September 6, 2016

Most people move house rarely and often have little idea of the etiquette required if the stress of moving is to be minimised. Our job as progressive estate agents is to help buyers and sellers minimise this stress by seeing the world through their eyes and advising accordingly.

For example, vendors often go to great lengths to prepare for a viewing. They clean the house thoroughly, making sure everything, from cushions to children’s toys, is in its place. They might light a fire, switch on the lights, arrange fresh flowers, mow the lawn, and send their teenager out to walk the dog in anticipation of the arrival of the esteemed buyer.

The agreed viewing time comes, and goes. The seller looks anxiously out of the window. Twenty minutes passes and the seller wonders if they have got the time wrong. So they wait. But still nothing and the pressure in the household mounts “was it for tomorrow?” “has the doorbell packed up?” “where are they?!”

When looking at property, communication and straight-talking are critical if the stress of moving is to be minimised. So if you are a buyer and you are running late, or decide you don’t like the look of the house you have arranged to view on arrival, be assured that the vendor would far rather you told them so than simply drive on.

Sometimes people completely forget an appointment, at least until their phone rings displaying “Jennifer Trading Places”…..This can happen to anyone, which both we and our sellers appreciate. What’s worse is that through embarrassment we sometimes never hear from that person again, a person who could end up buying the house of their dreams, even if not the one they forgot to turn up and view. “Don’t worry, you forgot, it’s fine, let’s re-arrange”

Likewise, if the property just doesn’t feel right when inside then don’t waste your time, or the seller’s, by indulging their attempts at polite conversation. Be frank, politely, and move on, or if preferred save your feedback for the agent who can relay this to the seller once the viewing has taken place.

Be sure to give prompt, sincere and detailed feedback to the agent following a viewing, as this will not only enable them to communicate better with the vendor, but also help them gain a more comprehensive understanding of your requirements as a buyer, possibly saving you time and hassle in the future.

From the sellers’ perspective it pays to be patient and forgiving. Yes, “Mr Delay” may have let us down last time and just called to say he is running late for the rescheduled appointment. However selling your home isn’t likely to be a process you go through again in the very short term and who knows, this viewing might be “the one” so keep calm. “Mr Delay” may have a very good reason for his troubles e.g. his car is being repaired that week yet so keen is he to view your property he is making a 2 hour round trip by London transport.

There are of course times when patience can be tested to its limits and I can remember once such occasion involving a rather eccentric lady, who for the purpose of this brief story I will refer to as “Mrs Friday” (she always viewed property on a Friday)

Over the course of several months, Mrs Friday viewed a number of properties, 5 in total second viewing 3 of them. She always answered our calls, or returned our messages to give viewing feedback.

After several viewings Mrs Fridays buying requirements became somewhat diverse, changing from a 1 bedroom flat to a 3 bedroom house. In fact, the type of property didn’t seem to matter, as long as it was within a certain location.

I decided to conduct a viewing with Mrs Friday myself, to pin her down on her requirements and assess whether she was likely to buy anything. As usual Mrs Friday arrived at our office ready for her viewing. Afterwards Mrs Friday declined my offer of a lift to the tube station, saying “the walk will do me good”. Something didn’t seem right. Don’t get me wrong, Mrs Friday was pretty thorough during the viewing, like a seasoned pro but it just didn’t feel right.

I left Mrs Friday, drove around the corner and stopped to watch where she went. Mrs Friday suddenly turned around, walking away from the direction of the station. I followed Mrs Friday to the next street, to see her walk up to a house and ring the doorbell. When the door was opened, Mrs Friday received a very warm embrace before disappearing inside the house.

When Mrs Friday booked the next viewing, I once again conducted the appointment, only this time I drove Mrs Friday straight to her friend’s house, where I parked up and awaited a response. Poor Mrs Friday turned as white as a sheet, clearly struggling for words, so I felt it only polite to break the silence with “don’t worry Mrs Friday, this “taxi fare” is on us but I hope you understand, next time we will need to charge, at least to cover the fuel”

With that Mrs Friday slowly whispered “im ever so sorry”, opened the car door and walked up to her “friends” house. Turns out Mrs Fridays was booking these viewings in order catch a free lift to her friend’s house.

To be fair, the whole situation was rather comical. It wouldn’t surprise me if our dear old Mrs Friday had been doing this for years – who knows how many agents had ferried her about, perhaps she was someone else’s Mrs Monday, Mrs Tuesday, Mrs Wednesday………

We later wrote to Mrs Friday to let her know there were no hard feelings and if she ever did want to move to the area we would be delighted to assist.