Sellers should strive to display patience with visitors who may have cold feet about going through the home buying process for the first time, while buyers should be cognizant of the seller’s time, property, and belongings. Agents have the unique job of ensuring that both the seller and the buyer make the most of the home viewing experience while not overstepping any boundaries.
“Good manners reflect something from the inside,” wrote Emily Post in her classic book on etiquette: “an innate sense of consideration for others and respect for self.”
Bad etiquette unfortunately does happen and can have consequences. Cathy Counti, a top real estate agent in the Kansas City area, has experienced house showings where etiquette wasn’t a top priority of the host, turning off a potential buyer. “I had a person that was getting ready to buy a $700,000 house. They loved everything about it,” she said, but a dirty bathroom left such a bad impression that no offer was made.
Horror stories like this can be especially common whenever the parties involved don’t prioritize proper etiquette. Whether you’re a buyer, seller, or agent, here’s how to ace your house showing etiquette.
House showing etiquette for sellers
When people selling their home display proper house showing etiquette, it creates a better experience for everyone involved. Some tips for sellers hoping to display proper house showing etiquette include:
Make a good first impression
When selling a home, people are making judgments about it well before setting foot inside, so be sure to sweep up that front porch. “What they do is assume that how you take care of that front porch is how you’ve taken care of the entire home,” Counti says.
Another way to make a great first impression on potential buyers is to prioritize lawn care to boost the home’s curb appeal. Some suggestions Counti made include planting colorful flowers, adding a coat of touch up paint and edging the grass on the front lawn.
Make sure that the home is fully prepared to be shown off
Even when all of a home’s best features are on display, it’s difficult for potential buyers to focus on them when your favorite collection is stealing the spotlight. “If there’s a doll collection, or a glassware collection, if I know that there’s a lot of those things going on, we definitely stage,” Counti says. Staging the home can be done by the homeowner themselves, or by a professional stager.
Present a fresh and clean house
When it comes to knowing what not to do prior to a home showing, failing to take out the trash that smells like Tuesday’s dinner is right near the top of the list. “Smell is a big thing, people cannot get over smell,” Counti says.
Counti also notes that buyers have a tendency to overestimate the cost for repair work, too, so it’s best to avoid having to mask a pungent smell with fragrances if possible. “If they’re like, ‘Oh, my gosh this house has a really strong vanilla smell, or fragrant smell, I’m gonna have to replace all the carpet, boom $10,000,” she says.
Spruce up neglected areas of the home
Counti says ceiling fan blades are one of the most common areas of the home that sellers overlook prior to a showing. Other areas that are easily overlooked include door handles/door knobs and light bulbs.
Having that strategy console with your buyers agents is a critical part of the process. Buyers agents don’t just open doors, buyers agents help guide you to the houses that meet your needs.
House showing etiquette for buyers
Even though buyers are considered guests during home showings, it’s important they also display proper etiquette during home showings. Here are some ways buyers can do that:
Remember that sellers may have other interested buyers
When sellers have house showings, they often have to accommodate multiple potential buyers in one day. Since that’s the case, visitors should be mindful of that by ensuring that they don’t drag in mud, dirt or debris from outside if possible.
A lot of sellers may not be fond of having strangers wandering throughout their homes, so it’s important for visitors not to make their hosts uncomfortable by making them clean up behind you. “Yeah, is it uncomfortable and annoying that you have people show up for showings and their kid uses a bathroom, doesn’t flush the toilet or they don’t lock the door? All of those things are super annoying absolutely for us when they haven’t had anybody in their house in a long time, and especially if they’re highly detailed people that are buttoned up,” Counti says.
Keep distractions to a minimum
Finding someone who can watch children or pets while you attend a house showing is a necessity for successfully taking full advantage of the time you have there. “If they bring Grandma and Grandma watches the kids that gives them [buyers] the chance to truly focus,” Counti says.
Another potential cause for distraction that could draw a buyer’s attention away from a home is their smartphone. By silencing it, and avoiding frequently used apps, staying focused on the amenities of the home becomes much easier.
Have a preliminary consultation with an agent
Even though the internet allows prospective buyers to see what a home looks like, there are lots of potential disqualifiers a home may possess that prospective buyers can only find out about in person. Identifying dealbreakers to your agent will help them weed out homes you won’t be interested in, regardless of how good the pictures may be.
“Having that strategy console with your buyers agents is a critical part of the process,” Counti says. “Buyers agents don’t just open doors, buyers agents help guide you to the houses that meet your needs.”
Be mindful of what you say
Writing down questions you have for the selling agent, or host of the home showing with pen and paper can go a long way in helping to prevent home recording devices from picking them up. Since devices like Ring and Alexa are becoming increasingly common in homes, it’s important for potential buyers to be cognizant of the fact that they’re likely being recorded during their visit.
“I would encourage you to have a piece of paper with you that you can write down notes about questions that you have that you don’t feel comfortable asking in front of other people that are looking,” Counti says. Your realtor can be instrumental in helping to determine whether those concerns are worth worrying about or not.
An agent’s role in respectful showings
Agents have the unique task of ensuring that both buyers and sellers display the home etiquette necessary for creating a welcoming environment for everyone present. Here are some things buyers should expect their agents to do:
Keep the visit short and sweet
Counti considers the expertise agents possess as a big reason why buyers benefit from having them involved in the home viewing process since they can identify red-flags right away. “They need to hire an experienced Realtor® because there is no way that they can learn the 55 things they [buyers] need to look for [alone],” Counti says.
In that same light, agents can also help prevent a home visit from taking too long by keeping buyers focused on the things that matter most, instead of getting caught up in “lifestyle,” elements of the home. Those elements may include “nice-to-haves” but not necessities like a specific number of bedrooms.
Serve as a high-level communicator on behalf of the buyer
Sellers may field multiple inquiries daily from interested parties, so knowing how to talk to them without annoying them is essential. If they become annoyed, they may not share certain insights.
“The agent that [buyers] choose must be a high level communicator, and they cannot be antagonistic to the listing agent because that just makes them not want to take your calls and share pertinent information,” Counti says. “All of these steps save time.”
Keep track of everything buyers like and dislike about a home
While a buyer has the potential to either fall in love or completely hate a house during a visit, the agent’s role is to keep the buyer’s necessities in mind. “I might give them [buyers] a copy of the MLS sheet and a pen and I say okay flip that over and let’s write down what you like, what you don’t like, if the house is a winner we cycle it,” Counti says. “If the house is a winner, we have the things that we like, you have the things we don’t like and the questions we need to research.”
Keep these tips in mind
A home showing can be a daunting experience given the role it plays in the important process of buying or selling a new house. By employing the services of a top-performing agent, buyers and sellers can help mitigate much of the worry that comes with hosting or attending a home viewing. Partnering with a top-performing agent capable of keeping consideration, honesty and respect in mind during home showings helps make the process of finding the ideal home much easier than buyers could ever imagine.
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