You like being under a microscope? Whatever your answer to that question may be, you’d better get used to being scrutinized when you’re trying to buy a home. Your behavior can sway sellers to bestow their precious home on you—or pass you up for someone nicer or way less annoying.
Naturally,realtor.com®is here to help! Just be sure to follow these heretofore unwritten rules of house-buying etiquette to stay in the good graces of all involved.
Get pre-approved for a home loan
Getting pre-approved and knowing exactly how much house you can afford before shopping for a home is key to winning over sellers, real estate agents agree.
“It is simply misleading to look at a home you don’t know you qualify for,” says Cara Ameer, a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker. Yes, thisisan etiquette issue. “Remember that the seller and agent(s) took time to prepare for the showing. Put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel if someone was looking at your home and they had no idea if they qualified for a mortgage, let alone the price range of your home?”
If you haven’t yet been pre-approved, let the agent and seller know upfront.
You’re mom used to tell you this one, right? If you have an appointment with your Realtor, respect his or her time. If you’re running late, call, but don’t make a habit of last-minute schedule changes. Agents have plenty of other clients they could be working with. Also, if they’ve asked a seller to leave the house for your showing, your tardiness makes both you and your agent look bad. Enough said.
Remove your shoes
Whatever “shoe rules” you have in your home are null and void elsewhere—so when in doubt, ask if you should remove your shoes upon entering anyone’s home.
“You may be asked to remove your shoes or even wear surgical booties,” says Brenda Hayward, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker. Don’t be self-conscious! “Just give it up; no one looks good in surgical booties.”
Don’t bring an entourage
“This may be OK in Hollywood, but try to minimize the group field trip effect,” says Ameer. “You may want to save that for once you’ve narrowed down your choices to your top two to three properties. Sometimes, too many opinions can be confusing and overwhelming, and add unnecessary time to the property tour.”
Ditto when it comes to little ones. “Ideally, you don’t bring your children with you when going to view a house,” saysNicholas Kensington of Scottsdale Real Estate. “If that isn’t possible, though, don’t let them wander anywhere they want. There are always potential safety issues. And it’s justrude.”
Ask permission before taking photos
Want to take a few pictures or shoot some video to help you remember all those small details? Ask first, Kensington advises. “There might be concerns about privacy that you’re not aware of.”
Don’t linger too long
Just how long is long enough to truly take in a home? While there’s no formal rule, Ameer says anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes is typical for a first showing.
“Taking a bit longer may be OK, but remember: You can always go back for a second showing and will likely need to.” But beyond two visits, when exactly are you at risk of being considered a stalker? See our next point…
Avoid excessive multiple visits
“One, two, or even three visits is typically acceptable prior to making an offer,” Ameer says. “If you must return more than that, make sure this is a home you are seriously considering.”
Please, Mr. Postman
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All those visits are not only an inconvenience, but they could also make a seller extremely anxious, especially if a buyer comes to the house five times and is never heard from again. Remember, youwillhave inspections and access to the home again, so don’t waste a seller’s time with too many visits.
Before you come away thinking you’re the only person in the home-buying process who should adhere to a code of conduct, tune in next week to learn all the unwritten etiquette rules home sellers should follow, too!
Liz Alterman is writer who has covered a variety of subjects, from personal finance issues for CNBC.com to career advice for The Muse. Her hobbies include reading, baking, and failed attempts at gardening.