Is there any such thing as the ‘perfect viewing’? Maybe not, but there are some things you can do on a viewing to maximise your chances of getting an offer, and some things which can positively sabotage the viewing altogether. (read my post on The Obnoxious Agent and you’ll see what I mean)
So here’s my blueprint for the perfect viewing; as always, adapt it to your own style and personality, and let me know what works for you:
Before the Viewing
As in any sales environment, you need to know as much as you can about your customer and product; in other words, your potential buyer and the property you’re showing them.
The viewer – try to discover:
- Where they are moving from
- Their search criteria
- What they have already seen
- What they like about this particular property
- Their buying position
- Who will be on the viewing
- Who the property is for
The property – you need to know:
- How long it’s been on the market
- The reason for sale
- Any sale history
- Anything pertinent about the owners that’s appropriate and beneficial to share
Don’t forget that in order to successfully and positively show the property, you are yourself on show. Make sure that:
- You are appropriately and professionally dressed
- Your shoes are clean and polished, and if you’re a lady, your heels are of moderate height – not flat but not tottery heels Your hair is clean and neatly styled
- For ladies – jewellery is understated and tasteful
- Again for ladies, winter legs need tights
- You are waiting for your viewers when they arrive, not the other way around, and give yourself time to make sure the property is ready for the viewing; warm, aired, and with no nasty surprises like dog poo or teens still in bed.
During the Viewing
Before I get into the nitty gritty of the viewing itself, let me take a moment to explain how male and female buyers experience viewings differently. Of course, these are generalisations, drawn from hundreds of interviews and conversations with buyers, so try to approach every new viewing appointment with fresh eyes and an open mind.
Firstly, men. Guys tend to look at the practical aspects of a property, though through an aspirational filter. So they will consider a double garage better than a single, extra floor space as a bonus, and an attractive façade as a definite selling point. They are also keen to maximise their financial investment, so any potential future development will be viewed as a positive, and energy- and cost-savings, such as double glazing or a new boiler will also be big pluses. Men often love toys, so any gadgets will go down well: built-in sound system, power shower, electronic gates or garage door: watch his eyes light up when he sees them. Do let him have a play if it’s appropriate; you’ll get a stronger buy-in that way, as the endowment effect means we ‘take ownership’ of items we use or try out.
Now the ladies. We are of course interested in all the above, but to a much lesser extent. You see, there’s one important factor for us that men tend not to notice as keenly: we want to know how the house feels. If we can’t imagine ourselves standing in that kitchen, relaxing in that living room, or lounging in that bath, then there’s no way we can be persuaded it’s the home for us. It’s an instinctive impulse that causes us to choose one new home over another, and often difficult to explain. It’s a thousand tiny clues that separately are very trivial, but put together, and the overall impression is a definite no, or a definite yes. There’s very little you, as the agent, can do to persuade a lady that this is the house for her; you just need to make sure she has the space and time to determine this for herself.
The nitty gritty
Whilst everyone has their own favoured way of conducting a viewing, this is the way that works for me and my clients, so if it differs from your method, maybe try this and see how it works for you:
1. Start in the best room downstairs – research indicates that buyers make up their minds positively or negatively, in the first 14 seconds of a viewing. If you’re still showing them the hallway, it better be the best hallway they’ve ever seen.
2. Take the lead – make sure that you lead your viewers round the property in the order you feel shows it at its best.
3. Give them space and time to look around properly. If they have experienced a strong positive reaction to the property, they will subconsciously be looking for more clues that this is the right home for them. Called confirmation bias, it’s an important process your buyer need to go through in order to justify their decision to make an offer. If you rush them, or talk too much, they won’t have the mind-space they need to complete this process.
4. View the garden before the upstairs – if it’s a two-storey property, take your viewers into the garden before you show them the upstairs rooms. This avoids the ‘Garden Close’ (read my post on this subject here)
5. Show the bedrooms in reverse order – this makes the smallest bedroom feel bigger than it is. When we measure rooms with our eyes, we do it comparatively, so showing the master bedroom last will make it seem larger, by comparison to the smaller bedrooms. Showing the master first will make the smallest bedroom feel tiny.
6. Finish the viewing in the best room downstairs – make sure you’re back in the best room downstairs, where you started. The objective here is to persuade your viewers to look around again at their own pace. If they decline, you know they probably aren’t interested; if they agree and look pleased, there’s a chance they will make an offer.
7. Ask them what they think – look for positive responses, and if you feel it’s appropriate, ask if they would like to make an offer. Their reply at this point will help you determine whether they are really interested or not.
8. Agree when and how to follow up – my preferred tactic here is to ask them “Have you made a decision yet?” and if, like most people, they reply that they haven’t, I would go on to determine when they may have made a decision by, eg in a couple of days, or perhaps a week. Maybe they have other properties they want to view, or they need to consult with a mortgage adviser. Once you have their agreement to decide by a particular day, then arrange to call them on that day at a time best for them, for their decision. In this way, your viewers won’t just disappear, leaving you with nothing to tell your vendors; they will be expecting to give you a decision by the date and time agreed. This method really does work, as it filters the time-wasters from the serious buyers, leaving you to focus your attention on the right people.
After the Viewing
Call your viewer at the day and time agreed, for their decision. If it’s negative, and they don’t want to make an offer, then use the time on the call to gather any constructive information you can for your sellers.
If you’ve ever viewed a property through Foxtons, you’ll know that when they call you for feedback, they always have another suggestion of a property to view in case you have decided the first house wasn’t for you. They really maximise every single opportunity. So if the answer when you call your viewers is ‘no’, then try to have another property for them to view as soon as possible.
Your objective is to keep the communication fresh and positive, so these potential buyers are happy to receive emails and calls from you, as there’s always something in it for them when you get in touch.
If you can make the relationship a positive one for the viewers, they could become vendors or clients of yours in some other way, in the future. Also, the likelihood of them recommending you to friends, family and neighbours is much higher, as their loyalty to you will increase with each phone call and email.
So keep in touch, keep positive and friendly, don’t ask for the sale – do ask how you can help them. Be the most useful person they know in their lives and you will have made a client for life, whether they buy a house from you or not.
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What to watch next: How To Conduct The Perfect Viewing – (Marketing for Estate Agents)