I’ve certainly heard the insinuation: by shuffling the order they show a series of homes, Realtors can subtly (or not so subtly) “guide” their Buyer’s decision to buy the home they want them to.
Specifically, the supposed strategy is to show the most promising property either first or last: the first home “sets the bar” for subsequent ones, while the last home seen is the easiest for Buyers to recall. See, “After You Read the Listings, Your Agent Reads You.”
A variation on the above is to show purposely mediocre and/or overpriced homes first, so that the client will be “wowed” when they ultimately get to a truly impressive property.
So, is it true?
Not in my case, with this caveat: whenever possible, I try to start a series of showings at the property my client has the most interest in.
Card House, Any Card House!”
Ultimately, what Realtors have to sell (besides properties) is their time, and showing the most promising candidates first is the most efficient way to use one’s time with clients.
In practice, however, that’s usually not possible.
That’s because I typically will show clients 4-6 homes per outing (more, and they all tend to blur together).
Instead of zigzagging back and forth between each home, I map all of them, then show them in geographic order (east-to-west, northwest-to-southeast . . . whatever).
Depending on the time of day, I’ll also try to arrange showings so as to minimize traffic.
Example: if I’m showing homes close to evening rush hour (which I try to avoid), I’ll usually arrange to start at the property furthest away from the city center, then move towards downtown (and against traffic).
(Oddly, the process of setting up showings is not unlike the “connect-the-dots” drawing exercise for kids.)
Second Showings; “Making the Cut”
As I tell my Buyers, the goal doing first showings isn’t to decide what to buy, it’s to decide what they want to see again ” that is, what makes the cut for Round 2.
Once I’ve familiarized my client with the market ” typically by showing them 8-12 well-screened properties over a few weeks ” it’s time to double back to the top 3-4 for second showings.
Again, geography is determinative, but whenever possible I like to start with the most promising home, first.
That not only is the most efficient, but practically, it lets my clients refresh their memory after seeing all the intervening homes.
P.S.: One of the dumbest lines I’ve heard uttered by a Realtor in awhile has to be this one (from the same NYT article cited above):
“Here’s a tell,” said one Realtor. “If the Buyer lingers for a long time in any one room, that’s telling you that there is something about this room that’s especially interesting to them.”