Don’t Overlook These Rules Of Engagement When Selling A Home

Xavier De Buck
Published on August 24, 2016

Don’t Overlook These Rules Of Engagement When Selling A Home

Don’t Overlook These Rules Of Engagement When Selling A Home

selling a home

Don’t Overlook These Rules Of Engagement When Selling A Home!

Why are there ‘rules of engagement’ when selling a home?

“I’m the home seller, so I can do whatever I want, no?”


However, think about it this way: when you’re selling your home, you are entering a very competitive market, and a great way to give yourself the edge is to remove obstacles which would otherwise prevent the sale of your home!

Unfortunately, home sellers can often become their own worst enemies in trying to reach that goal of selling a home!

Point in case: you may have been watching the 2016 Olympic Games taking place in Rio de Janeiro.

It’s an understatement to say that these athletes are at the top of their game (except perhaps ‘Robel the whale’, but now I’m digressing).

As viewers, we pretty much all marvel at the discipline, effort, and perseverance they have displayed in reaching this high point in their careers and going for gold.

Now imagine if they were to disregard the rules!?

Runners running in the incorrect lanes; race walkers trying to break into a run while the officials aren’t looking; boxers hitting below the belt, or putting weights into the gloves in order to hit harder.

They may think that these adjustments would make their task easier or make it more convenient to reach their goals.

However, any athlete who doesn’t compete according to the rules is disqualified!

They fall short of their dream of a medal and instead acquire a DNF – “Did Not Finish” on their record.

Of course, any serious athlete doesn’t consider these types of tactics – they appreciate that the often-stringent rules are there for good reason!

In the same way, there are certain rules for the process of selling a home, from the time you interview a real estate agent and undertake to have your home evaluated, right through to the point of finalising the home sale.

You could refer to these guidelines or manners of behaviour, as ‘rules of engagement of selling a home’ if you wish.

While the rules of the Olympic Games are always easy to check (since they are written down in black and white), there are several rules of engagement for selling a home, which may not be quite so easy to discern, falling into the realm of good etiquette!

Any interested home buyer will tend to lose interest rather quickly in a property if you as the home seller break those rules of engagement!

Why don’t you give yourself an advantage, and familiarize yourself with some of the most important rules of engagement for selling a home listed below:

Rule #1 — Stay flexible

Once your home is first listed (and assuming your real estate agent is doing a great job), there should be a rush of interested buyers early on in this part of the marketing process.

As the home seller, one of the crucial rules of engagement is to make room for the agent to maximise the number of viewings.

A home seller who refuses to accommodate viewings is really shooting himself in the foot!

You’re asking: what could possibly motivate a home seller to restrict viewings of his property?

A lot of us are participating in the ‘corporate rat race‘, where we generally already have enough on our plates to deal with, without trying to fit in another major life event, such as selling a home and relocating!

Often, this kind of pressure can cause us to be possessive about our time, which might result in us trying to limit or excessively control the time given to viewings.

To successfully bring through a good amount of interest – and hopefully, the right kind of offer to purchase contract in the end – will require flexibility on the side of the home seller.

The idea of flexibility as one of the rules of engagement applies in a broader sense as well.

If you are going to maximise your buyer showings, then this includes practical issues like ensuring good access for your real estate agent and his clients.

Please don’t make it difficult for them to gain entry during viewings!

Sometimes, it comes down to little details, such as parking your own vehicle in such as a way as to make it easy for viewers to park their own vehicles.

Oh, and ideally, try to avoid canceling buyer viewing appointments if you can at all, especially at the last minute – often the real estate agent has organised to meet prospective buyers well in advance.

Cancellations might not only set the process back by days or weeks, the interested buyers might see something different instead and never bother to come back for a viewing!

Remember – anything that remains flexible is not easily broken! 

So rather stay flexible.

Rule #2 — Make your property presentable

selling a home be presentable

When selling a home, make sure it is presentable!


If you are reading this while eating your lunch, you may want to pause for this part of the article or you may lose your appetite!

Okay, it’s probably not that bad, but nevertheless!

Every buying agent has sad stories of at least one major faux pas that they’ve experienced while leading property buyers on tours through potential new homes.

These unfortunate stories range from piles of dirty laundry on display in the house, to piles of dirty dishes in the kitchen, or (slightly) worse: on the dining room table, to lingering odors, to open unflushed toilets(!)

The list goes on and on!

If you’re selling a home, the only time this is a good idea would be if you really like seeing the backs of people’s heads as they run out the door!

Good rules of engagement dictate that home sellers instead check the house ahead of a showing.

A Monet is worth a 1,000 Shakespeare’s when it comes to a home’s presentation!

A good exercise is to try to put yourself ‘inside of the head’ of a buyer, and try to ‘see it through their eyes’.

Doing this mindfully and consciously, you will soon see those surfaces which need to be cleared and those areas which need straightening out to make the house that much more attractive!

While you’re at it, make sure the house is well-lit: Light is your friend while showing a house.

Also, keep cupboard space in order.

Why’s that?

Well, when you are buying a house, you like to check what kind of storage space you are getting, not so?

So, you can expect potential buyers to take a quick peek in your cupboards!

Therefore, you shouldn’t put all the items you’ve cleared in a precarious pile that will tip out as they open the closet doors!

You’re laughing with what I just said, but it happens all-the-time!

Straighten out the cupboards and be sure to leave some space inside if possible.

Heck, if you want to take this to the next level, you can work on those minor repairs that need taking care of ahead of your first showing: replace the washer on that leaky tap, hang a new door in your son’s room after that time the soccer ball made a hole in it.

Another great tip is to take a look at the exterior of the property: some home sellers neglect to include the garden and parking area during this kind of ‘once-over’.

Rule #3 — Listen to your agent

I want to make a few assumptions here:

(1) Instead of selling a home yourself, you have chosen to go with a real estate agent; (2) you have hired a reputable, professional real estate agent, and; (3) you have checked his sales history, success rate and you are happy with same…

So far, so good?

Guess what: you should not only listen to what your agent has to say, but follow his advice as well!

Your home is, in all probability, your most valuable asset, which is why you be very careful in choosing a real estate agent in the first place – you can benefit from their advice and knowledge in the property market.

Some home sellers prefer to hold out for a much higher price than what the agent actually recommended, and set a price that is so high above market value that it can only be described as cheeky.

Invariably, this only slows down the marketing process and lends itself to negative momentum.

Of course, you need to be happy with the decisions you make together with your real estate agent.

But, be sure to carefully weigh up their (price) recommendations before you choose to disregard them and clearly opt for overpricing your home instead!

Your real estate agent has been around the block and will have suffered through A LOT of headaches so that you don’t have to go through that suffering yourself!

Rule #4 — Be absent

selling a home be absent

When selling a home, try to be absent during viewings!

Some home sellers think it helpful to accompany prospective buyers on a tour of the house.

It is the unanimous affirmation of both buying and selling agents that this is in fact extremely UN-helpful!

Home sellers who ‘hover’ or ‘lurk’ around prospective buyers tend to make the buyers feel awkward, nervous or unable to level with the agent about their true feelings and/or questions regarding the house.

One agent reported a home seller who hung around in the house, generally distracting the potential buyers from the business at hand.

He then whipped out a guitar and started an impromptu performance, destroying the house touring process!

I kid you not!

Don’t look at me: it happened to a colleague! 🙂

This extreme ‘Elvis Presley’ example shows us how unhelpful it can be for home sellers to stick around.

Do yourself a favour and leave the house while the showing is taking place!

Make yourself scarce so that your agent can bring out the best result.

Getting out of the house may seem inconvenient, but put it this way: would you rather leave for 30-60 minutes or so, or would you prefer your potential buyers to leave permanently – without ever submitting an offer?

And yes, the same applies for your pets!

But, how do you go about selling a home with pets?

That’s a question real estate agents hear a lot!

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but pets cannot be allowed to interfere with buyer viewings and should be removed to a safe, isolated area (or leave the house with you if possible).

If they are on the property, they can still make noise or disturb buyers in other ways.

Whereas we have a lot of pet lovers, we need to be aware that there is quite a high incidence of cynophobia – a.k.a. the fear of dogs – as well!

Your little Poochie is very cute to you, but can be terrifying to a prospective buyer.

Needless to say, dog and cat droppings ought to be cleaned up, throughout both the interior AND the exterior of the house.

Duvets and couches should be cleared of dog and cat hair, which can cause the allergies of prospective buyers to flare up.

Reptiles can be terrifying to those who are not in contact with them regularly.

Birds in cages can be noisy, messy and distracting.

Make no mistake about it: pet odors can kill a home sale!

Increase your chances of a sale, and make the necessary arrangements to not only clean up their mess, but also keep them out of sight during showings!

Rule #5 — Good manners go far

One of the last rules of engagement is one that is common to all types of business relationships: maintain basic courteous behaviour at all times!

You’d be surprised at how much this can help you towards any goal, including selling a home.

Remember your P’s and Q’s! (which is a fancy English way of saying to be using ‘please’ and ‘thank you’!)

Respect one another’s time: this could mean setting aside one point of regular contact with your agent rather than sending a thousand communications to him over the phone and emails throughout the day.

And, if you were to receive unfortunate news (for example, the buyer’s home loan application didn’t go through or the bank appraisal was disappointing), be sure not to ‘throw your toys out of the cot,’ or to blame someone who is not responsible.

Closing thoughts

While these important rules of engagement when selling a home obviously cannot guarantee home sales, if you do follow them (even where it may be an inconvenience), they can all only help to speed up the sales process and allow you to reach your goal quickly and smoothly.

Like an Olympic Athlete, you stand to benefit the most by following the rules, and win in the competitive business of real estate sales!

If your real estate agent enjoys a good working relationship with you, he will be both glad and eager to give you the best possible service at all times.

This way, you will be able to fulfill the last pointer under good manners: being sure to say ‘Thank You’ when you get a great price for your home!

You’re welcome!

Other Selling A Home Related Articles:

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About the author: The above article “Don’t Overlook These Rules Of Engagement When Selling A Home was written by Xavier De Buck, your top-producing Johannesburg real estate agent. Xavier has been nationally recognized and awarded for providing service excellence, exceptional property sales, whilst exhibiting the highest level of professionalism. With over 15 years combined experience as a real estate agent and real estate investor, if you’re thinking of buying or selling a home in Johannesburg, Xavier would love to share his property knowledge and expertise.

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