Pros & Cons of Removing Shoes Before Showing a House

Pros & Cons of Removing Shoes Before Showing a House

Sellers want their houses shown in the best light, and many think that asking potential Buyers and their agents to remove their shoes is the perfect solution – thereby keeping their houses clean and dirt-free. Some Sellers, for example, may have severe asthma – so tracking in pollen/dirt/mold spores is a very real concern.

But what do potential Buyers think of this request?

There are those that simply won’t remove their shoes to view a home for whatever reason – they just don’t like to walk around without shoes, are elderly, or have other health or foot issues that make removing shoes difficult – and therefore, will skip a house that asks them to do so.


If you’re in a Buyer’s Market, losing even one viewer could mean the difference between a sale or a house sitting on the market for longer.

If you’re in a Seller’s Market, however, having such a request can send a message that the Seller wants to protect a Buyer’s potential investment by preventing dirt and dust build up during showings.

And some people like to look at houses where it says “Please remove shoes” because they feel the house is clean.

There are several arguments for and against making such a request, and also several things to keep in mind:

If you do expect Buyers to remove their shoes, please provide somewhere for them to sit near a basket of shoe covers, or “booties” (make sure they’re not the plastic ones as these are even more slippery) so they can put them on safely.

When it comes to the shoe covers, however, a thought to keep in mind for a Seller is: if a Buyer slips and falls and injures themselves due to the request to wear the booties, do you want to be held liable?

A runner, or booties over the shoes, in inclement weather, however, makes perfect sense.

Place runners in the areas with light carpet so Buyers can walk the typical path of the room using the runners. Rent or borrow plastic or paper runners for a room with new or lighter-colored (read, easily made filthy) carpet or those with newly installed flooring a Seller would like to protect.

Home Depot or Lowe’s sells a clear stick on type roll of runner – although some carpet installers caution that these can leave a sticky residue that will then more easily collect dirt once removed.

Sellers might want to ask themselves if they’re highlighting the fact they have carpet that can be easily smudged, or if they can possibly lose a Buyer because they don’t want to deal with having to worry about light-colored carpet or laminate floors.

Some Sellers would rather lose a sale because someone is offended by a sign then have them come in and think the house is dirty or hard to keep up.

As many people know with laminate floors, after the first 2-3 people walk in for a showing it starts to show tracks everywhere. If Buyers enter your house and it appears dirty, they will bypass it.

On the other hand, asking Buyers to take off shoes might drive home the fact that they’d be purchasing a house that has carpet or flooring that would difficult to keep clean, and they might want to move on.

In a market where some people are begging for showings do Sellers really want to be turning Buyers off before they come in the door? If a Buyer has shown an interest in what you’re selling – one would think a Seller would want to make it easier for them, not harder.

Studies Show…

Several countries and cultures insist on shoes being left at the front door. There are several compelling studies that state this is for a good reason.

The University of Houston did a study and found that 39% of shoes contained bacteria C. diff (otherwise known as Clostridium difficile), a public health threat that’s now also resistant to a number of antibiotics, and can cause multiple health conditions.

In another study done by the University of Arizona, nine different forms of bacteria were found on the bottom of shoes. Furthermore, Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona did a test with a brand new pair of shoes and found that within just two weeks of wearing a new shoe 440,000 units of bacteria were found on it.

About 27% of that total bacteria were deadly E Coli. Klebsiella pneumonia was also found, which can lead to and cause pneumonia, and wound and bloodstream infections, and another type of infection called Serratia ficaria, which can lead to infection of the respiratory tract.

This is especially important if you have young children in a house. Children ages 2 and under should NOT be playing on floors that shoes have walked on.

Not only do shoes contain bacteria, but they also contain germs, chemicals and oil or petroleum by-products. The bottom of your shoes are full of plenty of chemicals and pathogens that you don’t want to spread all over your home then walk barefoot on later.

It’s uncommon in countries such as America and Canada for guests to be asked to remove their shoes at the door. Taking your shoes off, however, is a sign of respect for your home and the home of guests. It’s best to leave the outside world just outside your door, along with your shoes.

So, as a potential Buyer, it might be a good idea to keep the following in mind so you’re prepared for anything:

If you’re able to, when going out to an Open House or for showings with your agent, don’t wear lace-up shoes. Slip-ons, flip flops, etc., are ideal for easy on and off.

If you encounter a “Please remove shoes” sign, having to untie and tie your shoes at every house can be a huge waste of time, even if you get to the front door of a house you really want to see.

If you decide to forgo the slippery booties provided, and you can’t stand the idea of walking barefoot through a house, make sure you wear socks with your slip on shoes.

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Charles McDonald
Charles McDonald
Charlottesville Solutions
2013 Woodbrook Court, Charlottesville VA 22901
REALTOR® - Licensed to sell Real Estate in Virginia
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