You might be tempted to require a 24-hour notice before showing your home to prospective home buyers. It's normal to want a little time to make a good first impression. Putting a home on the market is stressful time, and sellers want to do well.
You're opening up your home to complete strangers, who will scrutinize every aspect of your home, perhaps judge you on its cleanliness, decor, and presentation. Many real estate agents say requiring 24-hour notice might cost you a buyer.
Types of Notices for Home Showing
How you make your home available for showing might depend on your local custom. Rural and horse properties typically require more notice than an entry-level suburban home. In some markets on the East Coast, agents give more notice than is expected in certain markets on the West Coast. Some types of notices are:
- Call First or Lockbox: Many real estate agents prefer this method. It means the buyer's agent calls the seller to let the seller know the agent is coming over with a buyer, and no appointment is necessary. Access is gained through a lockbox.
- Vacant with Lockbox: There is no reason to call the listing agent nor the seller. The home is unoccupied. The buyer's agent gains access through a lockbox.
- Appointment with the Seller's Agent: The listing agent or an agent's representative must be present for all showings. Sellers sometimes request this method in hopes the listing agent will point out features the buyer's agent might miss or by believing the listing agent can better "sell" the home than the buyer's agent.
- Appointment with Seller or Tenant: The buyer's agent or the listing agent will make an appointment with the occupant of the home. This could mean an appointment requires one-hour notice or a 5-day notice. Usually, it is whatever is workable between the seller and the buyer.
- 24-Hour Notice to Show: A strictly enforced 24-hour notice must be delivered prior to the showing. If a buyer's agent wants to show at 3 PM on Friday, the agent must call the seller no later than 3 PM on Thursday.
Drawbacks of 24-Hour Notice to Show
Generally, when a home has a high number of days on market (the number of days a listing is active before listed as sale pending), such as 90 days or more, the showing instructions are the culprit. These are the homes that don't sell because they are difficult to show or are perceived as difficult to show.
If they have 10 homes to choose from, and all 10 homes are similar to each other, the homes that require 24-hour notice do not get shown. The 24-hour notice homes may be shown as a last resort after all other showings are exhausted.
Sometimes tenants are required 24-hour notice by law. Agents know that showing a rental home means the tenant might not even be home at the appointment time, and there is little the agent can do to force the issue. For this reason, many agents prefer to sell a rental as a vacant home.
When Is a 24-Hour Notice Acceptable for Home Showing?
There are situations in which a 24-hour notice is acceptable. The problem is agents don't always read showing instructions and might just show up unannounced. Don't blame the listing agent for that mistake. Some reasons a seller might want or need a 24-hour notice are:
- 24-hour notice is a norm: If all homes in your community require a 24-hour notice, you can ask for it without concern.
- Tenant occupied rental: Many leases require a 24-hour notice before showing.
- The owner or tenant has medical problems: The sellers might be ill, disabled, or bedridden and need to make prior arrangements to vacate prior to the showing.
- There may be an undesirable element present: The sellers could be selling a home with pets, which may need to be contained or relocated before showing.
- Unusual activity: Sellers could be running a business from the home or engaging in some other activity that may need to cease during a showing.
- The owners or tenants are too busy: The sellers could be fastidious, or people who do not have time to show their home with their regular activities, and need more time to prepare.
- A reluctance to sell: Sometimes the sellers do not wish to make the home sale a priority and are not a motivated seller.
- The unit might have zero competition: The home could be unique and highly desirable, so buyers may not mind having to give a 24-hour notice.