Realtors always ask their sellers to vacate the property during showings. We are often met with some reluctance. Sellers are excited about the features of their home and feel compelled to point them out to the buyer. Sometimes, it is simply inconvenient for the seller to pack up and clear out for a showing. Trust me on this. . .. LEAVE! Two separate incidents in the last couple of weeks reminded me of just how important it is for the seller to not be present at showings.

I had a buyer call me about a ‘For Sale By Owner’ listed on Zillow. I arranged the showing and the seller met us at the home. The seller of course pointed out the features of the home, that was currently tenant occupied, and what plans for repairs they had, what property would likely be left, and what improvement/repairs would be as-is. I cringed as each representation was made. Why? As it turned out, the buyer loved the home and wanted to write an offer. I ended up representing both parties. Unfortunately, I hadn’t had the opportunity to give the seller “the talk”. The talk is DON’T TALK TO BUYER! After their conversation, the seller was unknowingly making representations about the home and its condition and setting expectations about personal property. I wasn’t taking detailed notes during these conversations, and with the buyer’s entire family at the showing, I wasn’t even privy to some of the conversations. It would be impossible for me to ensure that all verbal representations and agreements made it into the contract and/or disclosures. And sure enough, by the end of escrow, there were concerns about personal property and its condition - property that I had not even included in the contract!

Seller disclosures are serious. Most real estate related litigation comes from seller disclosures or lack thereof. We (Realtors) have forms. Lots and lots of forms. The disclosures are specific, they have been vetted by armies of attorneys. They are designed to protect both the Buyer AND the Seller. They are in writing and they are signed off on by both parties. It is nearly impossible to enforce verbal representations. . . it is simply one person’s word, or more commonly, their recollection/interpretation versus another’s.

Not convinced? I had another call last week from a client I was representing on the purchase of property here in Chico. Her funds were coming from the sale of a property out of the area. She called upset that buyers of her property were going to back out just days before escrow closed, unless she gave them a $10,000 credit! When I asked for details, she proceeded to explain to me that she had been present at their initial showing, that she had pointed out the features and literally sold the home. She had also mentioned that the value of the furnishings was approximately $10,000 and that she would be interested in leaving it. Fast forward to an offer being received. The seller’s agent was not privy to ANY of the conversations that happened between the buyer and seller at the showing. The offer was for under asking price and did not mention any furnishings. The listing agent advised the seller that per the contract, all personal property should be removed prior to closing. Days before closing, the buyer shows up for their final walk-through and asks where the furniture that he was promised was! Did the buyer’s agent blow it by not putting the furniture in the contract? Absolutely. Did the buyer mess up by not requesting his agent put the furniture in the offer? Absolutely! But, in the end it cost the seller a few thousand dollars toward furniture to keep the deal together. In all likelihood, if there seller hadn’t been at the showing, the buyer still would have purchased the property and no expectations would have been set regarding furnishings!

I know its hard for the seller to not want to “sell” the home - to point out all of the features, and to sing the praises of the neighborhood like only someone that lives there can. As Realtors, that you hire to represent you, we may not be so bold with our sales pitch of your home. This might initially disappoint you, but keep in mind we are EXTREMELY careful with our language and representation for YOUR protection. We are careful of “puffing” (exaggerating the features/benefits of a property), and cognizant of discrimination/Fair Housing laws. You hired us to handle the details and keep you out of trouble. . . .let us!