impacts price. This means the more pictures, the more public open houses, the more broker open houses (when it is just other agents), and virtual tours, then the more likely the house is to sell at or above the list price. (Allen, et.al., 2015).
Read the article here: Allen, Cadena, Rutherford, & Rutherford
How to increase the number of home tours:
- Post as many beautiful pictures of your house as possible. The MLS limits the number of photos to 36. This is the minimum number of excellent photos you need.
- Price competitively. We have a whole page dedicated to what matters when pricing a home.
- Plan to bring your house to the market on Thursday. This is when buyers seriously consider which homes to tour during the weekend.
- Open houses bring buyers. Whether for the general public or Realtors alone, the more people through the door, the more likely you will have an offer. Consider some tactics we outline below to bring more buyers into your open house.
- When getting quality photos, invest in the virtual tour option too. Only some photographers offer this. Research says it is worth the investment to increase home tours.
- Prepare a quality description. Buyers are most influenced when the words provide more information than the photos. Using positive words in a listing description also brings more home tours.
- Consider a website dedicated to your home with even more photos and videos. We can do that on our website (coming soon) and will heavily promote your home through multiple channels.
How to Use Cialdini’s Persuasion Techniques to Sell Your House
Introducing Cialdini’s Influence Principles
For those who have not heard of Cialdini before, he is best known for his 1984 book: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. He spent three years ‘undercover’ in various sales environments, watching how people are persuaded. He categorized these influences in six major techniques: reciprocity, social proof, authority, liking, scarcity, and commitment and consistency. In 2016, he added a seventh influence, unity. It one may be the most powerful of all.
Here’s a quick review of the influence principles.
- Reciprocation: When given a gift, people want to give back.
- Commitment and Consistency: People want to be consistent in how they act. They will act as they have in the past.
- Social Proof: Even if they do not follow the crowd, people watch what others do. This is especially so in new situations.
- Liking: People are more likely to accept offers from people they like or who they believe like them.
- Authority: People follow commands from authority and those with credentials.
- Scarcity: The less available something is, the more people want it.
- Unity: People are more influenced by those they identify as like themselves.
Many of these techniques may be included in more than one category. Let’s take a look on how to use these research-backed techniques to get more home tours.
How to use reciprocity during home tours and the negotiation process.
We feel positively toward someone when we receive a gift from them. For many of my friends, gift-giving is their love language. Here are some ‘gifts’ a seller can provide to a buyer that will help negotiate.
- Inspection report – We’ve mentioned the benefit of not being surprised after inspections before. However, giving a copy to the buyer is a gift too. This is a buyer’s expense the buyer can save.
- Snacks and water – Buyers remember which houses offered snacks during home tours. Especially if we are seeing homes with young ones in tow. Agents also feel more positive too. 😉 Bonus if the cookies are still warm and the kitchen smells like sugar.
- Disclosures and a home book – this is a notebook many Tallahassee Realtors will leave on the kitchen counter. It will have a copy of the sellers’ disclosures and any other pertinent information buyers want to read.
Consistency and commitment will work in your favor during home tours and negotiations.
If you ask for a small favor and they complete it; they are more likely to comply with a future request. People will behave as they have before, which helps set the stage for negotiating later. Here’s how to use this during home tours:
- Request buyers to remove their shoes at the door. (Provide footies.) This also gives the impression that seller cares about cleanliness and takes care of maintenance too.
- Ask buyers for their feedback. Make it easy by providing forms and pens. (Placing them near the snacks also helps.) The feedback helps the seller adjust what they can for the next buyer.
The social proof technique and how to get people to tour your home.
We always want to know what the crowd is doing, even if we don’t follow along. We have always had more luck with open houses than the typical agent. They say 1% of homes sell at the open house. What we do to increase that number is part authority and party social proof.
- Before an open house, ask your friends, neighbors, and family to help you. Have them come and tour your home during open houses. Ask them to please fill out the feedback forms. Others will follow their example. Some buyers are hesitant to expose themselves to salespeople. So, when they arrive at the house and see several cars, they feel more comfortable hiding in a crowd.
- Put up signs in the neighborhood. If allowed, we will go door to door and invite all your neighbors personally. When invited to help choose their new neighbor, they are often willing to share information on social media and visit the home themselves.
- Share the marketing on social media and ask your friends to do the same.
The concept of Liking during home tours and negotiations.
When buyers tour homes, they look around the house and decide who the seller is. The challenge here is to connect with a buyer’s lifestyle but not discourage anyone from making an offer. Not distracting from the home tour is also a priority. Something that makes the buyer say, “These sellers are just like us. If they liked it here, we will too.”
- Bestselling books left on shelves help buyers connect. This is usually the first place I look, so we notice when buyers do it too. What a person reads tells you a lot about the person.
- If your neighborhood has parks and outdoor activities, clean up your equipment and display it neatly. Kayaks, bikes, and equipment in the garage catch buyer’s eye.
- Attractiveness is a huge magnet. Aim to have your house clean and staged to be warm and inviting.
- People who are most like themselves. Leave a letter about all the things you love about your house and neighborhood. Tell stories people connect with and will remember.
- People tend to like people that make them laugh. If you have funny sayings, photos, or books, leave them in prominent places.
The influence of authority during home tours.
People defer to experts. Remember the Milgram study where participants agreed to electrocute someone behind a door? They didn’t electrocute anyone, but that is the study they always cite when taking about the influence of authority. You can use authority during home tours by:
- Offering the inspector’s report. He’s licensed and an authority on the condition of houses.
- Providing the home book with all relevant information about your house.
- Have copies of the contractor’s invoices and proposals in your home book.
This one was an easy one last year. There were many more buyers than we had homes to sell, so scarcity quickly drove up prices. Buyers are often more aware of the market than sellers are. Here are some things we saw that influenced buyers to make an offer during home tours:
- Prominently posting a calendar with several showings on it puts pressure on the buyer to make an offer quickly.
- Make sure marketing highlights the unusual and unique aspects of your house.
- Gathering feedback reports (with great feedback) will have the same effect. This is where your friends, family, and neighbors can help.
- Several business cards of the other agents on the counter also make the house look popular. If the house is popular, even in this market, it will not be available for long. This sounds a lot like social proof, doesn’t it?
- Remind buyers what they will lose if they do not make an offer quickly. This works especially well for neighborhoods with low turnover and/or multiple home offers.
Unity is the newest principle. Here’s how it applies to home tours.
The persuasion technique says we will listen to those who belong to our crowd and trust them above others. As a seller, do not advertise a crowd the buyer does not trust. Store away all political signs. Remove religious items. Put away all that Michigan University and Florida University flags. No Buckeye or Seminole wants to see that. 🙂
How Many People Do I Have to Sell it to?
The buyer is only the first sale.
The key to selling your house is showings. We’ve covered what influences the buyer to request a home tour and make an offer. Many of these tactics also work on the others involved in the process. Keep your house in the showing condition until inspections and appraisals have been completed. The buyer’s agent will double-check that the listing price is reasonable. If it is more than 10% higher than the neighborhood average, the chance of a home tour drops dramatically.
The Buyer’s Agent
When the buyer wants to make an offer, they will ask their agent what a fair price is considering the location, condition, and nearby sales. During the home tour, that buyer’s agent also must be convinced that your price is fair. Once when showing a home listed by the owner, he presented a spreadsheet of the previous six sales. The owner used the handout to show how his house was superior to the recently sold houses. We appreciated the handout. We provided the rest of the sales to the buyer, and the buyer decided not to make an offer.
The lender will not care about the house. They are unlikely to tour the home. They would not recognize it if they drove past it on their way home. Do not send them inspection reports. They do not need them. Their concern is that the house is worth what the buyer thinks it is worth. Do make sure that it is, they hire an appraiser. Once they read the report, they will rely on this value to fund the home.
Keep your house in top condition until the appraiser has completed the home tour. If you are on the higher side of the market, provide documentation that shows your home is worth it. Make sure your listing agent is there to provide additional information. For example, provide a list of recent repairs and the contractor’s name. If the contractors are local, the appraiser will recognize the names. Also, show the comparable properties you used to determine your listing price.
Some sellers decide to stay for inspection in case the inspector has trouble finding a needed fixture or has questions. This is not something we recommend. Most of the time, buyers have had little time to spend in the house. They may not even picture it correctly if they saw several homes in one day. Having a chance to imagine themselves in the home gives them more ‘skin in the game.’ We invite them to spend the time measuring walls and picturing themselves living in the space. That is hard to do when the sellers are being helpful nearby.
Provide the inspector with a printout of the seller’s disclosure and a phone number where he can reach you with any questions. They may ask about attic access and the location of the electrical panel. An important note here – make sure there is nothing in front of or below the electric panel. The inspection must take the cover off and needs room to maneuver. The seller is unlikely to receive a report copy unless the buyer terminates or asks for repairs.