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A helpful homeowner is cool, as long as he/she stays out of my way during showings.
When I list a Costa Rica home for sale, I always instruct the homeowner what to do and what not to do when we show their house to a prospect. At least I try to.
A homeowner in Costa Rica, no matter their nationality, will generally just instruct the housekeeper to let me in. This makes it much easier for the agent because you can ask her to switch on all the lights and make sure the clutter is gone. Then she can disappear into her room when you arrive with the buyer.
In Costa Rica, we usually set up several showings in a row. So the agent is not able to make sure the lights are on and the home is showable.
A “reminder” phone call 30 minutes before the showing is enough to make the house perfect for showing. This way, you won’t have any too helpful homeowner bothering the buyers and let me do my job.
A gringo home seller is different.
Most North American homeowners have carried a real estate license at one time in their life. So they know better than their agent what they’re doing, they say. It doesn’t really matter how many times you ask a gringo homeowner to not “be there”, “to walk the dog”, “to visit the neighbor”, “to play a round of golf” or “to go to the local bar and get drunk”, the average gringo owner wants to help.
I want to help
Ginny is a Gringa homeowner in Costa Rica. For some reason, she thinks a real estate agent cannot sell her house without her help. That’s what Ginny says, but her behavior is really all about control.
Ginny wants to control everything that is going on, as a good type A personality. From the moment the doorbell rings until right at the closing.
Let me play it out for you: so if you are a seller, you know what NOT to do. And if you are a buyer, you know what to expect. Right?
Ringing the bell
It starts when I ring the bell. You need to know that we don’t have lockboxes in Costa Rica. Therefore, we have to make a showing appointment for every single home. Someone has to be at home to open the door for us.
“Hello!!! I’m Ginny and this is my husband Memo. We all call him Memo here because Memo is easier for the help to pronounce than Bill. Come on in, please.
Where are you from? From Chicago? Oh my God, you know that Memo’s great-grandaunt had a boyfriend who also lived there?” Oh, and I used to play bridge back home with someone who was born and raised in Chicago!
“Well, I hope you love the neighborhood as much as we do. That was the main reason we bought this beautiful home because it is so close to our kid’s school, and the church as well. Would you like some coffee? I just finished baking a delicious chocolate cake; I’ve read somewhere that the smell of baking a cake helps sell the house.
Interfering real estate agent
“Ginny, would you mind leaving us, so I can show Marlene and John your lovely house?” Though we’d all love some coffee and cake, right now the timing is not good. We have other showing appointments lined up. The weather is great, why don’t you enjoy the weather on your porch while I show your house?”
Touring the house
While we’re going through the house, I can hear Ginny shout “Ivo, don’t forget to tell them about all the closet space we have! Oh and the double-height ceilings!”
Marlene tells me that she’s so glad I got rid of Ginny, she was afraid she’d join us on the grand tour. “It’s so hard to make any comments to John with that woman breathing down our neck. Thanks for telling her to get lost”.
Out of control
Of course, Ginny couldn’t hold herself in the yard for long. While we were just checking out the kitchen, she walked back in saying “did you see the huuuuge pantry? You can stick an elephant in there!”
“Ginnyyyyyyyyy, please, could you leave us alone for a while? Go sit outside with Memo please”.
“Just one last thing guys, don’t you think one of the bedrooms would make a lovely baby room, wouldn’t it? I’m sure you guys will soon have babies!”
Another lost buyer
Ginny didn’t know of course that, sadly enough, Marlene just lost a baby. They’re planning to try again, once she feels up to it. This comment worked as a slap in the face for Marlene though, who said “honey, let’s go, I’ve seen enough of this house”.
A true story
This is a true story, for those who wonder, even though Ginny could be Eva, Beth, or Suzanna. Marlene and John decided not to look for another house for quite a while. I lost track of them after a few years. But I decided right there and then, to change my strategy from then on. This is only one way of losing a good buyer, there are other ways.
When I make a listing appointment, I tell every seller to please stay out of my way. Do NOT be a helpful homeowner and let me do my job. Feel free to say hi at the door and then disappear. I’ll let you know when we are leaving.
If they interfere with my showing, they get a yellow card. The third yellow card automatically turns into a red card and I will de-list the property. I will never assist in the sale again and the property will be deleted from our websites.
Usually, we’ll never get past the 2nd yellow card. We either sell the house, or the seller learns to behave.
Are you a helpful Costa Rica homeowner, and do you want to sell your home? Are you looking for a knowledgeable and hard working real estate team? Then contact us now.
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