How Do You Ask Buyers to Watch Their Kids During Showings?

12 Replies

My neighbor is selling a house with a pool in an area where pools are not the norm. Her backyard is a child's paradise, but two separate showings have had the kids ON the pool deck with zero adults anywhere near. The deck has a locking barrier on the ladder and she keeps it locked, but they get around it.

Broker's notes say to keep an eye on the kids in the backyard, but obviously no one is reading it. 

I get that parents are looking around the house, and she doesn't want to make the pool seem like a hazard and keep people from making an offer, but she also doesn't want to fish a dead kid out of her pool.

Any tips?

Require two agents on showings? One to keep an eye on things outside and one to show the house. Or require the listing agent to be present at all showings. 

Don't allow the children in the yard without the parents. It requires that your daughter speak up. If she is not prepared to vocalise her wishes then she should simply ignore th ekids and let things take their natural course. Darwinism at it's finest.

Oh @Mindy Jensen how I wish I had an answer for that.

Even on the buyers side I recommend that parents leave their younger kids at home while showing. Of course they "want little Trevor to see if he would feel at home in the one they choose". Meanwhile running through the house, pulling the owners kids toys out of toyboxes, jumping on beds. Parents are not listening to a single thing you are telling them about the house because every 20 seconds like clockwork "I told you to behave...get over here" is coming out of their mouth. After we are done I end up walking around putting things back as they were. I have had to stop working with clients because I can't take them into an occupied house.

Sadly every parent agrees with you when you give them the "We are entering someones home" speech. They also respond with "Little Lucy is really good and will just stand and walk next to us". You open the door and it's like someone released a windup toy. As a listing agent the only thing I can think of is to be at every showing, but that in itself is no good for anyone. Perhaps a note in private remarks as well as one on the back door that reads "NO UNATTENDED CHILDREN IN THE BACK YARD UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, AREA UNDER VIDEO SURVEILLANCE". Then I suppose at least the broker can make a call to the agents broker. 

Good question

Can the ladder easily be detached? May not look the best aesthetically for showings but probably the safest bet or install a pool cover. Or have the buyer’s agent and the parents sign a waiver prior to the showings being approved. I would think they would get the point after that.

No kids allowed at showings. Put it in the notes, and post a clear sign as they enter the property. 

When you say "broker's notes" do you mean in the listing only?  I would place a nicely scripted sign next to the interior flyers or foyer table with something along the lines of, Parents, please accompany children when near pool/lake/water -- whatever is relevant.  

@Mike Cumbie really hit the nail on the head.  I have had buyer clients that have let the little crumb crunchers run rampant, no matter how firmly I tell them to keep the kids at their side.

Talk about competing interests - trying not to tick off the parents vs not wanting the kids to leave the home a complete mess, which is probably how their own home looks.

This is one of the many challenges that we face almost every day and I wish I had a better answer than to tough it out.  

UGH. At least it's not just me.

I was showing a house to the parents of The Worst-Behaved Children, Ever. Seriously, they could (and probably have) win an award for most awful children on the planet.

Every showing I was constantly asking the kids to stop playing with the toys, etc. (If you're not going to parent your kid and they're acting like a jerk, I will. Also, these were friends, so I didn't feel bad.)

But now I feel it's a balance. She doesn't want to scare the parents away from the house, but DOES want to scare the kids away from the pool. 

She doesn't want to remove the ladder, because that's the only way up if a kid does manage to shimmy up and fall in, how can the parents get there to fish them out?

Request all viewings be ADULTS ONLY until they have secured a contract on a home. It assists the parents in having their 100% attention on the showing, so they won't miss something that could be a deal maker or deal breaker for them, and it protects the parents from the risk of having to pay damages should something be moved and thought to be missing or broken during their visit. In the 20 years I sold real estate, I seldom ever had children go through showings. They would be bored. If they do show up, maybe ask the parents to allow them to use a electronic device to entertain them during the viewing. Perhaps it would limit their touching anything or wandering off anywhere. Worst case scenario, lock the back door with a sign that reads, ADULTS ONLY. NO CHILDREN PERMITTED IN BACKYARD DURING SHOWINGS. They can look out the window, and perhaps schedule an appointment to return without the children. Make this point known prior to the visit. Parents will make arrangements to be sure they can see everything.

I've only had a handful of showings where the parents brought kids in, but I engaged the kids and it kept them from destroying things or running rampant.  I ask everyone's names as they enter. The kids always go into rooms first, so when they make a bee-line for something, I'll say something like "Hey Timmy, will this be your bedroom?" or "Emma, what do you think of the back yard?"

I don't talk to them constantly, I mostly address the parents, but grabbing the kids' attention every now and then makes them feel part of the process, and they settle down a little.  The parents seem to like it too.

I think a cover on the pool...physically covering the only way to make sure kids don't get in. It is expensive, but would make a good selling point to people that also have kids that are buying the house. That's what I would do if I owned a pool. Maybe a less expensive solution would be for owners to alarm the door leading to the pool? You just don't get very far, I think, trying to convince kids to stay in line who have no idea of the concept of "behaving". Sometimes they actually do not even understand what you mean by "stay with us", they have never done it before!

The listing agent is not responsible for the safety of kids during a showing. Maybe I am old fashioned, but I think the parents should care more about the safety of their kids than the agents. I'm sure this will offend some of you.