Is a 24-Hour Notice for Home Showing Reasonable?

Why Home Sellers Might Expect a 24-Hour Notice

man opening door to house with key lockbox on handle
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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 your home on the market for sale is stressful for most sellers. You're not alone. That's because you're opening up your home to complete strangers -- strangers who will scrutinize every aspect of your home, perhaps judge you on its cleanliness, decor and presentation.

But 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. Here are sample types of notices:

  • Call First, 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 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 / 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. It's 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 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 to 24-Hour Notice to Show

    Whenever I see a home for sale that has a high number of days on market such as 90 or 120 days, the reason it hasn't yet sold can generally be found in the showing instructions. These are the homes that don't sell because they are difficult to show or are perceived to be difficult to show.

    Agents generally show 5 or more homes at a time. If they have 10 homes to choose from, and all those 10 homes are similar to each other, the homes that require 24-hour notice do not get shown. Or, at least the 24-hour notice homes are shown as a last resort, after all other showings are exhausted.

    Sometimes tenants require 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. 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. Here are reasons why a seller might require a 24-hour notice:

    • A 24-hour notice is the norm. If all homes in your community require a 24-hour notice, then by all means, ask for 24-hour notice.
    • Tenant occupied. Many leases require a 24-hour notice.
    • Medical problems. The sellers might be ill and need to make prior arrangements to vacate prior to showing.
    • 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.
    • Unorganized. The sellers could be simply fastidious or people who cannot juggle an appointment to show their home with their regular activities and may need more time to prepare.
    • Reluctance to sell. Sometimes the sellers do not wish to make the home sale a priority and are not what one would call a motivated seller.
    • No competition. The home could be unique and highly desirable, so buyers may not mind giving a 24-hour notice.

    At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, DRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.

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