Lancaster County PA Realty Check: Is Your Agent Prepared When He/She Shows You Homes?

Is Your Agent Prepared When He/She Shows You Homes?

Is Your Agent Prepared When He/She Shows You Homes?

Many agents are all too willing to jump into their car and show listings to a prospect without any delay.  But is that the way to provide the optimum value to a potential Lancaster County home buyer?  In many cases, the best agents will take the time to preview the homes for themselves before they take buyers there.

Previewing a listing definitely gives both the agent and the buyer several advantages.

1)  Your agent knows exactly where the properties are relative to each other, so there's no hunting around  when you are seeing several properties in an unfamiliar area.  The most efficient route can be chosen, saving time and fuel.

2)  Your agent can answer questions with more depth than if he/she had just reviewed it on the MLS - such as what else is surrounding the immediate property.

3)  There won't be any embarassing moments trying to find lockboxes in odd places, or fighting with unfamiliar door locks.

4)  You may be able to cross off a property from the tour altogether due to the condition it is in (some homes have overly "optimistic" descriptions posted; some homes have deteriorated since the original listing date) or a location that makes it inappropriate for the particular search.

Previewing properties before a showing is just one of the little things that a good agent can do behind the scenes that make the home buying process go more smoothly.




Brian Schulman offers expert real estate representation for buyers and sellers of homes in Lancaster County, PA.  To learn more, visit

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Comment balloon 122 commentsBrian Schulman • December 10 2011 08:18AM


OMG, you are good if you go out and preview properties before showing them.  I do not have time to do that. We end up exploring new homes together and it seems to work for me.

Posted by Cindy Edwards, CRS, GRI, PMN - Northeast Tennessee - 423-677-6677 (RE/MAX Checkmate) about 9 years ago

Cindy, I try to preview homes when I have the time - which obviously is not always possible.  Still, it does have its advantages when we are able to do it.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

I saw another post talking about this same thing.  We may have the time to do that right now because things have slowed down just a tad, but when we are both juggling 5-7 buyers at a time...  it's just not possible.  

Posted by Amanda Christiansen, Christiansen Group Realty (Christiansen Group Realty (260)704-0843) about 9 years ago

With November and december being slower it did help me as I previewed homes and 3 of them one of my investors bought and it help that I had seen them first.

Posted by Chuck Carstensen, Minnesota Real Estate Expert (RE/MAX Results) about 9 years ago

Brian, I agree with you whole heartedly.  When I was active I made every effort to preview home of interest and likely interest on the route. Yes, you ARE right in that it can help prevent nasty:-) or other types of unwelcome surprises. Sometimes it seems that MLS listings should be totally re-written.

Posted by M. Suzi Woods (Gravenstuk), Suzi Woods, Prior Independent REBroker in MS (NOW Sharing the life and spice of the GC one day at a time) about 9 years ago

Subjective on how to proceed in this day and age and of course area too...Buyers today move in all directions and agents have to exercise client control.

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) about 9 years ago

The Christiansen Team - I agree, it depends on how busy you are, but it's an idea worth considering.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

I agree, it provides a better experience for your prospect/client if you have time to preview properties for them.  I don't always do this, but in the case of out of area prospects/clients I make an extra effort. First I walk through the property, turn on lights, unlock doors etc., then once I'm familiar with the property I walk through again shooting a video and making comments. I post this to youtube and send my prospect/client an invitation to view.  This extra effort provides much more value to my prospect/client and as a result I've gotten extra business out of it.

Posted by Rickey Williams about 9 years ago

Chuck, as you say, now that things have slowed down due to both the holidays and the recession, we do have the opportunity to take a little more time preparing before showings.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

Your point is a good one. Preparation/previewing beforehand on just about any level is a plus. Being prior military, I can relate first hand. I can also understand how difficult it can and must be be for an agent to coordinate schedules of all parties involved to make such a thing happen on a consistant basis. It seems to me that anyone doing this on a consistant basis is to be commended. Controlling your schedule in coordination with others is tough.

Posted by Robert Rucker III about 9 years ago

Suzi, when we get into how some properties get described, that could be a whole new post!  One of my favorites is "Priced to sell fast!" on a listing that has been on the market for 312 days...

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

Richie, not sure what you mean by client control.  My point is that by doing some advance homework, we can provide more value and possibly save some time for the client as well.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

Robert, I agree that it's not always possible to prepare as much as we would like beforehand - but you make a great point that consistency can be one of the biggest factors for success.  Thanks for your military service!

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

Well Brian I often get calls from agents/principals who are just in the area and want to looky loo...not buy. The principals can do what they want, but the agents should fine tune that behavior (client control) so as to not waste time. Your post explains it very well Brian...thank you

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) about 9 years ago

Rickey, it sounds like you are making the most of your opportunities to show homes!

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

I preview when I can, but sometimes buyers don't let me know what homes they want to see until we are out the door.   I live in a very busy community, people work long hours, travel etc, and don't usually have that kind of prep time.  It's ideal to do what you describe, but I rarely get to do it!

Posted by Coral Gundlach, Real Lives. Not Just Real Estate. (Compass) about 9 years ago
Hi Brian. I rarely preview... Most of my buyers pick the homes they want to see, and I happily oblige... Thanks for writing, Ken
Posted by Ken Tracy, Helping clients buy and sell since 2005 (Coldwell Banker Residential) about 9 years ago

I used to preview a lot when I was new. But one thing I still do is a trial drive to the area. There is nothing worse than getting lost. That really puts a dent in your "I'm familiar with this area" speech.

Posted by Sandy Acevedo, RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale (951-290-8588) about 9 years ago

I try to see all the new listing in my area during broker tours - if I haven't seen it before showing, I definitely try to preview.  A little more up-front effort results in a streamlined showing routine.

Posted by Margaret Goss, Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate (Baird & Warner Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Not possible for me to preview but I have often driven by every home on the tour the day before so I know where I am going and if I notice anyting unusual.

Posted by Barb Szabo, CRS, E-pro Realtor, Cleveland Ohio Homes (RE/MAX Trinity Brecksville Ohio) about 9 years ago

It's all about being professional

Posted by Jack O'Neal (HomeSmart Elite Group) about 9 years ago

Most of my buyers call to see properties that just hit the MLS that day.  They get the email alert the same time I do.  So it's not possible many times.  I yearn for the days when there was enough time.  

Posted by Tni LeBlanc, Realtor®, J.D., Tenacious Tni (805) 878-9879 (Mint Properties, Lic. #01871795) about 9 years ago

Quite often I've found that buyers don't know exactly what they want until they see it, so when I preview and rule out properties, they usually want to see it anyway.

If I have clients who are relocating to the area and looking for a specific school district, # bed/bath, etc I always preview the homes.  They typically fly in for a day or two and we only have a limited amount of time, so I want to make sure they see the best of the best.

Posted by Kerry Lucasse, Your Urban Nest Atlanta Real Estate Consultant (eXp Realty - Urban Nest Real Estate Group) about 9 years ago

I can't afford the time to do previewing, so the best thing next is this.  I set up a list of homes that fit my buyer's criteria.  I talk to them either over the phone, email or in person, according to their personality.  We pick out 6 to 12 houses out of a list.  I, the client or both, VIRTUALLY, drive by using Google Map.  Together, we then pick out 4-5 house to go see inside. Our MLS allows up to 20 photos and virtual tours so we check out those options too.

Posted by Bruce Hicks, Your Lifetime Friend/Helper! (Best Homes Hawaii) about 9 years ago

One of the things I began doing as a new agent was driving the route I would take when I was going out with my buyer.  I didn't want to feel like I had to rely on my GPS to take from A to B.  Getting the opportunity to preview along the way is a great way to overperform....if there's time.


Posted by Gene Donohue, Flat Fee Service...Exceptional Results! (Only Way Realty / about 9 years ago

Brian, that's amazing if you can do that. I preview properties mostly if I have foreign nationals and we are working on a very tight schedule for when they are here. Kudos to you for being able to do that. 

Posted by Erna Neal, A Knowledgable Central Florida Realtor (The Viking Team, Realty) about 9 years ago

I am with Cindy #1 - I don't have time to preview properties, I do get instructions about the lockbox location, etc. and preview pictures and the listing.  Most of the time I have seen the home or know the community and am very comfortable.  Thanks for your post. 

Posted by Joy Daniels (Joy Daniels Real Estate Group, Ltd.) about 9 years ago

I am all for previewing because it is nice to know where everything is before you get people in the car or following behind you! Nothing is more embarassing then wandering aimlessly while your people are behinD you saying WTH! 

Posted by Rosalie Evans, The Evans Group, Sioux Falls, SD Homes For Sale (Meritus Group Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Generally I like to do research for buyers prior to showing but it's not always possible.  However, I always know the market trends and can spot when a home is well-priced, etc.

Posted by Bryan Robertson about 9 years ago
Unfortuntely in my market we don't have that luxury. Properties sell immediately. We usually look at them after the offer has been accepted :)
Posted by Bryant Tutas, Selling Florida one home at a time (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC) about 9 years ago

Hi Brian, I agree... assuming the time exists, and it's practical, it's always best to preview a home before showing it to a client. It further demonstrates your active engagement in serving the client's best interests. Moreover, it's a clear diferentiator between one agent's level of service, and another.

Posted by Anthony Gilbert, Real Estate SEO about 9 years ago


No matter how busy I am, it is my highest priority to preview every home I show. What started me doing this was being unable to find the home on one of my showings with a very good client. Even though it was not entirely my fault; no street sign, address numbers were out of sequence in this are, the end result was this client bought that home through another agent.

Today, there are so many variables in this market, the more we can prepare, the better results we obtain. cheers cvc

Posted by Curtis Van Carter, Your Napa Valley Broker Extraordinaire (Better Homes & Gardens Wine Country Group) about 9 years ago

I very rarely preview the interior of a home.  I find it a little intruding to the sellers.  I do preview from the exterior - as I drive the neighborhood, search the area out.  We have so much "house" information online with photos and virtural tours the item that is most neglected is the neighborhood.  I can see the inside of the house from the photos but I can't see the house sitting next door where Sanford and Son live!

Posted by Jo Olson, Retired - HOMEFRONT Realty @ LAKE Roosevelt (HOMEFRONT Realty) about 9 years ago

Being totally preparied when showing homes is crucial and its tougher now than ever to be totally preparied because of the amount of inventory that my clients want to look at. When trying to schedule 15 showings in day or 30 in a weekend there are bound to be mishaps, but get it done smoothly and with poise and your clients will be more than impressed!

Posted by Bob Davis (Right Move Real Estate) about 9 years ago


Previewing is a lost art in Silicon Valley.  Few agents do it anymore, but it is a valuable service to save a client's time.

Posted by Lloyd Binen, Silicon Valley Realtor since 1976; 408-373-4411 (Certified Realty Services) about 9 years ago

I always preview and I study the market.  I love the initial call witho the seller as they are shocked, I love knowing where every light switch is and what is behind every door.   And I can be very effiecient in my time with my client, afterall they hired me to help them find a house not waste their time and possibly loose it because my energies were on other things.  It is a no brainer for me!

Posted by Yvonne Burdette-Van Camp, "Home"work, I have the Answers! (To Buy and Sell Real Estate, see me at Southwest Missouri Realty) about 9 years ago

I love previewing homes for clients. I can see them much more quickly on my own, cut out all the "no way" homes, and then be far more prepared when I'm with my clients. It also saves my clients a great deal of time. To those that think they don't have time to preview, I'd argue that you'd save time overall, and your clients would be receiving a higher level of service. I must also acknowledge that it isn't always possible, just a preferred way to operate.

Posted by Greg Kilroy, the Velocity Group (Keller Williams Sonoran Living - The Velocity Group) about 9 years ago

Brian, I preview the home on Internet - as I work with 'distant' buyers (and show them homes as far as 50 miles from my office) - but do try to get the idea about home, neighborhood etc - and using our showing system, get the optimum route if we are going to see more than 2 homes.

All good points one needs to remember, if one wants to be a good buyer's agent. Good post.

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) about 9 years ago

Interesting... I think I am in the same boat as the rest...I preview when I can and now I have more time than the spring. Nice post!

Posted by Paula Bradfield, Your Salida Colorado area Realtor Team (Bradfield Ramsey Group) about 9 years ago

Being able to preview at times does not work for me. If on a previous showing to another client I CAN speak intelligently about a particular property. Now if it's for an out of state investor/buyer that's a different situation altogether.

Posted by Robert L. Brown, Grand Rapids Real Estate Bellabay Realty, West Mic ( about 9 years ago

We used to be an area that heavily emphasized broker opens. You were expected to know your market areas and the competition for your listings. With the advent of gps, google earth, and video tours there is much less need to get in to every house before showing. The exception of, course, is if you are working even slight;y out of area. If I have a relo that wants a tour of 20 subdivisions in 6 towns over 3 days, I will drive around ahead of time to make sure I know where the parks and schools are.

Posted by Leslie Ebersole, I help brokers build businesses they love. (Swanepoel T3 Group) about 9 years ago

It is nice to have previewed the homes beforehand, and to be prepared, does make things go more smoothly. But thank goodness for gps etc.

Posted by Ellen Dittman, #1 Stop for NE FLA-JAX/OP 904.535.1199 (TEXT OK) r (Watson Realty Corp.) about 9 years ago

Good call Brian, I feel so much more at ease when I have already previewed homes I'm showing, and I'm sure that comes across to customers. Just like with any business, it's about knowing your product inside & out (no pun intended. . . well, o.k. maybe pun intended). Cheers!

Posted by Roger Steiner, Seattle & West Seattle Property Marketing (RSVP Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Brian it helps to be familar with the inventory and route, but it is not always possible to preview.

Posted by Jennifer Fivelsdal, Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection ( JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571) about 9 years ago

Hi Brian - I always look at Google maps to see what kind of properties surround the one I am showing, but it's not always possible to preview.  But I can tell them that it's next to a commercial parking lot or the highway, which helps.

Posted by Peggy Chirico, REALTOR® 860-748-8900, Hartford & Tolland County Real Estate (Prudential CT Realty) about 9 years ago

Brian, previewing is one area where I think we have to be good girl and boy scouts and be prepared!

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Some agents are never "preparied" when shuttling clients around.

I'd say 80% of the ones I deal with aren't.  It's typically the other 20% that get their offers accepted.

Good post, thanks for sharing it.

Posted by Anthony Daniels, SF Bay Area REO Specialist (Coldwell Banker) about 9 years ago

Previewing the property makes you look and sound professional as you are showing the home. Your buyers will appreciate this professionalism, which will lead to referrals and more sales!

Posted by Donald Reich (Prudential Centennial) about 9 years ago

I find it more efficient to go to open houses when I can and know the inventory.  However, NH is a small state and often buyers look in several towns and some are 30-45 minutes away... I have them do the initial drivebys, get the sellers disclosures and then we go and view them.  Often they discount a home without even wanting to go in.  With large amount of inventory, one cannot preview all the homes.  This seems to work out very welll.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) about 9 years ago


I try to preview if I have out of town clients in on a really short timeframe.  Otherwise, I am generally up to date on my market area, with caravans and previous showings that I don't do previews all the time.

All the best, Michelle

Posted by Michelle Francis, Realtor, Buckhead Atlanta Homes for Sale & Lease (Tim Francis Realty LLC) about 9 years ago

Brian -- I preview whenever/wherever possible. It's not always easy, but it's so valuable. A few years back I had previewed a home that the buyers hated when we drove up. They said they'd just pass.  It was not their 'style', but I knew they would love the interior flow.  Well, they went in, and I couldn't get them out! They found their house.

Posted by Barbara Altieri, REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale (Kinard Realty Group Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Hi Brian,
Thanks for sharing.
I usually preview properties if time permits.
A buyer consultation definitely helps to narrow down the house hunting process.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Posted by Digital Digital, full service about 9 years ago

Brian, It really depends on the hoems themselves and the time available.  in my area ou have to view the house as soon as the come out.  Sometimes if you spend time previewing and then showing, you will lose the chance to submit an offer.  the good houses usually fly right away.

Posted by Luis Iniguez, Search Inland Empire Homes For Sale - Short Sale Agent (Option One Real Estate) about 9 years ago

A few minutes previewing can sometimes save hours when we're with a buyer. And in the Las Vegas market, there's always the possibility of missing appliances, cabinets, fixtures, etc. that aren't always noted in the MLS. Knowing about this ahead of time makes for less surprises and more efficient showings.

Posted by John Novak, Henderson, Las Vegas and Summerlin Real Estate (Keller Williams Realty The Marketplace) about 9 years ago

It is important to know your inventory to demonstrate expertise. I always preview homes before showing them plus ask anything the listing agent can tell me about the peroperty in addition to what is on the MLS. I would not go in blind since my client's time is valuable. I have an in depth buyer consultation prioir to showing homes so that I can fully understand the criteria of all decision makers. Next I preview the homes so I can show my clients only the homes that fit their criteria.  Otherwise in my county where we do not have tracks of homes for the most part and the homes and land are not comparable, not to preview would be the blind leading the blind. 

Posted by Melody Russell, Ranked as 1 of the top selling agents in SC County (eXp Realty of California Inc.) about 9 years ago

I'm a huge proponet of previewing!  Just shows professionalism!!

Posted by Stephen Arnold, CRS, GRI, SFR (HomeSmart Elite Group) about 9 years ago

For those buyers with a good sense of what they are looking for previewing certainly is an added benefit of the services we can offer.  Some, within other criteria that just aren't sure, it may be a good idea to take them out and show them some various styles to narrow down their true desires.

Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) about 9 years ago

Wow - just came back this morning & found so many new comments!  Thanks for all your input - I'll try to respond to as many as possible.

Coral, that's what I'm saying; we don't always time, but there certainly are advantages with more preparation.

Hi Ken - no problem - different strokes for different folks!

Sandy, since my area is physically large, I don't want to be hunting for streets either.  It's embarassing and not a professional impression for our clients.  And getting lost would certainly cast doubt on our expertise!

Margaret, I used to hate the weekly tours because they "wasted" at least half a day every week.  I'm now with a company that has so many listings that tours wouldn't be practical - but viewing homes that my buyers are interested in still has value.

Barb, even driving the route beforehand can make the showings more efficient.

Jack, agreed.  Thanks for stopping by.


Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

Knowing your area has value. Pre-programming your GPS is not enough! LOL

Posted by Dawn Maloney, 330-990-4236 Hudson & Northeastern Ohio (RE/MAX Trinity Northeast Ohio Real Estate Specialist) about 9 years ago

Tni, it does seem like life is going faster and faster, doesn't it?

Kerry, some buyers just have to see for themselves one or two properties that we felt they wouldn't like before they come around to trusting our judgment.

Bruce, that sounds like a pretty effective way of handling the issue.

Gene, GPSs are great, but they can still embarass you with people in the car!  Driving the route enables us to pick out landmarks and other details.

Erna, I'm not amazing.  I'm just pointing out how it can be helpful when you're able to spend the time.

Joy, I know you're busy - I hear your Glenn Beck radio ads because you're not far from my own area!  I'm sure that with your knowledge of your neighborhoods you do a fine job.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

Brian, all very good reasons for previewing a property before showing it to a potential buyer. Good points!

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA about 9 years ago

Rosalie - exactly!

Bryan, research of any kind brings value to your clients.

Broker Bryant - with your success rate I wouldn't presume to second-guess your methods!

Anthony, it certainly is a way to differentiate yourself - and hopefully garner some referrals as well.

Curtis, thanks for your "war story".  It only takes one or two experiences like that to make us try to improve our game.

Jo, that's what I'm saying - the surrounding homes aren't going to be described in the MLS!

Bob, I try not to show more than five to six houses in one tour.  If a client wants to see many more than that, I try to narrow the first showing to their 5 or 6 best choices.  More than that just gets confusing, and may be an indication that the buyers aren't really focused yet.  When agents talk about client control, this is one aspect, for the client's own good as well as the agent's time.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

Previewing still has a place in some situations. Most really successful agents are simply too busy to do it. More expensive these days because of increased costs couppled with decreased home costs therefore lower commission checks. The top trainers say it is old fashioned and that we should be prospecting instead. We still have to once in awhile to familiarize ourselves with the homes in certain situations. Don't feel that you always have to preview or your business can become a "job" where we receive no paycheck.

Posted by Randy & Nancy Selby (The Woodlands,TX Connect about 9 years ago

Brian, I think you are absolutely, 100% correct to preview homes whenever possible. I try to do the same. On that note, I also feel that crossing a property off the possible showing list depends on the buyer. An investor is going to see the home much more differently that a first timer. 

Posted by Chiara Petro, Your KEY to Home Sweet Home - Knoxville TN (eXp Realty - Angie Cody Team) about 9 years ago

Lloyd, thanks for the input on your area.

Yvonne, I'll bet that your showings have a high success rate!

Greg, how many other professions can give the opportunity of seeing lots of interesting homes?

Praful, I get requests for fairly distant showings, too - sometimes 25 or more miles away, although still in Lancaste County.  Sometimes those are the very ones that can benefit the most from previewing the route.

Paula, many of us do have more time at this time of year than we will in the spring - although with the slowing of real estate over the holidays comes an increase in social activities that takes up our time (in a pleasant way!)

Robert, for out-of-area buyers here for only a short time, it's indeed necessary to be totally prepared beforehand so as to be as efficient with their time as possible.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

If I am going "out in the country" I like to preview... there are too many cases where you do all that driving and pull up next to a trailer.... or something else that is not too desirable.  Google maps has helped a lot with that!  But it still can pay off especially with out of town buyers that are on a tight schedule.  

Posted by Lexie Longstreet (Savvy + Co. Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Anytime I don't preview first, I can count on embarrassment.

Posted by Rob D. Shepherd, Principal Broker GRI, SRES (Windermere/lane county) about 9 years ago

If I'm not familiar with a home/floor plan then I will preview.  Most of the time I find there are simply not enough hours in a day to do so.

Posted by Judi Monday, CRS-Green Valley AZ Expert, Green Valley Arizona R (RE/MAX Valley Properties) about 9 years ago

previewing always the best way to go, I am constantly amazed at the inadequate showing instructions some agents put on their listings, makes all of us fumble around and we give the buyer the impression we are not familiar.

I do alot of Zillow inquiry and am constantly showing people I have never met before, it is always a good thing to have previewed things as they come  on the market just so you can land on your feet it offered an opportunity to quickly respond.

Greetings from Innerloop Houston Texas

Linda Jamail Marshall,Broker,ABR,QSC,RECS,ACRE


Posted by Linda Jamail Marshall, Broker, ABR,QSC,RECS,ACRE - Innerloop Houston, Tex (Linda Marshall,Houston Texas, Linda Marshall, Realtors®) about 9 years ago


I see lots of homes on my own for out of town buyers.  In fact I think I see more alone than with people in tow.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) about 9 years ago

I do not preview many unless my client is out of town and is interested.  I can get almost all I need on the web.  I research every home thoroughly before hitting the road and that saves a lot of time and money.  My clients know I am doing the research as we actually discuss the homes they have selected.  They get a complete home search sheet with each visit for info and notes.  These folders help keep them organized and they always have my information.  Don't be a "pop corn" agent and just jump when the phone rings.  Do the home work and save time and money.

Posted by Ric Mills, Integrity, Honesty, and Vast Real Estate Knowledge (Keller Williams Southern Az) about 9 years ago

Previewing isn't very common around here. Our listings very rarely get previewed. We have done in our farming area before, mostly to look at listing comps.

Posted by The Derrick Team - Indy Metro Realtors, Your Pet Friendly Realtors (Carpenter Realtors) about 9 years ago

You would think that was very practical info for the agent to know, but it isn't!  Thanks for reminding them!

We here in Manhattan cannot preview properties because we do not have a lock box system and one would have to make an appt with the selling broker to get in.  Needless to say, if they found out it was for a preview, your head would get chopped off.  You can only make an appt with a client.

Posted by Jennifer Chiongbian, Real Estate Broker - NYC (Specializing in all types of Manhattan apts & townhouses) about 9 years ago

You've got to be kidding! What nonsense & here's why. Previewing is deciding before hand what the buyer is interested in. I think after an initial interview you should point out flaws in a homes design that not might work.  Showing a split level when the buyers want no stairs, etc.  Let the buyer make their own determination! If you look like an idiot because you can't find the lockbox, so be it! Hey, nothing runs like Timex as they say all the time.

I actually think that showing a home that's a wreck gives the buyer perspective when they do see a gem.

Go on tour so you know your market like you should.

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) about 9 years ago

Brian, Thanks for the reminder and great tips.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) about 9 years ago

I guess it depends on your level of experience. I've sold 300+ properties to Buyers, and I've probably shown at least 30 times that many. I've done DD and researched comps in depth on at least 2500 properties in my area, yet there are still neighborhoods and communities I show in for the first time every month. I can become a "15 minute expert" on any neighborhood in Colorado, just give me a computer and an MLS connection. Isnt that what we do when we BPO properties anyway? If a Buyer or prospect calls me with questions on somewhere that I dont know off of the top of my head, of havent been in that area recently, I can get back to them with a qualified, expert, opinion in under a half hour ~ almost every time.

#1) Become an expert on using the MLS, it is a phenomenal tool. That is what it is there for.

#2) Get out and show property, preview if you have time. Nothing beats HumInt. Eyes on the ground are worth a million analysts back at the office.



Posted by Jayson Holland, Jay Holland ( about 9 years ago
I stay so busy that there is just not time to preview. However I have already shown many of the homes on the market on my area.
Posted by Alan Grizzle, Full Time Realtor, Lifelong Resident of Dahlonega (Chestatee Real Estate) about 9 years ago
I have to disagree with Lyn. Previewing is a great way to prepare for that meeting, not to bias the client but to be prepared for any questions that may come up. Anyone who as taken a sign or floor call knows that prospects expect you to have all of the answers about the property they're interested in whether they are your listings or not.
Posted by Joshua Stein, Homes For Sale - Montgomery County (Coldwell Banker Preferred - Conshohocken) about 9 years ago

It depends on the agent and their knowledge of the their market area, doesn't it? Most agents are so eager to sell anything that makes money regardless of the area or neighborhood, yet some are concerned about their clients and should determine if the opportunity to represent them is appropriate and reasonable. If not, referring them to another agency or agent might be a better option. I always preview areas or neighborhoods that I'm not familiar with and will cruise those areas when I'm out and about. 

Posted by Kimo Jarrett, Pro Lifestyle Solutions (WikiWiki Realty) about 9 years ago

Previewing would be a great service, but I generally only do it for out of town buyers.  I had a couple from Georgia buy a home sight unseen based on my observations.

I do think about the sellers as well when I am previewing.  They are basically doing 2 showings for my clients.

Posted by The Hollinden Team, Serving the Greater Louisville area (EXP Realty) about 9 years ago


Previewing makes lots of sense, for all the reasons you outline. BUt often time simply does not permit, especially with the distances we often have between communities here in SoCal. If I can plan ahead I will preview, adn do a fair amount of that for out of town buyers. And I have found some sellers are not happy when you come to preview a property without any buyers in tow.

I also suggest that buyers explore areas themselves, and drive by homes before we go to see to make sure they really want to see them, considering location, traffic, noise, views, and the overall neighborhood. Sometimes what loks and sounds great in the MLS is not at all what the buyers want.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (eXp Realty of California, Inc.) about 9 years ago

Leslie, with the advent of today's technology, we do get more information without physically visiting properties.  As you said, though, even if we're going slightly out of our regular areas, it can help to locate relevant local facilities.

Ellen, GPS has been a godsend!

Roger, I think clients can tell when you're at ease, and they'll put more trust in you.

Hi Jennifer, thanks for stopping by!

Hi Erica - that's good advice for your agents!

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

Peggy, Google Street maps of the surrounding area and buildings can make a big difference.

Hi Patricia - I was a Boy Scout, so being prepared was drilled into me!

Corinne, my primary objective was to make consumers aware that there can be a range between how prepared different agents may be when they show properties.  I discovered this as a consumer myself long before I had a license.  I'm sure that you and many other good agents already have a great deal of knowledge of local homes with or without a preview.

Anthony, that's another aspect of the 80-20 rule!

Donald - exactly.

Joan, I encourage clients to go to open houses, too - and to let the open house agent know that they are working with me.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

Hi Michelle - that sounds like a perfectly sound business model.

Barbara, that's a great story!  Sometimes we have an instinct that a home will really fit our buyers, even if it's not exactly what they expected.

Wandanna,  a buyer consultation is really important.

Luis, you obviously know the dynamics of your area.

John, surprises are something I don't like in real estate!

Melody, I'm in total agreement.

Stephen, I agree!

Gabe, true, sometimes buyers need to see both the good and the bad to focus themselves.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

Dawn - true!

Jay, your comment illustrates that the best results come from a cooperation and collaboration between buyers and agent as a team.

Hi Michael, thanks for stopping by.


Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

Randy & Nancy, when we feel that what we do is just a rote job, we lose enthusiasm and value to our clients.  How we prepare for showings depends on many factors.  It's not necessary to do everything for every showing.

Chiara, investors most definitely do see properties in a completely different way than owner occupants.

Lexie, yes, having a trailer next door is something I think most buyers would want to know about!

Rob, embarassment is something to be avoided, lol!  Nice Vette, btw - 1962?

Judi, if you already know the floor plan, you're ahead of the game.

Linda, you're right, showing instructions are sometimes surprisingly inadequate or inaccurate.

Gene, good for you for taking the extra effort!

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

Ric, there's an old carpenters' saying, "Measure twice, cut once."  I'm sure the research you do beforhand makes you more effective.

The Derrick Team - my listings rarely got previewed either, but I was impressed by agents who wanted to do so.

Jennifer, Manhattan seems to be quite different from other real estate markets.

Lyn, I disagree.  Previewing is not for eliminating properties without the buyer's approval.  It's for being able to provide a buyer with MORE information, not less.

Hi Gita, thanks for commenting.

Jayson, I can't disagree with anything you said.

Alan, if you already have the expertise, no problem.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

Joshua, thanks for your support - see my own reply to Lyn.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

Not only do I not have the luxury of extra time to preview properties before seeing them with my buyer, I will not take the responsibility of ruling out a home for my buyers, no matter how much I think I know what they want.  As others have said, many buyers do not give me enough time to preview for them, I have to constantly remind buyers that I need to set up routes and appointments and that not all listings are vacant. 

Besides that, I think it is a time and gas waster.  Because I am busy I have shown many homes to more than one buyer.  I know the areas I work in well.  I tried to tell a buyer I worked with yesterday that one of the homes she chose was on a busy street (because of my area knowledge) and she still wanted to see it.

Posted by Judy Orr, SW & Near West Chicago suburbs (HomeSmart Realty Group) about 9 years ago

I think the best thing we can do for our buyers is be prepared. Know the home, know the neighborhood, builder if it is newer constructions, know where the schools are, grocery stores, etc.

Posted by Liane Thomas, Top Listing Agent, Bringing you Home! (Professional Realty Services®) about 9 years ago

Buyers change their minds too often and of course it will be right after I have previewed a few homes.

My GPS gets me to to the property so there are no routing issues. I don't have time to preview except in very unusual circumstances.

Posted by Patty Clark, Helping Families Move with Care (Morningside Homes, LLC 720-231-5200) about 9 years ago

Kimo, it truly does depend on the agent and his/her knowledge of the area.

Steve, I have heard of buyers buying a property unseen based on their agent's recommendation.  It's great that some clients and agents have developed such a trusting relationship.

Hi Jeff - I always encourage my buyers to look around neighborhoods of properties that they have found or that I have sent them.  Then when they ask for a showing we both have the advantage  that we're not wasting time with inappropriate homes.  It also saves me from being an unpaid chauffeur.

Judy, I understand what you're saying.  I just tell buyers what they need to know.  Then they can exercise their own judgment.

Liane, being prepared is the key.  For different agents, that can mean different things.

Chris & Patty, I recently previewed two homes 30 miles away; then the buyers cancelled!


Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

Most of the time my schedule does not allow me to do this. But I do preview homes on brokers tour, so I often have seen the houses before. And I use Route4Me on my IPad. It maps out the most efficient way to view, and that saves me lots of time.

Posted by Karen Crowson, Your Agent for Change (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) about 9 years ago

Karen, I'm glad the tour works for you.  I think brokers tours are a good policy for smaller agencies and smaller areas.  Both my area and my office are fairly large, so I never much cared for the amount of time broker tours take.  I felt my time was better utilized previewing homes and neighborhoods that specific buyers had asked to see.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

The difference is always in the details. The more prepared agents will always stand out as more effective and professional than those who are not. I always tried to be prepared as possible, but struggle to find time to preview on a regular basis. I hope to spend more time preparing in this way moving forward. Thanks for the suggestions!

Posted by Kyle Pfaffe (Hellman Stribling) about 9 years ago

In a perfect world, previewing makes sense.  That being said, it doesn't often work in our market.  We don't have a MLS.  We don't use lockboxes.  Listings agents (or their team) pesonally accomodate every single showing request.  In that environment listing agents are often only willing to show 1) at the open house; or 2) at a privately scheduled appointment with the name and qualifications of your buyer provided in advance.  

Posted by Kate Akerly, Manhattan Beach Residential Sales (Kaminsky Group) about 9 years ago

Hi Brian,  excellent point.  I showed one of my listings the other day that I have had for a long time (short sale).  I did not prepare and was embarassed when I could not answer some basic questions.

Posted by Bob Miller, The Ocala Dream Team (Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty) about 9 years ago

Kyle, as it happens, I've used the slogan  "The Details Make the Difference" for years.


Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

Mike & Kate - as I replied to Jennifer #80, Manhattan seems to be a unique market.  Without an MLS, where do you find available listings for your buyers?  Networking with other agents?  Do you have to search the same ads as the buyers do?

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

Bob - exactly - we all want to avoid such embarassing situations.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

A lot of times I get a call from a buyer that wants to see the home within the hour.  It is hard to preview most of the homes my buyers want to see.  What I have been trying to do is to keep up on the market and when I see homes that may be of interest in my market, I try to preview them right when they are newly listed.

Posted by Jim Linaburg (Hayes Realty) about 9 years ago

In a perfect world this would be great to be able to preview the homes before the showings.  However with both time constraints and today the cost of gasoline is it really prudent? The only advantage is that you can shorten your showing list if you are really in tune with your buyers.

Posted by Bill Morrow, Bill Morrow, Associate Broker (Keller Williams of Central PA) about 9 years ago

Hi Brian,  It certainly depends on how busy I am, but it also depends on the client.  I have some that only want to see the best and I definitely preview for them.  Then there are those that want to see everything even if you are sure they won't like it.  I don't preview for them until they get more serious.  Nice post.

Posted by Debora Nichols, Realtor Anthem,Phoenix,Scottsdale,Glendale,Peoria (Residential Sales, Purchases, Investors, Vacation Homes) about 9 years ago

With my rural market covering more than 1500sq miles - previewing is not always feasible.  However, I always come prepared, with a well thought out route (including stops for food) and full details on each property.

Posted by Jeanne Dufort, Madison and Lake Oconee GA (Coldwell Banker Lake Country) about 9 years ago

Better yet, the listing agent should accompany all showings to not only ensure that a consistent message on behalf of the seller is being conveyed, but to also educate both buyers agent and prospective buyers.

Posted by Martin Kalisker, Professional Standards & Legal Assistant (Greater Boston Association of REALTORS) about 9 years ago

Jim, I don't know about you, but my experience with new buyers who demand to see a property within the hour never buy that property.

Bill, you do have to take the cost of gasoline into consideration.  It's a balancing act.

Debora, we difinitely have to take the personalities of our prospects and clients into consideration when we decide how much detail to prepare in advance.

Jeanne, we all have to make our own decisions based on our areas and markets.

Synergy - I'm not sure I like the idea of the listing agent being along in most cases.  They tend to inhibit conversation between buyer and BA.  However, in some cases where the property is unique or complex, it's nice to have the LA as a guide.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

When practical it totally makes sense.  We are in a second home market and if a hot property hits the market that is an exceptional value then by all means, preview it within a day of when it lists, because most of our buyers are out of town and if they want a chance to buy they may need to write sight unseen. (This only works with clients who you've toured with previously.)  We will preview with video for these serious clients and make them come up before the inspections happen.  In regards to previewing specific homes for a first outing with clients, it is not time well spent because they are just learning the market and you must educate them on the area, the market and the liefstyle of second home ownership.  Often times the direction they request changes in that outing.  Having a good sense of the market is an everyday job and not one you do just for showing property.  You must be prepared to educate clients on every occaision whether it is on the phone or in person.  If a property is a dog and a propsective client calls about that one, tell them it's a dog and why it's a dog.  If they call about a hot property be bold and ask them how soon they will be coming up to look at homes and if it's a few weeks out, tell them that they will miss this one and that you'll be happy to share the sold statistics about that home when it sells.  Be honest and relevant.  Be the expert!

Posted by Bruce & Sandy Soli, Tahoe Lifestyle Experts (Sierra Sotheby's International Realty) about 9 years ago

Bruce & Sandy, well stated.  My area of Lancaster County PA is probably a medium area when it comes to "hotness" these days - neither a depressed market nor a boom market.  In a hot market, buyers and agents may have to move quickly without taking extra steps.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

It is definitely a plus if you are able to view properties.  However, it is very time consuming and depending on how far apart the homes are it can be very costly on fuel.

Posted by Rocky Dole (Revelation Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Rocky, I totally agree on both the plusses and the minuses.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

Previewing homes is an important service for a Buyer's agent. I strongly agree, great post!

Posted by Sylvie Stuart, Home Buying, Home Selling and Investment - Flagsta (Realty One Group Mountain Desert 928-600-2765) about 9 years ago

Being "directionally challenged", it helps to preview, plus I don't have to beat the bushes for the lockbox.  If it's a hot property though, best to not to let the moss grow under your feet.  

Posted by Sheila Lawrence, Love where you live! (Coldwell Banker, Sebastopol, CA) about 9 years ago

Sylvie, thanks for stopping by!

Sheila, I agree on both your points.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

Brian, great points which I do about 50% of the time. Coordination is the key and the route is very important to save embarrassment. We have a great system which you may have as well where you can map your listings on one sheet. They are numbered and/or labeled for easy navigation.

Posted by Winston Heverly, GRI, ABR, SFR, CDPE, CIAS, PA (Winston Realty, Inc.) about 9 years ago

Winston, your program sounds handy.  I use a combination of GPS & GoogleMaps as necessary.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

Buyers often wonder why I can't just "pick them up on the strip in an hour" without any warning.  I carefully plan and research my showings so I don't work with unprepared buyers ever!

Posted by Renée Donohue~Home Photography, Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer (Savvy Home Pix) about 9 years ago

Renee, that's a good way to describe them - "unprepared buyers" - with no consideration for the time and value of the agent they are calling without sufficient notice.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

There is no way to do that on most properties here, nor a reason too - especially since we have so many distressed properties that get a bunch of offers at once.  It's better to get to the house quickly for a better chance to get into it.  Many of my buyers drive by the house first to decide if they like it.  But my market area is not large enough that I am unfamiliar with areas.  -Kasey

Posted by Kasey & John Boles, Boise & Meridian, ID Ada/Canyon/Gem/Boise Counties (Jon Gosche Real Estate, LLC - about 9 years ago

Kasey & John, as we know, all real estate is local.  There is no solution that fits all markets.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) about 9 years ago

good advice

Posted by Dale Taylor, Realtor = Chicago Illinois Homes Townhomes Condos (Re/Max 10 New Lenox Illinois) about 9 years ago

It's certainly a great idea to preview homes before showings, but it's unrealistic for most top producing agents unless they specialize in luxury homes.  I'm a very busy agent, and barely have time to squeeze in everything else I need to do, much less looking at every home BEFORE I show it to the buyer.  It's also unnecessary in most cases in the lower end (under $200k) as every house is almost identical.  After 10 years of showing houses, when they ask me what is behind "this door" I always know based on the location in the house...broom closet, half bath, linen closet, laundry room, etc.

If it's over $500k or so, I will usually try and preview.  Otherwise, it's just too time consuming, and usually not necessary.  If a buyer's agent is so inept that they would lose a buyer over needing to look around for the lockbox on a water spiggot or fence post, they need to work on their people skills a little bit.

Posted by Matt Robinson, (Professional Investors Guild) over 8 years ago

Matt, apparently you are fortunate to be a busy agent in a market above $200k homes.  Your point is well taken.   However, I happen to have been in this business for 30 years and my people skills are just fine.  In the lower priced older homes in my area (below $100k) it's not only a question of finding lockboxes - you can't always count on ancient locks to function as they should.

Nonetheless, I never said all agents need to previow homes.  I said there are advantages to doing so.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 8 years ago