Lost a sale because of fussy wife?

SouthEastOhioMarch 27, 2012

Our house is up for sale through a real estate agent. Today we had a call from an agent who wanted to show our house to a client in about 20 minutes. My wife said "no" to the agent.

Why? Because I was napping at the time and she said our house was not ready to show. We had some dirty dishes in the sink and some clutter including papers, magazines, etc on desks and tables. In addition we had some bags of mulch in our garden which had not been opened.

The house was clean. Just yesterday we vacuumed and dusted.

I told her we may have lost a sale because she wants our house to be absolutely perfect when people see it.

Could I get some feedback on this? Thanks.

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It is I guess a balancing act. When we were selling I did try to avoid turning down a sale. There was always that chance that the person who wanted to see on short notice/at a bad time if I turned them down might not reschedule (most do) and had they seen the house would have bought it (most who see it don't buy it). So, you have to imagine someone who was not interested enough in your house to try a different time if you couldn't accommodate on 20 minutes notice, but was also interested that they would have bought had they seen the house. That seems....unlikely.

When we were sellers we asked to schedule a few appointments at different time and usually the buyers would reschedule. I think, maybe, one did not. On the other hand, as a buyer several times I had sellers say that X time wasn't good and we had to schedule a different time. In general, if I was seriously interested in the house I did it. The one house I didn't reschedule was one that was actually pretty far down the list of possibles.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 7:07PM
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My rule was never turn down a showing....throw the stuff in the washer/dryer, stuff things in the car to take with her, dishes in DW or something....it is amazing what I could so in 20 minutes notice! In my case, some were only here for the day and they wanted to see all they could...and the one they wanted could have been mine~~

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 7:22PM
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As a prospective buyer, if the advance information available to me looked good, I'd have asked the Realtor to do a drive-by just to see the exterior and lot, which would then move the house into either the 'don't bother' or 'let's definitely reschedule' camp.

I wouldn't give up on a house that seemed promising because it couldn't be shown at my first convenience. In fact, our first house, I had to wait 10 days to see because they had out-of-town relatives staying with them. But I loved the exterior and the street, and the Realtor, who knew exactly what we were looking for said "You're going to love this house!" And we did...

Of course, on the other side, we once showed our 'not pristine' house completely unannounced to a couple out for their evening walk with their young kids (same ages as ours). Apparently, they were able to easily overlook a few dirty dishes and dropped towels since they made an offer through their Realtor two days later.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 7:33PM
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Boy, I can see both sides of this one. We had down '24 hour notice'--but I always tried to accommodate ANYone, even on short notice. But 20 minutes? I'd have had a hard time with that, too--we have cats so that means a couple of litter pans to clean, and a lot of cat fur to pick up (even if the house was vaccuumed yesterday--LOL)

If I could make a few suggestions that helped me better able to accept those last minute requests? When our house was on the market, I NEVER left any dishes in the sink, nor clutter around the house. Everytime I walked through a room, whether or not we had a showing scheduled, I tried to look at it through the eyes of a potential buyer, and pick up, or straighten as I went. If you approach every morning as though you have 'lookers' coming in an hour, the house will always be ready to show, and you (or your wife) won't feel the need to turn down an appt. It's so important, in this market, to accept EVERY request.

In all honesty? one of our shorter-notice requests WAS the one that sold our home. And it was the ONLY showing, that I didn't have time to bake for--but they were the folks who fell in love with the house for its own sake. So do try, whenever possible, to let those buyers in!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 7:42PM
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A lot of buyers are in town once to find a home. (They probably came in town once or twice prior to look at areas and subdivisions)These type of buyers probably will not come back... their time is too short and the inventory is too high.
You can do a lot of dishes and sprucing up in 20 minutes. Your wife needs to understand that, if in your market the absorption rate is, say, 6 months, (the rate that a good buyer comes around), then you may have just tacked on another 6 months to your marketing time.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 7:46PM
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One more thing... when this happens when I have buyers in the car, most of the time they say something to the effect that "well, they must not be serious buyers anyhow". Not the picture you want to be painting to your potential buyers.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 7:48PM
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On one hand, your house should be ready to show at all times. On the other hand, you have a life, and things cannot be expected to always be perfect. Any buyer expecting absolute perfection with only a 20 minute notice is being very unrealistic. From what you described, the house didn't sound that terrible, and like others suggested, there are ways to quickly hide clutter and dirty dishes. You could have also told them to spend some time outside looking around the yard and the exterior of the house to allow yourself a little more time to spruce things up.

I wouldn't be too hard on your wife - saying she just lost a sale may be exaggerating a bit. If the buyers are serious about your house, and they are adult enough to not hold a grudge just because you couldn't accomodate them in 20 minutes - then they will be back. If they are going to let a little thing like that eliminate your house from their list, then you don't need them anyway. And another thing - how would you have felt if you busted your butt getting things ready, and then they never showed up? We had a similar thing happen to us - except we had 4 hours notice - and then they stood us up.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 8:24PM
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We've been looking at a whole lot of houses recently. We'd never try to get a showing with only 20 minutes' notice. That seems ridiculous. We usually try to give our agent 2-3 DAYS notice if we can (we send a list for the weekend on Wednesday night or Thursday morning). There have been a few times we've asked to get a showing the same day, but when we do it like that we're flexible on the timing, and we do understand if it can't work for some reason.

That said, we've found it pretty frustrating how often sellers turn down a showing, even with plenty of notice. There have been several houses we've decided to not even bother seeing after trying two or three times and being told "not now." They're having a party. They have out of town guests. A family reunion. The baby is sick. Etc., etc., etc. How persistent we are depends on how promising the house looks online (and maybe in a drive by, though we know the neighborhoods we're looking in well enough at this point to not generally need a drive by). There have been some we've only tried once on, and a few we've kept trying until it works. But it really blows my mind that people will turn down the opportunity to show their house to a ready and qualified buyer just because it's a little bit inconvenient to them. Is it worse to pay your mortgage and maintenance costs for another three months, or to postpone your Pampered Chef party?

It also usually surprises me when we see a house where the people apparently made no attempt to make it presentable (dirty dishes, unmade beds, filthy toilets, etc.). But I'd rather see a somewhat cluttered house than not be able to see it at all because you don't have time to clean. (Note I say somewhat cluttered. If the place is truly filthy, as in stained carpets, dirty walls, etc. I probably don't want to buy it anyway, and no amount of cleaning is going to fix that. Dirty dishes in the sink are a normal part of life. Big brown stains on the carpet are not.)

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 8:29PM
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I wouldn't say that you lost a sale, but I would take this experience as a lesson in keeping the house show ready at all times. I know it stinks - I have three kids, two hamsters, and a dog to pick up after.

I vacuum and sweep every morning, and then I have a detailed cleaning list for each day so that I can be sure we'll be ready when we get a call. So far it's happened twice that we've had less than an hour notice, and I've had to load up all the kids and the dog and clear out. It makes it a lot less stressful to know that the house is ready on a moment's notice. :)

Good luck! We've only been on the market for three weeks and I'm already tired of the constant cleaning.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 9:21PM
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We sold the house even with my son and wife having just moved in with all their stuff, emergency, due to the fact they just sold their home in the city and had to stay with us for a month. Besides that down to one cat and rural area, the gal was so nice. She was very understanding. In fact due to problems in her life, it was amazing we connected so well. 45 days later we moved 1500 miles.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 9:56PM
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We have been going thru this as well. Our motto was to never decline a showing but life happens and if I recall correctly I think I turned down 2 showing from Aug '11 to Mar '12. I felt kinda bad at first but quickly got over it. You do your best to keep it show ready but the fact is at some point we all have busy lives and at times our house wasn't show ready and we just lived with it. All you can do is your best and keep it moving! :)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 6:36AM
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In 20 minutes, one person could put away the dirty dishes and the other could have picked up the papers and magazines. The bags of mulch tell the potential buyers that you maintain the yard. Or you could have countered by asking them to hold off for 45 minutes.

I would not have liked it, but I would have let them view the house.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 9:09AM
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The bottom line is "you'll never know." They might have been locals who will reschedule. They might have just been relocating and only in town for a day or 2 looking at houses.

so...... if you are interesting in selling quickly and know that your wife is kinda picky, you might just have to clean up the dishes before you take a nap next time. :)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 9:16AM
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As have been said in previous posts...If they were serious about seeing the house they would have rescheduled. Relocating with just a short time frame to look, maybe.
Lesson learned-don't take your nap til the clean up is done and your house is in presentable condition.
You were just as responsible about the potential loss of sale as your wife. I think the comment you made to your wife was rather mean. NancyLouise

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 10:23AM
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If you do not need to actually sell this is one way to accomplish that.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 10:45AM
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Yes, it is exaggerating, you lost one showing that day. You don't know if you lost a sale. Even if they saw the house, it is a long way from showing to closing the transaction, anything could happen in between.

Here is another lesson learned for your wife - to wake you up so that you could answer calls from realtors and help clean up the house.....

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 10:50AM
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Who knows if you lost a sale really...

I disagree that if they wre serious they would come back... when I was looking there were the houses my wife and I really wanted to see, and those that our RE thinks we should see. if we really wanted to see it, yes we would make an effort to come back. if this was one the RE is suggesting for us and its more of a possible solution then we won't come back.

you might say we're not serious about that house then... but how many people know its the perfect house by the online profile? you have to get them in the house to sell it.

Either or, I wouldn't turn down future showings like that. 20 min notice sucks, we never gave that, but we did recieve it when selling ours. We did the best we could and didn't stress too much. we kept the house neatly most of the time. I'd rather have 20 min notice on a crappy showing than have 2 days. if you have 2 days, there is build up, you go out of your way to make it perfect, then if they breeze through in 10 minutes you feel such a letdown.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 1:34PM
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You can always try to negotiate for a little more time. They say 20 minutes, you counter with an hour and both settle on 40 minutes.

And as a buyer who is looking right now, it's pretty easy to spot the difference between the genuine accumulated filth of the ages that points to little or no maintenance, and the "Oops, they forgot to put the breakfast dishes in the dishwasher" type of "messy."

I guess I'm in the minority, but a few dirty coffee mugs in the sink, an unmade bed and a few kids' toys in the family room isn't going to make me reject a house that is otherwise a good candidate. I care a lot more about the right location, the right floorplan and a few other things, like is there a porch? fireplace? good natural daylight in most rooms? than if the homeowners are living as though they were permanently starring in an HGTV show.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 3:22PM
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When we were selling our last house I remember there was one showing that happened without any notification. My hubby and I came back from the gym and my sons (who were at home playing video games upstairs, they never seem to answer the door if it rings) told us that there were people walking through the house. Well we just had a showing that morning so the house was in relatively good shape. However, horror of horrors, when I walked into the master bath, there was my underwear in all its glory laying in the middle of the floor. We were probably refered to as "the house with the underwear". (funny the things you remember forever)

I agree with camlan, I would be looking at the floor plan, how old is the carpeting?, any wallpaper to remove? Normal everyday living like coffee cups and newspapers, I probably wouldn't even notice.

I would never turn down a showing, even if I was laying in bed sick. Just make sure you pick up your underwear and its all good.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 11:07AM
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Not to harp on a point I see people on somethreads here and other boards say....

I do think an unmade bed is a big deal, especially in the master. same with laundry left around.

is it a real gripe in teh sense of should it bother you? no

However, my feeling is that it makes people feel like they are intruding. Especially the unmade bed makes people feel like they're in an area they're not supposed to be in, this combined with the shades closed covering windows I find particularly awkward. Whether it be that I interupted something or not, it is teh feeling I got when I saw houses like that.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 2:33PM
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Even if buyers get that feeling, you still want to show them the home. Like others have said, if they like the home, they won't care of the little mess.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 2:53PM
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Well, there is a difference between a little mess and a yuck factor. A misplaced magazine? No biggie. Nobody wants to see dirty underware, smelly cat boxes, etc though.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 2:57PM
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We showed to some walk-up unannounced folks from out of town who would not wait for our realtor to come from another town.

I was down for a nap, my husband asked for a few minutes, they said no, then when I appeared, they asked to see a couple of specific things. We gave them the whole tour, answered a lot of questions, and sent them on their way.

We have no idea if we reinforced their manners or made sure we didn't lose a sale. Our house was not like we have it for showings, but it wasn't too bad; a couple of bowls in the sink and the unmade bed where I was napping...stuff happens.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 3:19PM
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hddana, If you are listed with an agent you should never show your home to a stranger without either your agent or their agent present.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 4:00PM
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Imagine their reaction: they are on my front porch and we tell them, no agent, no entry. Will they be back? They lived a four hour drive away.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 11:00PM
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"If you are listed with an agent you should never show your home to a stranger without either your agent or their agent present."

It's your house! Show it any time you want. Just be sure to let them know the situation.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 9:20AM
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To be honest, the one house that really creeped me out was one that was very, very staged.

Entering the house, there was music playing. Candles were lit in several rooms. The dining table was set for dinner. An open book was on the coffee table. A pan of brownies was cooling in the kitchen. A cup of coffee was sitting on the kitchen table next to a newspaper.

Seriously, it looked as if the family had been abducted by aliens moments before we arrived.

The house was spotless and very nicely staged. But we kept referring to it as the "alien abduction house," because that's what stood out to us.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 11:10AM
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Thanks, Bill. I immediately emailed my realtor who had had 3 contacts with them including the one telling them she would meet them at our home, but it would take a couple of hours.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 11:50AM
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camlan, that is too funny!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 12:04PM
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our first house was viewed while the grandmother was cooking dinner cornbread and greens smelled yummy
our second house was a concrete slab when we bought it
our third house was a spotless delight on a postage stamp we should have looked at the lot longer, the house was great
the fourth house was a visual delight that turned out to be very difficult to keep (even with the home inspection we had to purchase a new septic system within the month-she had it pumped out weekly
the fifth house-we still live there and i still hate parts of it, but the yard was big enough to build a huge shop on in Houston which is rare now we're ready to sell it anybody want an ok house with a great shop??

what you see on the first visit isn't always what you need to be looking for

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 9:10PM
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You probably would have lost me as a bidder ... we had a short list of houses to look at and one day to do the looking.

20 minutes for a quick clean-up of what you describe is definitely plenty of time. Leave the mulch bags, clear the clutter and toss the dishes in the DW as you swipe the counter. 5 minutes MAX with both of you working.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 10:20AM
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There was more to the unannounced lookers. After our realtor told us yesterday her contacts with them over email had elicited a message that they were no longer interested, my DH let it drop that before I came outside and said "come on in," the looker man confessed that he had tried to get into our side gate and the back yard. Amazing. It would have been a shock to my DH who was on his computer on that side of the house to see a man walk by had he gotten in. There are homes in this area where traipsing around a person's home could get you shot. We are unarmed, but probably in the minority.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 7:35PM
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My daughter and son-in-law were out on a bike ride and saw a house with a sale sign. The woman was out in her yard and took them in to see the house. They bought it and are happily living in it now!
Dishes in the sink wouldn't influence me in the slightest if I were looking at a house.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 8:57PM
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"To be honest, the one house that really creeped me out was one that was very, very staged. "

I have turned around and left immediately for houses like this.

The seller is just trying to hard.

Candles and brownies can be used to cover up mold and other noxious smells.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 10:34AM
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If I had a house to sell, I'd be living elsewhere until it sold.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 12:50PM
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"The seller is just trying to hard."

although I fully agree that sometimes the candles and brownies or whatever the seller is doing to "overimpress" could be to hide something....

I will say in todays market, with HGTV and the doomsayers on TV some sellers, me included (when I was selling), are just overachievers or at least trying to be

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 3:39PM
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OKOKOK - What part of Houston? And how big is the shop?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 4:27PM
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We sold our first house on 30 minutes notice at 9 pm--realtor called at 8:30, I was already in nightgown. grabbed cats, dog, litter box, threw in car and drove to end of street in my nightgown. It was the only showing.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2012 at 11:18AM
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