Yesterday as I thought I was leaving a showing with my buyers, we abruptly stopped and launched into a ten minute discussion on the merits of the first house we had seen that day vs. the one in which we were now standing. This is an important part of the buying process. My buyers are making the biggest financial decision of their lives. But still….we’re in another person’s house and there’s a good chance at least one of the owners is staring us down from the neighbor’s window wondering what on Earth is going on! That got me thinking that sellers never really know the answer to that question. And knowing the answer might just help an owner do a better job preparing their home to sell. Here are some answers in case you have ever wondered about any of these questions:

Are they opening my closets?

Yes. And your refrigerator. And maybe your bathroom cabinets. Most buyers with whom I’ve worked are super respectful of the owners, but if they buy the home, they are also buying the closets and cabinets and quite possibly the refrigerator. They need to look. So be prepared. Ideally, clean out those spaces so they show as well as the rest of your house. And if there is anything you DON’T want a buyer to see, sell it, give it away, or keep it in the trunk of your car.

Are my photos really that distracting?

Yes and no. Personally, I love seeing family photos when I’m showing houses because it breaks up my day! But it also breaks up the showing. Buyers will always stop to glance at photos. They’ll try to figure out if they know you, or where you went to college, or what branch of the service grandpa was in. Multiple degrees or awards on a wall will lead to several minutes of questioning occupations and interests. This could always help form a connection between the buyer and seller. But more often than not, it simply takes away from the showing. Instead of remembering your house as the “one with the antique mantel” it becomes the house with the “Olin Mills collage wall.”

Are they using my bathroom?

I know: Eww. But the answer is maybe. Most will ask if it’s OK but no agent is going to say, “No. You can’t go to the bathroom.” So assume they might and make it a positive part of the showing! Buyers want to pretend that nobody has ever used the bathrooms in the homes they want to buy, so keep it sparkly! Put out fresh hand towels before showings and check to make sure that the last person who used that room did all the things one should do when finishing that task (especially if you have boys because….boys). And don’t let your toilet paper run down to the wire. A fresh roll says, “Wow! Nobody has ever used this bathroom before!” Denial is our friend here.

They’ve been in there forever! Does that mean they’re going to buy the house?

Maybe. Or maybe they’re just chatting and their agent can’t get them to scoot out the door (see paragraph one). But if they are comfortable in your home, that is always a good thing. So don’t get too frustrated if that particular buyer doesn’t make an offer. Know that the agent did his or her best and be proud of the fact that you have a home where people feel welcome to hang out.