WOW! It may seem like a long time coming, but it’s now time to go and see some homes in person! Looking at properties may not always be as simple as it sounds, so we want to share some buyer etiquette with you, as well as some of the process on the REALTOR® side of things, so that you have a true understanding of the process of touring properties that belong to others.
Before we head out, here are a few important things to know:
- COVID-19 has changed some of the ways we show properties and tour homes — for an overview of some COVID-19 protocols that we can expect to be in place in the short- and maybe even the long-term, please click here.
- Most sellers require you are pre-qualified or pre-approved before being able to see their home — in those cases, we may have to provide the letter from your lender to the seller’s agent before we are able to confirm an appointment.
- Most showings are appointment-only — even for vacant properties. Because we are entering someone else’s house, we must have an appointment, even if they no longer live there.
- Sellers usually require 24 hours notice prior to showings (this may even include vacant properties, as there may be protocols in place to get the home ready to show). They may also put other limitations on showings such as no showings after 6pm or on Sundays, etc.
- Wear comfortable, slip-on shoes as we may be asked to remove our shoes in some homes. Some properties may provide shoe covers; others may just ask that we take off our shoes.
- If a lot of sunlight is important to you in a home, then try to do showings during daylight hours. This may not always be convenient with your work schedule, so it may require that you take time off work OR wait until the weekend (which means, in a busy selling season, that the house may sell before we can see it).
- Dress for the weather. The walkway or driveway may be snowy, icy, muddy, etc. The house may or may not have AC or heat — assume that the indoor climate of a vacant home may be the same (or worse) than the outdoor climate.
- Vacant houses may not have any utilities turned on — touring after dark may be difficult, and we may not always know before we arrive.
- Don’t assume we’ll be able to use the restroom so plan accordingly. The water may be turned off or the seller’s agent may specify; basically, plan to stop at a public restroom before we arrive at the listing.
- Focus on the property, not their furnishings, artwork, etc. as you’re buying the property not their stuff. Also, try to look past the paint colors if they’re not your taste. In very few circumstances are the furnishings included with the home, so if the seller’s taste doesn’t jive with yours, try to look past it. And paint is just, well, paint. That may be the easiest thing to fix!
- Avoid touching furniture or personal items, as we don’t want to be responsible should something break.
- If touring homes with children, remind them not to play with the toys and things they see in the house.
- The home inspection comes AFTER a contract is agreed upon and signed by both the buyer and seller. While we may be able to take a peek into the attic or crawl space during our showings, we may not have full access during this time. Additionally, we are REALTORS®, not home inspectors — while we may be able to comment on the homes condition from our past experience, we leave the true complete inspection of the property to the home inspection professionals.
- Many homes are now equipped with some sort of video and/or audio security equipment (or Nanny Cams), so we all must be acutely aware of what we say and do. Always assume that the seller can hear our conversations, so we recommend that we don’t talk about how much you love the home, how much you can afford, what kind of offer you want to make on the home, etc. while in the house, just in case someone is listening. Let’s save those conversations for later — when we can be sure the seller can’t hear what we’re saying (and possibly use it in negotiations)!
- Similarly, if the sellers are home (which is rare, but does happen on occasion), be careful not to give too much away about yourself and why you’re buying as that information could hurt us later during the negotiation process.
- Bring drinks and snacks as looking at lots of homes can be a grueling process and can amount to some very long days, in some cases!
Generally the day before we are scheduled to look at homes, we will email you an address of where we are meeting and when. We will also send along a list of the homes we are confirmed to see (that may change the day of showing) and the order in which we will see them.
We will do our best to get you into every home that you wish to see, but please keep in mind that we are at the mercy of the seller — sometimes appointments cannot be confirmed, sellers take the homes off the market or refuse showings, or the property gets an offer before we can get there, regardless of how quickly we are able to try to see it. In real estate, we are firm believers that things happen for a reason — if you “miss out” on a house, it isn’t truly missing out; that just means that the better house for you is still out there, waiting to be discovered!
Now let’s go see some homes!