How Much Notice Should Sellers Request Before Showings?

When you put your home on the market, expect to have a lot of strangers visit. After all, buyers will obviously want to check out your home in person before deciding if it’s the one for them.

But it would be very unpleasant to have someone book a showing at the last minute, leaving you scrambling to get the house in order and make plans to be out of the house for the next hour or so. That is, unless, your home is vacant and you’ve already moved out. In that case, buyers should be free to schedule a showing any time, as long as it doesn’t overlap with another showing. In this case, they can get their realtors to access your home via a key in a lock box on your property.

Otherwise, you should be given a reasonable amount of notice before a buyer shows up for a scheduled viewing. That’s why it’s important to specify how much time is required before showings directly in your listing description. That way buyers and their agents will know exactly when they can expect to see your home after making an appointment.

That said, how much notice is appropriate before you allow buyers to show up? Not enough time will leave you with a very tight window to clean up and get out, while too much time can frustrate buyers and even result in a lost lead.

So, how much notice is considered reasonable when you’ve got your home on the market?

What Happens if You Ask For Too Much Notice?

If you happen to be in a market where homes are snatched up just as fast as they’re listed, then you could be doing yourself a major disservice if you ask for way too much notice before allowing a showing. If a buyer is able to book some showings for other homes before your window, you might lose out on a potential buyer.

As a seller, you really need to carefully consider how much time you realistically need to get ready for buyers. Ideally, your home should always be in showing condition, ready for last-minute showings. That means your home should be clean, free of clutter, and freshly scented. Sure, this can be a real pain, but it can mean the difference between snagging an interested buyer and missing out on a potential deal.

As far as a reasonable amount of notice is concerned, any more than a few hours is probably too much. In general, 24 hours or more is simply far too much notice for buyers to have to provide. Usually, buyers will see a listing they’re interested in and want to book a showing that same day. If you’ve got a 24-hour notice in place, that same buyer could skip over your home and look for another property that is available to be seen with shorter notice.

Buyers usually book a series of showings one after the other, and but listings that require too much notice can make scheduling these showings a nightmare. Essentially, asking for too much notice will simply make it more difficult for buyers to see your home and will throw an additional obstacle in front of them. It may seem irrational from the perspective of the buyer to have to give sellers so much time to get ready for a showing.

What is Considered a Reasonable Amount of Notice?

Generally speaking, 24 hours’ notice is simply too much. Even 12 hours may be considered too long for buyers to have to wait before being able to schedule a showing. Of course, there may certain situations whereby more notice will be needed, such as if there is a tenant living in the home who requires advance notice of their home being shown. In this case, the owner is obligated to provide 24 hours’ notice to their tenant before a prospective buyer can show up.

However, under normal circumstances, anywhere between 2 to 4 hours should be enough to time to put a few things away and get yourself out of the home before the buyers arrive. If you’re at work or are already out for the day, you should always leave your home in showing condition before you leave in case a showing is booked while you’re out. It would be a major hassle to have to run back home to prep the place if a buyer requests to see your home during the time that you’re away.

At the end of the day, you want to be competitive in your market. Take a look at other listings in your area and see what appears to be the standard amount of notice required. If 12 hours is the norm, then perhaps that might be a reasonable amount of time to ask for. If you’re asking for far more time than any other seller on the block, you’ll lose your competitive edge.

The Bottom Line

There’s no rule written in stone that dictates how much notice you should request buyers to give before scheduling a showing. But it’s important to keep in mind that more notice will likely have an impact on the number of showings you end up booking, which can inevitably impact a sale. Before you decide on a time frame for notice, be sure to consult with your realtor and heed their advice about how much notice you should request from interested buyers.