Pat Kennedy - Your Washington, DC Real Estate Connection


How I Prepare For A First Showing Appointment: By Previewing

This weekend, I'll be showing property to a new client.  We met a few weeks ago at an Open House, and I have a pretty good idea of what will work for her.  Between the two of us, there are about thirty houses that are on the Perhaps List, judging solely from the MRIS informaiton.

And I should mention that, while this is a pretty close-in neighborhood, I don't really know it like the back of my hand. 

So this week, I'll be doing a bunch of high energy previewing, which makes sense because I'm actually getting a couple of more possibilities for the same area and price range.

Today, I began my aerobic previewing, blasting through a bunch of houses.  And at one of them, I ran into another agent who was sitting on a chair in the living room waiting for buyers to show up.

When he saw my come in without an entourage, he looked puzzled.

"Oh, I'm alone right now.  I'm just previewing the place."

"Huh?  Previewing?  Um, I'm new.  What's that?  Why would you look at a place without your buyers with you?"

OK, call me old-fashioned. 

I'm going to have about four hours with the buyer, and I want to show her stuff that is the best of.  I completely ruled out four of the eight places I looked at.  They were some combination of too thin at the elbows, too small, too big, or bathroom impaired. 

But can't you just look  at the photos on MRIS?  Sure you can!  And Google Earth while you're at it. 

The four places I ruled out had extensive deferred maintenance that was Photoshopped out of the tour photos.  One was sitting between two Hoarder Houses that probably had bedbugs.  One had a basement with a ceiling height of about four and a half feet. 

If a buyer expresses clearly very definite criterea, and if you then show her a bunch of places that don't come close, you create a credibility gap.  This woman was very clear about what she wanted, and I'm very clear that that's what I want to show her. 

In the opening scene of Meridith Wilson's The Music Man they sing "Rock Island", a song about salesmen.  There is this one line, where they are talking about Professor Harold Hill, the infamous traveling musical instrument salesman, and throughout the song, one of the guys keeps repeating, "He doesn't know the territory!" 

So, I guess my question is, can you really know the territory if you are seeing the houses you show for the first time - with your buyers?


Comment balloon 47 commentsPatricia Kennedy • December 13 2010 11:13PM


I do a lot of previewing because I definitely want to know the territory.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) over 9 years ago

Hi Pat... I don't consider previewing old fashioned.  I consider it the sign of a competent real estate professional.  Good for you!

Posted by Steve Shatsky over 9 years ago

I have pre-viewed SEVERAL times....with all of the staging for photos, and other craziness out there, it is better to be safe then sorry!

Posted by Angelina Clarke (Builder Services Realty, LLC) over 9 years ago

very good points, thank your for this it remonds me of the type of people I want to work with

Posted by Ken's Home Team LLC. | 360.609.0226 | Portland, OR & Vancouver, WA Real Estate Team, - SOLD IS OUR FAVORITE 4 LETTER WORD - (Ken's Home Team LLC.) over 9 years ago

I definitely preview the neighborhood, even if it is a quick drive-by.

The last thing you want is to be tinkering with the GPS trying to figure out where you are.

Posted by Fred Griffin Tallahassee Real Estate, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker (Fred Griffin Real Estate) over 9 years ago

If its possible I try to do preview of the property but in most cases it just not possible.

Posted by Andrzej Niemyjski (Realty One Group) over 9 years ago

Pat- I was a Realtor for about a year many, many, many years ago.  I was very fortunate to have a seasoned Realtor take me under her wings and show me the ropes.  We were always previewing new listings in our area and she taught me the value of previewing before working with clients.  That's not old fashioned at all... it's being a professional at what you do. Good for you.

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 9 years ago

Pat, that is great! I found myself bobbing my head as I listened & watched.  :)  You must know the territory! Great job by you, for previewing on behalf of your clients!

Posted by Don Wixom, "Looking out for your next move..."tm (RE/MAX Executives Nampa, ID) over 9 years ago
Pat, The way I look at it, you prepare well enough that there should not be any trouble in Rivercity
Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 9 years ago

It is always frustrating to me when agents don't want a preview of their listing.  I don't know if it happens in other parts of the country but here too many sellers and their agents don't want to bother with a showing until your client is with you.  I don't get it. 

Posted by Maureen Fukumoto, Maureen (Help-U-Sell Realty Pro) over 9 years ago

Pat, we preview constantly regardless of whether we have a buyer or not.  I agree with you that it does not reflect well to show a buyer the wrong homes if they've been clear about their criteria.  I do agree with Maureen, we encounter a lot of resistance from agents if we don't have a buyer with us... I've been told to check the pictures on the MLS... Great post, enjoyable read. 

Posted by Ellie Penaranda, Naples Florida Real Estate - Waterfront & Beach Co (239.776.5077 Downing-Frye Realty ) over 9 years ago

Objecting to previews is a sign the listing agent and/or the seller are not serious.

Posted by Jim Hale, Eugene Oregon's Best Home Search Website (ACTIONAGENTS.NET) over 9 years ago

I try to preview in my town, but if a buyer pulls me through 5 neighboring towns to see property, there is no way I can do that.   Then I shop by asking the listing agent questions on the phone.

Posted by Dagny Eason, Fairfield County CT, CDPE Homes For Sale and Condo (Dagny's Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Great points Patricia!

Posted by Joshua Zargari, MJ Decorators Workshop (MJ Decorators Workshop LI staging and home decorating) over 9 years ago

Pat, I do the same thing if I don't know the house. I am going to preview one house this afternoon as a matter of fact. Previewing here can be a long process, New Milford is 64 square miles of country roads, then the others added in.. well.. but that is my job!

On the flip side of the coin, I have had a few listings where I always asked the agent if they had seen the home when they would call for an appointment. Both homes I can think of off the top of my head needed serious work, serious. Both were located in a luxury market town. I did not photo shop the photos, and I was very clear in the listing. But no matter.... many out of area agents either didn't look at the photos, didn't read the listing or both. Only saw the price in this particular town! If they hadn't, I would go into great detail with them. Much to their disliking. But that still didn't stop some, and boy were their clients disappointed. I had to be there for the showings on both these homes, and I can tell you, they had egg on their faces if they didn't listen to me and explain to their clients. (I heard one set exclaim on their way out the door to their agent, "why didn't you tell us this was such a dog", I chimed in, "what did you expect for this price in this town? I certainly told your agent before we all dragged ourselves over here".... couldn't help myself.)

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) over 9 years ago

What's also frustrating is listing agents that say their seller is extremely busy, and it would be best to just schedule an appointment when you've got your clients with you!  Believe it or not, it's happened to me!

Posted by Laura Giannotta, Your Realtor Down the Shore! (Keller Williams Realty - Atlantic Shore ) over 9 years ago
Pat, it's amazing how many agents don't preview and waste their valuable time & the clients...great post.
Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in Southern RI and beyond (RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Pat - This is a good example of providing outstanding client service. You also become very aware of what is available and what might make a good match for future clients. It is very difficult to judge condition, location and value from the photos and descriptions on the MLS. If time doesn't allow previewing, that is one thing. This is a good practice, not an old fashioned one.

Posted by Judy Jennings, Broker - The Lanterns at Warren Woods - Ashland MA (The Green Company) over 9 years ago

Good morning Pat,

Previewing is a great way to give you the edge you need to really know your inventory. I consider previewing a must in our market are saving valuable time for you and your buyer when trying to make a decision. Love the video! A suggest on this post.

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899) over 9 years ago

Great points, Pat. Especially in a neighborhood that you don't go in and out of every day, it can be an invaluable technique.

Posted by Holly Weatherwax, A Great Real Estate Experience ( Associate Broker, Momentum Realty) over 9 years ago

You are the master Pat.. .and all agents should learn. Previewing for your clients is well advised

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) over 9 years ago

Pat - Previewing is a huge part of my job!!! This is especially true with a new client or one that has a very narrow focus. Lastly, I learned a new market this Fall by previewing close to 25 homes for an out of town client. They ended up buying and now I have a good knowledge of this new territory.


Happy holidays!


Posted by Betsy Schuman Dodek, (Washington Fine Properties - Washington DC Area Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Having moved to a new area, I didn't know it like the back of my hand. So, like you, Pat, previews were ultra-important.  Yes, time consuming but the right thing to do!

Posted by Irene Kennedy Realtor® in Northwestern NJ (Weichert) over 9 years ago

Bummer you should actually pay attention to the market and informing yourself prior to trying to inform your clients...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 9 years ago
Pat - Any agent that has been in this business for a while knows that previewing properties is part of the job description! I also do video clips for out of state clients so they have an idea as to whether or not to fly in to see the property in question.
Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) over 9 years ago

I've done it for certain clients, but not all. (I always make sure to write 'preview' on the back of my card when I leave it). You probably gave this new agent a bit of an education.  All these little nuances.....the stuff they don't teach in real estate courses!

Posted by Karen Crowson, Your Agent for Change (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 9 years ago
I've always been a previewer. I love the new term that you coined: "aerobic previewing". However, then you say that you blast through a bunch of houses, which seems more anaerobic - like a sprint. I prefer taking my time when previewing so I can take notes and actually remember what I have seen. I consider previewing to be a run of miles, rather than a 100 yard dash. Not as long as a marathon, but a daily long-distance run, where you get in your regular "aerobic previewing". I love this post!
Posted by Bob Willis, Orange County & L.A. County Real Estate Agent (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties) over 9 years ago

Pat- I do the same thing, whenever practical. I also preview for listing appointments. However, don't think I'll ever do the aerobic preview.... but I get what you mean!

Posted by Pam Sitterly, CRS Magnolia-Tomball Texas (RE/MAX VINTAGE) over 9 years ago

I think this is a great idea especially for those clients who come from out of town and have limited time.  Weeds out the crud before hand.

Posted by Paula McDonald, Ph.D., Granbury, TX 936-203-0279 (Beam & Branch Realty) over 9 years ago

Reading the book, watching the tutorial always a good idea before the test. It is neat to have a broker representing a buyer who actually knows more than the broker/agent in so many cases.

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) over 9 years ago

I can count on one hand, how many times my listings have been previewed in the last year. There is no excuse not to "know your Territory".

Posted by Renée Montgomery, Northern Virginia Real Estate (Century 21 New Millennium) over 9 years ago

Pat ~ sometimes previewing needs to be done.  I don't do it all the time, though.

Posted by Dawn A Fabiszak, The Dawn of a New Real Estate Experience! (Private Label Realty ( Denver metro area, Colorado) over 9 years ago

Hi Pat -- I agree in theory, but I think the buyer has to have pretty rigid criteria in order for this to work, but for buyers pressed for time, especially relo buyers, this can help.

Posted by Chris Olsen, Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate (Olsen Ziegler Realty) over 9 years ago

Hi Pat - Previewing is a great way to learn the local inventory, even if the particular property is ruled out for not meeting a particular client's requirements.

Posted by FN LN over 9 years ago

interesting post and a lot of rad. I really enjoyed the video and thanks for sharing it.

Drivers Ed | Adult Driver Education

Posted by David over 9 years ago

Previewing empty homes that have a lockbox is easy. It's harder for listing agents to get their sellers ready for innumerable "previews" where there is not a specific buyer in mind. Staging a brokers open or including it in a caravan is helpful in this case. Usually I have found that agents will bring their first buyer without previewing it, then bring other buyers later if they, the agent liked the property.

Posted by Hella Mitschke Rothwell, Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker ((831) 626-4000) over 9 years ago

Previewing is a good practice. You can not only pick out the ones that fit the buyers criteria but you can choose the way you would like to take your tour. If they have children you can figure out bus stops , etc. I also appreciate getting the listing agent's opinion of the home and  to point out anything that might not be obvious.

Posted by Robin Risley, CRS, GRI, Principal Broker (Kamali Sotheby's International Realty) over 9 years ago

That's interesting and creates credibility. We do House Tour on Tuesdays to view all the new Office listings. This goes a long way, too.

Posted by Cheryl Ritchie, Southern Maryland 301-980-7566 (RE/MAX Leading Edge over 9 years ago

Can you truthfully say “The four places I ruled out had extensive deferred maintenance that was Photoshopped out of the tour photos”? I think that would be fraudulent, and I hope that FOUR AGENTS in your area would not be up to being fraudulent. Of course, we are talking about an area inhabited by politicians…., but still that would be a lot of agents! Maybe the properties have simply deteriorated between when the photos were taken and now. That happens quite often here. Fortunately we don't also have winter snow photos that show spring flowers.  ☺♪♫♫♪

Posted by Jim Frimmer, Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist (HomeSmart Realty West) over 9 years ago

Previewing is nearly a lost art, but those of us who learned the business before online listings with 30 photos DO remember the importance.  Throughout most of my career, I spent at least two mornings of my week previewing new listings in my target market, even when I didn't have a "now" client for them.  It really helped me to learn and know my available inventory and made showing "on target"when I had a client.

Posted by Margaret Woda, Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Previewing is an excellent practice. It's kind of like studying before a test.

Posted by Aaron Seekford, Ranked Top 1% Nationwide 703-836-6116 (Arlington Realty, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Previewing is the only way to go, especially if you are in an area where you don't regularly show.  It saves time and prevents those awkward moments when you can't find the lockbox because the agent hung it in the tree, or the sticky front door lock or the Doberman in the backyard.  Know what you are showing.

Posted by Jeanne Gregory, RE/MAX Southwest over 9 years ago

Pat - this is defiantely the way to go with out of town clients that have a limited time to look at the multitude of houses on the market right now. Hope your showings go well...and end with an offer.

Posted by Larry Atkins (State Wide Realty Co.) over 9 years ago

This is an excellent case in point supporting previewing!  As agents we naturally "photoshop" out the flawed portions of the home to get buyers in the door.  We are very good at that....and you are right about your credibility points!  Showing only the houses that truly meet the buyer's criteria shows that you are respecting their time and shows that you are listening to what they are telling you.  Great discussion!

Posted by Karen Feltman, Relocation Specialist in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, IA KW Legacy Group) over 9 years ago

I rarely show a property without previewing it first.  I like to know the territory, the neighborhood and the comps.

Posted by Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities, Palos Verdes Luxury Homes in L.A. (Charlemagne International Properties) over 9 years ago

Go ahead...share our secrets.......maybe the rest of the folks will catch on that it is our job to know the homes we for sale or rent...i should tell you the story about the preview i did out in frederick county.....empty nipping at my heels....sound of round being chambered in shotgun...that was a preview i wont forget

Posted by John MacArthur, Licensed Maryland/DC Realtor, Metro DC Homes (Century 21 Redwood) over 9 years ago

Pat - excellent advice. I try to preview as much as possible, even more importantly when I am less familiar with the area and where there are certain specific ocean views (which can vary tremendously).And how embarassing to take a buyer to a home you have not seen only to be totally dismayed and feel it was a waste  of time.

Of course it's a good way to build up a list of things to talk about or to share with other new buyers who come along. And how nice to tell a new buyer about a house or two you think could work for them. It shows you know the market.


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