As a seller, showings can be very inconvenient. They are disruptive and can cause major schedule headaches. Below you will find a few thoughts on showings and how to help minimize your impact:
Showings are usually scheduled in 1 hour blocks. This is because agents are usually showing multiple houses in a tour arrangement. If your house is the 3rd house out of 5, they need some slack because it is very difficult to predict how long buyers are in each house. This does not mean you have to be out of the house for the full hour. Although it is better to be out of the house when they arrive, you can watch for them and leave just as they get there. Hopefully you are out the door before they pull up, but that's really hard to judge. Also note that if your house is in the middle of a tour, it is really hard to reschedule the other 5 houses because your timeframe is tight. Please try to be as accommodating as possible.
Most showings last 5 minutes to 15 minutes. If they really like the home, they may be there 30 minutes or even the full hour. If you get back and you see them in the house, just wait across the street. They will most likely be done in just a few minutes.
For lights in your house, expect some (or all) the lights to be left on. Most agents try to turn off lights as they go, but with 2-5 other people in tow, it sometimes is difficult to get all the lights off. Just take it as an expectation that lights may be left on. Sometimes it's hard to find all the light switches or to run around to each lamp to turn them off, especially when buyers are already walking out and heading to the car.
Be sure to leave a large entry floor mat just beside the door. This is because an agent that is showing the house may have 4 other people with them. They will all need a place to put shoes, especially if it is wet or snowy.
Second showings are very important. This is when a buyer really likes a house and is coming back again for another showing. They may be bringing along friends, or parents to view the house with them. In this case, it's important to be extra-prepared. If you have the chance, please turn on all the lights, bake a fresh batch of cookies or bread, allow them the full hour, etc. Let's make them feel as comfortable as possible. Usually a buyer has looked at 15-20 houses, and narrowed it down to 2. Then they may go back to those two with a second showing to view them again.
A preview is an agent looking at your house without bringing a buyer through. It could be that they have an out-of-town buyer and those buyers have very limited time when they are in town. It helps speed up their process to get some of the houses out of the way, and keep the best houses in on the short list.
Another reason agents preview is if they are listing a home soon themselves. It is a good idea to allow these to happen as well for two reasons. 1. When that agent has their home listed, they may run into buyers that may want to see your home and they will already have knowledge of it, and 2. other agents allowed us to preview for listing your home for sale. It helps all around to have previews.
When previews happen, you usually don't have to leave the house since it is only the agent with no client. It's ok to introduce yourself and cordially answer some questions. Just don't answer questions that may impact your position or give away your motivation.
Short notice showings are ones that are usually scheduled with less than a couple of hours notice. This can happen for several reasons. The most common reason is that an agent is out with their clients and they just happen to spot your home. They didn't initially set up the appointment because maybe it didn't meet their search criteria. But they are just outside the door and we want them to come in. This type of short notice showing will have very limited advance warning, usually 15 minutes or less.
Other types of short notice showings may happen with less than 2 hours of notice as well. This may be that a buyer wants to add your house to the tour of homes they have already scheduled. Or another house was suddenly unavailable in that specific time slot and they are trying to schedule a fill in.