Dear Monty: Four tips to reduce home seller anxiety
By Richard Montgomery
Reader Question: We have a contract on our home pending only an appraisal. Our closing date is two weeks away. The buyer asked for an inspection of the property. We also granted his request for an engineering inspection. Both of these inspections were satisfactory. He has had an hour-long, scheduled tour of the house. Then, he asked if he could have a contractor come to inspect the roof and exterior of the home. We complied with this request. Last week, he again asked to return and stayed inside the house for an hour and a half. We were required, of course, to have the house “show ready” and vacate until his departure. He has asked to come again tomorrow and, again, I agreed. I have spent the better part of today preparing for his visit. We are trying to be agreeable, but it is a huge inconvenience for us when we are no longer showing the house. We talked to our agent about this, but he implies that we are being difficult and minimizes our concerns. He assures me this is not unusual and says the buyer may even want to return again next week. I feel that not only is it unusual, but that he is overly accommodating to the customer. Opinion?
Monty’s Answer: This is a question for which there is not a “right” or a “wrong” answer. There is much that you have experienced here of which I have no knowledge. Is the buyer working through the same agent as you? How long has your home been on the market? The size, complexity, and condition of the home or what plan the buyers have for updating or renovation may be driving the visits.
So with these caveats, the business of buying or selling a home can sometimes experience extremes. Regarding viewing the home, there are homebuyers that have purchased homes without physically seeing them. There are homebuyers that have made a dozen or more trips to the home they are buying. Both of these examples are a bit unusual, but we all have different circumstances, ideas, and protocols. You are not difficult as you have yet to decline a request.
Four tips to reduce anxiety
- Except for the roof inspection, your question does not reveal if you know the reasons for the buyer’s visits. It is legitimate to ask why he keeps coming back. If you know the reasons and they are logical, it should provide relief. As you are asked to leave, and you are not aware of the reasons, discovering them may help. Is his agent along with him? Have you asked your agent? Perhaps he is seeking bids from different contractors, such as a flooring company or painter.
- The idea that you need to be in “show ready” condition may be necessary if the selling agent has knowledge of the buyer’s circumstances that are driving the “show ready” request. For example, he may be allergic to animal hair and you may have animals. You may want to condition future showings on “what you see is what you get,” so he will not be surprised to see that you lead a normal life. Again, there may be some risk to this, but there may be no danger at all.
- Another way to look at his inspections is that it is very different showing your home to someone who has entered a contract to purchase it, than a showing with someone for the first time. To come back again, and again, suggests he is very interested. You state that you have to be away.
- Here is a different perspective about the amount of time he is spending in the house. In many areas of the U.S., it is a bit unusual to have a structural inspection unless you are in a place with known geological abnormalities, such as earthquakes, mudslides or riverbanks. What was the reason for the engineer’s review? Perhaps he is having a difficult time deciding if he wants to go through with the purchase?
- Removing the financing contingency could overcome the frustration of the frequent extended visits when you know there are no remaining obstacles. Halting the visits until the loan is approved may cause the buyer to bring some pressure on the lender.
Two weeks will go by very quickly. Consider all the possibilities, weigh the pros and cons, and decide which course of action you want to take.
“Richard Montgomery gives no nonsense real estate advice to readers most pressing questions. He is a real estate industry veteran who has championed industry reform for over a quarter century. Send him questions at DearMonty.com.”