There was a great response to this article (always a pleasure for authors), which included comments from real estate agents, buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants alike.
Some commented on the need for separate theft insurance cover at open home inspections (and who should pay for it), some on the security issue, and others about the need for transparency by all concerned,
But having distilled the excellent feedback from the article (like enjoying an aromatic cup of tea and then musing about what is left over), the crux of the debate inevitably came back to the old question of, “What is the best method of showing your home?”
Personally I was trying to avoid a hot potato debate on this subject for the simple reasons that it is never-ending and I am supposed to be doing better things.
Here is my personal opinion. If I was selling my own home today there are some rational arguments that make the decision clear to me:
- Why would I invite multiple strangers into my home if there is a risk of theft involved?
- Why allow myself and my family to feel that our privacy has been invaded?
- As the seller I prefer to show my property at times that suit me and not my real estate agent.
- My mother-in-law, bless her soul, (who I agree is an expert on multifarious issues and does read my weekly column) pointed out the deal-breaker.
She argues that only about two out of 10 viewers who show up at open inspections are genuine buyers. The rest are either neighbours or tyre-kickers whose favourite hobby at the weekend is viewing other people’s properties. This is bad news for the seller and for agents, as they are time-wasters. On the other hand the ratio for private inspections is much more in the seller’s favour, given all are genuine.
It’s hard to argue with that kind of logic.
I spent many years as an agent opening hundreds of homes for property sellers. It worked for me at the time, but maybe times have changed and I have become wiser.
And real estate agents argue that they need to “get maximum exposure and as many prospective buyers through the property as possible” at open inspections.
But the reality for agents is that controlling 10 or 20 groups at an open inspection is like herding cats. And that is not to mention the nightmare of trying to follow up on them all to find out who is a genuine buyer or not.
One of my favourite books is Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. There is a passage in it that I loosely quote: “When I was 14 I thought my father was an ignorant fool. But when I reached the age of 21 I couldn’t believe how much he had learned in seven years.”
Enjoy your cuppa and think on the above points when you read those tea-leaves!
Tim Mansfield is founder and principal of Sydney-based buyers' agency PrimePropertyBuyer.