I’m no Emily Post, but when it comes to real estate, there are some basic rules of etiquette that I advise my buyers and sellers to follow for the benefit of everyone. If you get off on the wrong foot, the deal can be challenging. Worse yet, it might not make it to the closing table. So, in order to start the process in the best light, here are my TOP 10 Real Estate Etiquette Do’s & Don’ts.
- Arrive on Time. It’s not only polite, but it will keep you on schedule for your other house tours. And, you won’t have other buyers touring the property at the same time. Lastly, people might live in the house, and it’s hard to vacate several times a day with kids, pets and Zoom meetings to coordinate.
- Remove Shoes or wear booties, especially in rainy or snowy weather.
- Mind Your Children. I love kids (have 4 of my own), but when you bring them into other people’s houses, please don’t let them wander, climb on the furniture, touch personal belongings, eat food or play with the toys/pets.
- Watch What You Say! There are so many home gadgets and devices that can record everything that is happening in our homes today. So, if you hate the couch, talk about it in the car. It could hurt feelings, and more importantly, it could hurt negotiations.
- No Surprise Visits! Don’t show up at a house on the market unannounced. Make an appointment with an agent. Owners typically don’t want to do tours on demand and/or negotiate directly with buyers in their living room during dinner.
- Not A Public Rest Stop. When sellers open their homes to buyers, it’s not an invitation to use the bathroom. If you’re coming from out of town, stop at your agent’s office for a coffee/water/bathroom break. Or if you have a long day of showings, schedule a break in the tour to grab coffee/water or use a public bathroom.
- Not a Party! Please don’t bring your whole family, your good friends, your dog, your cat or your neighbor. The decision makers should be at the first showings.
- Double Agent. Work with ONE agent/team. If you don’t like your agent, you absolutely can stop working with him/her and use a new one, but only one at a time. It’s not only rude to work with multiple agents without their knowledge, it’s also problematic. Using one agent helps to avoid redundant conversations and duplicate listings being sent. It also wastes time with two agents doing the same work. And, it can lead to situations around procuring cause and commission disputes.
- Nosey Neighbors. Bumping into neighbors when touring a property is a great way to find out more details about the neighborhood, schools and town. However, don’t use this as an opportunity to try to get information about the sellers and their plans.
- No Window Shopping. If you can’t afford a home, don’t ask your agent to make an appointment to see it. Why get your hopes crushed and waste time you could be using to see houses in your price range?
- Leave. Sorry to be blunt, but it’s hard to assess everything in a half hour, especially when the owners of the house are in the room or in the next room. If you want to share something unique about the house with buyers on your way out in passing, that’s fine. However, don’t stay in the house during the showing or follow them from room to room, reminiscing about where Jimmy took his first steps. It hinders them from focusing on the space and whether or not it works for them. Do leave a printed list of highlights/features for them to take.
- Eat Out. A showing request around dinner time is the perfect excuse to eat out that night. This will ensure the house doesn’t smell like Taco Tuesday or the buyers will find a sink full of dishes.
- Pet Plan. While challenging, try to have a plan to keep pets out of the house for showings or at least contain them whenever possible. The last thing you want buyers worrying about is letting the cat escape or a barking dog. AND, CLEAN UP THE DOG POOP IN BACK YARD!!!! It’s not cute when a buyer steps in it.
- Tidy Up! Non-stop showings are challenging, but try to keep things as neat as possible. Have some hampers ready so that when you have to get out quickly, you can fill them with mail, work papers, dirty clothes and take them with you in the car. I call them grab-and-go bins for all of the junk we all collect.
- Too Personal! Don’t forget that buyers will be checking closet space, cabinet space, bathrooms and laundry rooms. Keep your medicines, underwear and other personal items put away for showings.
- Ample Parking. If you are taking the kids and dog for a walk during showings, don’t forget to move your cars so that the buyers can park in the driveway, especially if there isn’t a lot of street parking. If they have to circle the block 3 times before they even step into the house, you’re off to a bad start.
- Proceed with Caution. Remember to fix any hazardous issues before allowing buyers to tour the house. The last thing you want is someone falling or getting hurt.
- Let There Be Light! Especially when the house is vacant, please be sure that all light bulbs work and that you have floor lamps accessible from light switches for night showings. Agents and buyers feeling their way around the house for switches doesn’t make a great first impression.
- Just Jiggle It. Fix your front door lock before listing the house. If only you know the right way to jiggle the key, it’s going to raise red flags before the buyers step into the house.
- Nosey Neighbors. Don’t ask your neighbors to spy on buyers coming and going. It’s unlikely you’ll get an offer when a buyer is being recorded by a person behind a bush across the street who then tries to nonchalantly come over to chat when the buyer leaves the house. Don’t be that guy!