Show houses are more critical than ever – here’s why




05 July 2023

Property market conditions in South Africa are currently leaning in favour of buyers, with supply significantly exceeding demand in many areas. Spoilt for choice – and often lacking any sense of urgency or competition – buyers are taking their time to look around and negotiating harder than usual on sales prices.

According to David Jacobs, Regional Sales Manager for the Rawson Property Group, conditions like these can make it difficult for sellers to attract the right kind of buyer attention. To overcome this challenge, he strongly urges sellers not to overlook valuable marketing opportunities – particularly when it comes to the most traditional sales technique of all: show houses.

“There’s no denying the convenience of online listings and virtual tours,” he says, “but in terms of motivating buyers, nothing beats the hands-on experience of a live show house.”

This, Jacobs says, is partly due to practical reasons, and partly due to buyer psychology.

“Savvy buyers like to inspect all the nooks and crannies that curated online content doesn’t always show,” he says. “They’re going to be opening cupboards, checking water pressure, looking at the3-May-25-2023-01-00-42-2617-PM roof. They’re also going to be getting a feel for those less tangible elements – light, flow, ambiance – and imagining how their own lives might fit into the space.”

While these are all important and powerful motivators, they are not the only forces at work during a show house. According to Jacobs, the real secret behind show houses’ success is their ability to create a sense of competition between buyers.

“It’s very easy – particularly in a buyers’ market – for buyers to forget that they’re not the only ones who may be interested in a property,” he says. “Bringing them together at a show house is a great way to ignite a sense of competition and some healthy urgency – there’s nothing more motivating than the fear of missing out.”

Of course, getting a group of potential buyers together is often easier said than done in this market. This, Jacobs says, is where your choice of agent can make all the difference.

“Active and well-respected local agents almost always have a pool of interested buyers on their register,” he explains. “That means you’re not relying solely on the same online advertising platforms as every other seller, which can really give you a leg up in terms of buyer visibility and standing out from the crowd.”

While show houses are typically arranged and managed by agents, they’re not exactly effort-free for sellers. Jacobs says a little preparation is almost always necessary, but show houses shouldn’t need to be repeated more than few times at most.

“A well-staged home, expertly shown to a select pool of qualified buyers shouldn’t need to be opened to visitors more than a few times, even in a buyers’ market,” he says.

To improve your odds, he suggests doing the following prep work, alongside any specific recommendations from your real estate agent:

  1. Deep clean – there’s nothing quite like a layer of grime to put a buyer off. Put some elbow grease into getting your property squeaky clean and shining, including windows, carpets and curtains.
  2. Declutter – make your home feel more spacious by clearing out as much clutter as possible. Pop those doodads and knickknacks in storage, clear your counters and garage corners, and unstuff any closets that appear overly full. (Storage space is a big selling point, so make yours look as large as possible.)
  3. Depersonalise – our homes are normally safe spaces to express our personalities and our views on religion, family, politics and more. When showing your home, however, it’s best present as neutral a picture as possible, removing items of a personal or controversial nature to make it easier for buyers to imagine their own lives in your space.
  4. Leave it to the pros – most buyers feel awkward exploring a space and asking difficult (but necessary) questions about a property under the watchful eyes of its owners. It’s far better to take the family – including any furkids – out for the day, and let your agent do their best work with complete focus.

Concerned about show house security? Click here for top tips on keeping your property, possessions, and agent safe while showing your home to potential buyers.

 Winter weather giving your show house gloomy vibes? Click here for cosy staging tips that really work!



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David Jacobs

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