Updated: Sep 3
In this article, I wanted to share some important elements of expeditious showings to buyers, a critical tool in a buyer's belt for getting under contract on the best house for them available when they're looking.
Importance of expeditious showings
The importance of expeditious showings is hard to underemphasize. I’ve seen where a buyer I was representing got in quickly on a home that had just hit the market in a hot market and was able to get under contract (with closing cost assistance even) before a cash buyer made a much stronger offer too late. While it impacted what the seller was willing to do when it came time for the home inspection, the buyer was very glad to get their offer in first. With the median days on market being as low as they are, sometimes properties go under contract very quickly, & the best properties go under contract typically below the median time on market at any given time.
How to expedite time between a property hitting the market and your showing
A. It's important to not just "browse" for potential properties, but to create a search with automated updates as properties hit the market. You'll waste a lot less time that way and optimize your ability to quickly respond as properties hit the market. Your agent can help you with that as long as they have access to the primary MLS of the areas you are looking in & the property type (i.e. single family residential). In the case of commercial & 4+ multi-family units, sometimes, such as in South East Virginia, the primary location of properties is a public one where your agent should be able to show you how to create a search yourself. If you're working with me, we can do that in person or over Zoom using the screen share feature & even the remote desktop feature if desired. If you find yourself going outside of the search for properties that are present on the same MLS where you're getting a search feed, be sure to request revisions to your search to include properties like the ones you are looking up outside of the search as long as you're weeding through 20-50 properties total.
B. For any buyers where there isn't a built in option with their search platform(s) to get text alerts of new properties hitting the market, I highly suggest that you setup the email to text option, which is one of the best ways to keep on top of showings soon after listing.
C. Letting your agent know via text as soon as you are able following an email (or text) will get you the best chances of a showing before a property is under contract. In Matrix, the portal used by REIN MLS, email updates can be asap, daily, 2x/day, certain days each week (1x or 2x), or monthly. I recommend asap if you're actively searching. If you don’t do asap, you’ll miss out on some properties since some properties go under contract <12 hrs from the time they’re input into MLS, especially if in a multiple offer situation and a buyer with a strong offer sets a tight deadline.
If a property comes up that you'd like to see, it's best to text me regarding a showing there or if you have any questions. If texting isn't an option, email firstname.lastname@example.org for it to go to my texts. Be sure to CC email@example.com .
D. If you don't have an active buyer brokerage agreement, to expedite things further, we can have a buyer brokerage agreement set up in advance of you having a property or properties in mind since a buyer brokerage agreement will be needed (in VA under most circumstances where I am representing a buyer). While not typical with most agents & not possible with some whole agencies, I allow exclusive or non-exclusive option (though the latter is still discouraged by my brokerage). I don’t charge a transaction coordinator fee like some agents do. It’s also a good idea to keep the buyer brokerage from expiring, since if it expires, a new agreement will be required while if you keep it from expiring all that’s needed are initials on the existing form, requiring less time for buyer & for agent.
E. Ensure that the spelling etc. of the listings that you send to your agent are accurate. If you didn't find the property on the MLS feed of your agent, be sure to let them know where you found it. If it takes an agent extra time to find the listing, that time could mean the difference of whether or not you are able to see it, especially if the agent has a busy schedule and is looking to locate the property or properties within a <5 minute timeframe between appointments.
When do the most listings hit the market?
It’s helpful to know that most properties hit the market Monday-Friday, with Mondays and Thursdays (excluding federal holidays) being the biggest days. The least properties hit the market on Sundays (only 1/47th of properties on a 5 week sample I checked), with the next lowest day being Saturday (1/20th in the same sample). Because of that, it’s critical to be checking properties hitting the market during the week when the most listings are hitting the market.
It's also helpful to know that the least properties hit the market in REIN MLS (the primary MLS of Hampton Roads) in December, while the most hit the market typically any time between March and July.
You might think that the low volume of new listings in December spurs prices up, but it's actually the opposite, since demand is lower then, & December actually typically commands the lowest prices of the season, with most contracts taking 1 month from the time of contract to closing.
When are property listings least accurate?
The shorter the market time, the higher the probability that the property is under contract already with a buyer, excluding the 1st 12 hrs of listing. In some cases though, properties can go under contract in less than 12 hrs.
The lower the price-to-value ratio of the property, the higher the probability that it's already under contract.
5 PM-9 AM tends to be the least accurate time during Monday-Friday, with Saturdays and especially Sundays being the least accurate times all week as long as the property didn't hit the market less than 12 hrs ago.
Popular holidays, especially Christmas and Thanksgiving, & especially if Christmas falls on a Saturday or Sunday.
Relevant Contract/MLS Basics to Know
Contracts won't be updated immediately in MLS after they go under contract. In the case of REIN MLS, the primary MLS of Hampton Roads, listings have 2 business days to be updated following contract ratification, which excludes Saturday & Sunday. With that said, a property could go under contract on a Friday morning, with a federal holiday on Monday, and not be updated in MLS until Wednesday at 11:59 PM without receiving a fine if the agent has MLS input rights.
Not all agents have MLS input rights. At some firms, like Garrett Realty Partners, most agents don't have MLS input rights, and an MLS coordinator, who works typically 9-5 M-F, inputs listings & changes (i.e. changing the property from active to pending) into MLS.
Sometimes there will be "verbal agreement" between buyer and seller before a property is under a written contract.
Sometimes a property will require 24 hr or even 48 hr notice before it's available for showing, and in more unusual cases, it can't be shown at all.
In some cases, there will be a gap between when showings are allowed and when the seller will make a decision.
In some cases, a deadline is provided for offers, which is in some cases visible in the listing (typically only visible to agents if present). In other cases, no deadline will be present, but an offer could be accepted at any time. Even when there is a deadline, sometimes offers are accepted early.
Sometimes properties have back-to-back showings during showing windows for a day or more prior to an offer deadline.
Some MLS allow coming-soon listings, while others (i.e. REIN, the primary MLS of Hampton Roads), do not.
Importance of Expeditious Offers
Even if you complete a showing quickly, that won't mean that you'll be able to get a home if your expeditious showing isn't accompanied by an expeditious offer. Even with an expeditious showing and an expeditious offer, there's no guarantee you'll win an offer, but the start of a successful offer is both in an expeditious showing and an expeditious offer. Making an expeditious offer means you'll be more likely to win in a competing offer scenario or prevent a competing offer scenario. In order to reduce the time in between when you see a property and when you make an offer, it's a good idea to at least start reviewing some items & have some things ready before showings.
Here are further details on expeditious offers.