Austin TX Real Estate - Hill Country Austin Lakeway Homes for Sale: Showing Houses more Efficiently

Showing Houses more Efficiently

How do you show houses?  How do your clients look at houses?

Here's what I do...

On the first time out, I allow the buyers to kinda do whatever they want to help them feel comfortable in someone elses house. Many are shy about turning on lights and opening up doors and cabinets, so I have to do that for them. 

Before we walk into the very first house, I say, "This is not my house, I do not own this house.  You will not offend me if you do not like this house.  As soon as you know you don't like it, we need to turn around and leave so we don't bog down your brain with too much information about houses you don't like."

Great, Donna!  Thanks so much for letting us know we have your permission to walk out of a house!

Does this happen? Very rare, on a first time out.  It always seems that buyers like to spend more time in houses they don't like, picking out all the negatives, rather than in houses they do like picturing where their furniture will go and how they'll repaint this and that.

On the second time out, I remind them that we wasted a lot of time looking at houses they didn't like and we were going to very seriously leave houses as soon as we know we don't like them.  I also put in another stipulation if I can.  When people are looking for backyard features, I tell them we will go to the backyard first, and if they don't like the yard, we will leave.  This helps A LOT!

If someone is talking over and over again about how they plan on "living" in their living room and spend most of their time downstairs, if they don't like the downstairs, we are not going upstairs.  This helps a little.

What things do you do to help move people along while looking at houses?  As a buyer, what helped you leave a house you didn't like rather than pointing out everything you hated and wasting time there when you could be moving on to the next house?

Remember, I work all of North Dallas County and Collin County including Richardson, Plano, Allen, Frisco, Carrollton, Garland, Rowlett, McKinney, etc... my car will take us anywhere you need to go!! 



Comment balloon 24 commentsDonna Harris • August 20 2007 12:48PM


I love it when my clients don't waste my time or theirs looking at every detail of a house they know they don't like.  I have had plenty of clients who KNOW they don't like the house but still waste 15-20 minutes looking at every little detail (windows, heating, trim, etc..). 

My new rule is look quick first time out and pick the top 3 to re-visit for longer periods of time.


Posted by Susan Raposa (South Dakota Real Estate Company) about 13 years ago
It does get a little embarassing though when as soon as they see the first room they walk back out when the homeowner is home.
Posted by Hugh Krone, Realtor, Sussex County NJ (Weichert Referral Associates) about 13 years ago

Susan, I completely understand... I don't like this and that and this and that... ok ok, let's leave... But I want to see upstairs!  Or, but I want to see the yard... If you don't like it, you don't like it!  Let's move on.

Hugh, When they're home, sometimes I'll tell them we just need to walk through the downstairs for a minute just so we don't anger them.  I also tell them not to engage the seller in coversation or we'll be there forever.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - about 13 years ago
I do things very similar.  I have had clients take 4 steps inside and turn around to leave.  Then off to the next one we go.
Posted by David Slavin, CDPE, ABR, SRES Keller Williams Premier (Keller Williams Premier) about 13 years ago
Try to give you the most efficient route when showing multiple homes. Not even mapquest or google can do that!
Posted by FRANK LL0SA Esq.- Northern Virginia Broker .:. (Northern Virginia Homes - FRANKLY REAL ESTATE Inc) about 13 years ago

David, That's what I'm aiming for, but buyers just won't do it.  Even when I say, "ok, let's go", they continue to want to point out the negatives.  I'll even stand at the front door to try to get them to follow.

Frank, I'm sorry, no offense, but did you read my blog?  This has nothing to do with mapping out houses.  I'm very capable of getting from house to house, thank you.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - about 13 years ago
I had one client with a notebook writing down every little thing about every house we looked at...even the  ones that they said from the minute we walked in the door that they hated it. UGHHH
Posted by Pam Hofmann, Your Crossville, Lake Tansi & Fairfield Glade Specialist (Third Tennessee Realty & Associates, LLC) about 13 years ago
I agree with you that some clients spend more time in homes they aren't going to buy which seems odd to me and I try to get us out of there quickly.  I was out with clients once and as we drove up to the house they said they wouldn't live there because it sided to a busy road but they still wanted to look at it.   I told them I wasn't stopping the car and wasting all our time.  On to the next one......
Posted by Linda Box Taylor, Your Plano, TX Realtor (Castle Connections Realty) about 13 years ago

Pam, So frustrating, huh!?

Linda, I've tried driving off like that many times.  I'm successful about 50% of the time.  Most of the time they say since we're there with an appt, we might as well look at it.  I still try to drive away as they're opening their doors.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - about 13 years ago


I agree,

I have even had clients walk away as soon as I open the front door because they cannot stand the smell of the cigarette smoke.


Posted by Sue Riley, GRI (RE/MAX Four Corners) about 13 years ago
You are not only doing your clients a great service by streamlining the showing process, but saving yourself time and energy as well.  Great post.
Posted by Adam Brett, The Adam and Eric Group, Fullerton's Finest (The Adam and Eric Group) about 13 years ago
Those are some really great tips, and I can tell from a super pro agent.  It does seem like you need to inform your clients about what they need to do otherwise everyone would be looking for a house for a long time, never deciding.  Keep up the great posts.
Posted by Stephen Joos & Chris Brubaker- HouseFront (HouseFront) about 13 years ago

Sue, Interestingly enough, I've turned around and walked right back outside in smokey situations, but my clients will continue to walk in.  I'll follow holding my nose and breathing deeply (I get migraines and can't be around cigarette smoke).  Nothing seems to turn my buyers off except messy houses or tacky furniture.  So frustrating...

Adam, I'm "trying" to help streamline, but it doesn't quite work, which is why I was asking for help from others.

House Front, even with narrowing houses on the internet based on pictures, people still want to see 25-50 houses to make sure they're not missing something... they'll look at look if they could.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - about 13 years ago

I like your approach and especially what you tell them to begin with,

This is not my house, I do not own this house.  You will not offend me if you do not like this house.  As soon as you know you don't like it, we need to turn around and leave so we don't bog down your brain with too much information about houses you don't like."

There a just some buyers you need to indulge in every case. Why they choose to want to linger in a home they may not like I can't explain other than feeling good about knowing what they don't like. I can appreciate the fact that once you make an appointment for a showing to at least step inside would be the right thing to do.

And truly, give the listing agent some feedback as to why or why not the client didn't like the house.  It can mean a lot to the agent and the seller to have that valuable feedback even if it doesn't result in a sale with your buyer.

Posted by Karen Otto, Plano Home Staging, Dallas Home Staging, (Home Star Staging) about 13 years ago

Some great ideas.  I also give my buyers a couple of rules.  One of which is that we never insult a house/decorations/etc., when a home owner is home. 

I also tell my buyers that if we have an appointment (unless the home is vacant) we need to go inside.  Sometimes this is a waste of time - but I don't want to insult the sellers.

Posted by James Downing - Metro DC Houses Team REALTORS®, CRS, GRI, ABR,MRP, MilRes, When Looking to Buy or Sell - Make the Right Move (Real Living | At Home) about 13 years ago
I had a coule walk into a house and for about two minutes just stood there . I asked what the matter was and they hesitated to say anything so I told them that they could tell me how they felt because it wasnt my house. they said they didnt like it as soon as they stepped through the front door . I said thats okay lets leave and go to the next no need to waste our time.
Posted by Vicki Bishop GRI - Alabama Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors®) about 13 years ago

For the most part, I just open the door and let my Client's walk in and check out the house by themselves...I'll walk through at my own pace so that I am familiar with the home and then I'll ask them if they would like to buy this property. I always solicit their feedback so that I can in turn pass that on to the Listing Agent. It also helps me better understand what my Client's like and dislike...that in itself has a mysterious way of changing as they see more homes.


RE/MAX Olympic, Manassas VA 


Posted by Keith Elliott Jr, Principal Broker/Owner (KEIRE Realty Group) about 13 years ago

DONNA great post - our system briefly is as follows: after an exclusive buyer agency is signed we blast our clients email with lots of listings that match their 1st set of criteria & mortgage prequal amounts. We explain to them the process we use to save them time, energy and frustration.....

we then go over with them "on paper" more thoroughly each listing to sort in a yes, no or maybe pile - looking at disclosed conditions i.e.age & number of layers of roof (especially if they do not want to fix anything soon) property listing & sales history and neighborhood cma values and room sizes ( esp.if they have huge furniture for example that they are unwilling to compromise about).  or wont look at any small yards etc...this whittles down alot!

we then have them drive Thur the neighborhoods and pick their top 5 for the first appointment ( show them any more than this the first time out and the homes may all start to blur.

We take a blank purchase offer with us and many times have written them at the kitchen table of one of the top 5 we show them!

Posted by Jeff&Grace Safrin, SpousesSellingHousesTM (F.C.Tucker 1st Team Real Estate) about 13 years ago
Donna, after the first day of showing houses, I usually ask my buyers to do a drive by of other houses on their list before we schedule an appointment, since pictures can be deceiving or sometimes the house looks great but they don't like the street or specific area it's located in. Of course I have them under buyer agencey before I tell them to do a drive by. I've found this does save alot of time, but they don't always do it.
Posted by Mike Mitchell, REALTOR (R) (Real Living Kee Realty) about 13 years ago
Donna...I also tell my clients before we even get out of the car, that if we pull up to a house that they don't like just based on the outside or the neighborhood, that we don't have to go in! This has helped save me time before. Then I just call CSS and cancel the appt and we go on our merry way!
Posted by Kim Dean, Simply Texas Real Estate - Broker/Owner ( about 13 years ago
Donna - I like the approach with one caveat.  If the homeowners are in the home, I believe that the buyers should at least take the brief tour through the home.  Often times, these people have waited around just for this one appointment, and it would be very insulting to them if someone just looked at the backyard and said no without even seeing the home.  The other thing is that sometimes a buyer will fall in love with one aspect of the home and try to figure out a way to work around the part that they don't like.  That being said, there is nothing more annoying than sitting around a home having buyers point out the flaws when they have no interest in the home.  Let's just get to the next home.  Good post.
Posted by Adam Waldman, Realtor - Long Island (Westcott Group Real Estate Company) about 13 years ago

Karen, I try to give feedback for all my showings.  My voicemail message even tells agents not to leave a message asking for feedback but to check the CSS website for their feedback.  It's amazing how many agents still leave me messages.

James, yes, when the owner is home, I tell them not to speak too loudly and if they like the house, do NOT let the home owners know or it might hinder our negotiations.

Vicki, I wish that happened more often.  So many people are afraid they don't like something.  They don't want to offend anyone.

Keith, I'm glad that method works for you.  It doesn't work for me or the buyers would never see rooms with lights on or what size the closets are as most people don't actually like opening doors of other people's houses and for some reason, they never turn on light switches, so I walk with them.

Jeff, great process.  It would never work in my market... it used, but not with over 48,000 properties on the market.  Buyers want to see everything... but I do make them drive neighborhoods first in order to narrow things down so we don't have any "drive by" showings.

Mike, I completly agree with having them do drive bys instead of scheduling appts with so many properties only to hate the neighborhoods of half of them.

Kim, I don't usually call CSS to cancel because I consider it a drive by showing.  I'll still put feedback in CSS saying the buyer didn't like the drive up appeal or the neighbors and that helps them just as much as actually walking into their house.

Adam, I agree that many times the buyers will compromise, but not if it's the main thing they're looking for.  If they are looking for a backyard for their 4 kids and that's the most important thing, they're not going to compromise on a zero-lot home because they like the floorplan.  When they're home, I do tell the buyers to try to walk thru, but fast.  I feel bad looking so fast, but even I must abide by my own rule of leaving when we don't like it.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - about 13 years ago
Many of these occurrences are fairly common.  I try to 'train' my clients...if its not the house, lets go.  Why waste my clients time or my time??
Posted by Kaushik Sirkar (Call Realty, Inc.) about 13 years ago
Donna, I love your sugguestions. From now on I'm telling buyers "This is not my house, I do not own this house.  You will not offend me if you do not like this house.  As soon as you know you don't like it, we need to turn around and leave so we don't bog down your brain with too much information about houses you don't like."
Posted by Annette Thompson, College Station Real Estate (Texas Real Estate Services) about 13 years ago