Access Matters When Selling Your Home

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When Selling Your Home, Make Sure Buyers Have Easy Access

This past week, we had a client who wanted to see a home so we contacted the listing agent to schedule an appointment. Her response was, “I’m an out of the area agent. Can they wait until next Thursday?”

Mind you, this is a home that’s been on the market for a while. The agent remarks state that the “sellers are motivated.” So I wonder if they’re aware how difficult it is for buyers to access their home.

Yes, digital photos and videos mean that some buyers make offers before they’ve actually toured a home. But most buyers want to be able to stand in the living room and visualize where they’d place their furniture, look out the windows, and listen to the sounds of the neighborhood.

Along with condition, location, and price, access is one of the factors that combine to determine price. And without easy access, sellers may be costing themselves thousands of dollars by limiting the pool of buyers who will see the home.

Here are several levels of access you could provide:

Lockbox on the door with the ability to go directly — This allows buyers’ agents to simply go to the home whenever they want and use the lockbox. Typically agents use an electronic lockbox so there is a record of who has used it. This may be a convenient level of access for a vacant home but most owner occupants want some notice before people enter their home.

Lockbox on the door with appointment only — This allows buyers’ agents to use the lockbox after they’ve arranged an appointment to do so. An added layer of protection against unscheduled use is to add a “Call Before Showing” code which agents receive after scheduling the appointment.

Providing a key to the home — The buyers’ agent checks out a key at the listing office, typically leaving a copy of their driver’s license and a business card. This is less convenient, particularly if they are showing the buyers multiple homes

By appointment only with no lockbox –– The more notice required, the less convenient this access is for buyers and their agents and some agents will simply eliminate such listings from their showing lineup. With this method, either the listing agent or the seller provides access.

Limited access — This is typically a situation where the home is only available for viewing at very limited times — for example, Saturday mornings or Thursdays between 2 and 4 p.m.  The more severe the restriction on access, the more negative the impact will typically be on pricing.

Subject to inspection — This is typically used for tenant-occupied properties, particularly multi-unit properties. In this situation, buyers must make an offer based solely on information in the listing and what they can see by driving by. Once they’ve submitted the offer, they then have the opportunity to view the property. At that point, if what they see differs greatly from their expectations, they have an opportunity to either modify their offer or back out altogether with no penalty. The lack of access allowed prior to making an offer is uncomfortable for most first-time buyers and as such, it’s best to limit “subject to inspection” access to properties that will appeal to investors.

In competitive markets, access can make or break your ability to get the price you are looking for, or even sell your house at all. If you have any questions about which level of access is best for you and your home, talk to your real estate agent.

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