Showing Etiquette Do’s and Don’t’s
Going to a showing appointment can introduce you to your dream home. Or, at the very least, it will teach you what you do not like or want in a home you buy. You would think that showing etiquette is simple common sense, but you would be surprised. These helpful tips will give you a solid basis for a smooth home search and buying experience, and by practicing the Golden Rule, you are as good as golden!
It should come as no surprise that many sellers have video and audio equipment recording buyer prospect’s visits to the home. It is important that you avoid saying anything that can be used against you in negotiations because anything you say can and will be used against you! It is best just to act as if the home is bugged with microphones everywhere and every thing you say will be recorded.
Things to Avoid Saying:
- Exclamations like “I love it!” or “This is the one!” can and will almost always be used against you. Showing interest is always good, but showing too much can put you in a tough spot if the seller counters on your offer. If the seller knows their home is your dream house, you lose leverage to negotiate price.
- Just like being too excited, being too harsh can also damage you. Say the paint colors are not aligned with your taste, saying something like “This is hideous!” can (and probably will) get back to the seller. Starting off with offenses and/or insults before they get your offer can make them less willing to negotiate.
- Don’t ask personal questions about the seller. It is natural to be curious as to why a home is being sold, and while the answers can be useful, it is still very private information and quite often it is confidential. The listing agent cannot disclose the reason without written consent from the seller.
- Asking the listing agent directly if the seller will take a certain price is also not a good idea. This situation is highly uncomfortable and leaves both sides with risk. The realtor more than likely has an idea of how low the seller is willing to go, but they cannot disclose that number to you even if it is known. Giving too much information can cause the seller to lose leverage in a fair negotiation, and any agent who willingly gives that information up may not have their client’s best interest at heart. Just think: Would I want my realtor to tell a potential buyer that I am willing to accept a price $10,000 lower than where my home is listed? The answer is no.
- “What are the neighbors like?” Asking a listing agent this question puts them in a tough spot. They do not live in the neighborhood 24/7, and will most likely not know whether or not the Jones’s son down the street throws a loud block party every Friday night. It is best to patrol the neighborhood in the morning and the evening before submitting an offer; learn the neighborhood for yourself. You might find a quiet, peaceful community or a used car lot that forms at the end of the street once everyone gets home from work.
Things to Avoid Doing:
Simple showing etiquette is key when viewing a home on your list. These tips will help make sure you do not overstep your bounds and cause any unintentional harm.
- You are not allowed in a house without express permission, and your Realtor has to be with you at viewing appointments. You cannot just enter a home because your agent is running late and the back door was unlocked. That would be unlawful entry and it is illegal.
- If you have children, do not let the children run through the house and climb all over furniture. Hold onto their hands and travel room to room with them. You should make sure you keep an eye on what your children are doing at all times, even when your back is turned. This is for their safety and preservation of the homeowner’s belongings. It is also being respectful of the access and time the seller provided for you and your family to view their home.
- Do not take food or drink into the house. Accidental spills can be a nightmare and drinks and snacks can wait until after you are outside the home.
- Do not take pictures of the home or decor. Pictures should have been provided online and you want a view not already available, always ask before snapping a photo.
- While checking out storage space, do not check out what great food they have in their pantry or what designer clothes they may have in the closet. It is okay to look by opening cabinet and closet doors. However, touching the homeowner’s belongings is strongly discouraged.
- It is not your thermostat so don’t adjust it to make yourself comfortable. You will be there for a short while so sometimes you just have to grin and bear it.
Here are a few extra tips for when you go to a showing appointment or you visit an open house.
- See the house a second time. A second showing is always the best thing to do before submitting an offer to purchase. The second time around, bring a tape measure and measure out to see if your furniture will fit. Look at the appliances. Analyze the closet and storage spaces. Is it enough? Is it too much? Make a list of necessities. Does the house check off enough boxes for you to justify you offer?
- Wear comfortable, but appropriate, clothing. You will be moving from room to room, inside to outside, and possibly up and down stairs.
- There is nothing wrong with a little chit chat with the listing agent. Just remain mindful about what you are asking of them and what they are asking of you.
- Remember that the listing agent has a legal obligation to give out certain information, like an inspection report from a deal that might have busted out before you saw the house. However, do not ever think that the listing agent will give out more information than they have to. This is not cheating; this is the agent’s fiduciary responsibility to keep the client’s best interests first at all times.
With these guidelines in mind, your home viewing experience should be fairly stress free for you and the homeowner. Remember when entering someone else’s home, do unto their belongings as you would have them do unto yours. Consult your Realtor, throw on some comfortable shoes, and get to viewing!