House-Hunting Etiquette

House-Hunting Etiquette

While viewing homes, it is vital to leave the seller and their agent with a great first impression. Though you may not realize it, your actions during a home tour may determine whether you win a contract, especially in an extremely competitive seller’s market.

When most people hear the word “etiquette,” they think about dinner table manners, but the truth is house hunting features its own unwritten set of rules. In fact, sellers have specific expectations for those who tour their homes. After all, it is still their home. Don’t worry! We’ve compiled the most common house-hunting etiquette rules to help you succeed in finding a home.

DO: Be Serious & Remember Your Budget

The home-buying process should always begin with a pre-approval. This shows how much of a mortgage you can get approved for, which then helps you shop for homes within a realistic budget. Moreover, it informs the seller that you can secure financing if an offer is placed.

This is crucial information to know before beginning the home-hunting process, as it allows you to stick to homes that are actually within your price range. From the seller (who probably spent time sprucing the house) to your agent and even yourself, looking at homes you cannot afford is a big waste of everyone’s time.

That said, you should also only make showing appointments for listings you are genuinely interested in buying. This certainly doesn’t mean that you have to make a final decision before viewing the home, but reserve tours for only those houses you would seriously consider.

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DO: Arrive at the Showing On Time

As we mentioned, first impressions matter. Nothing can set a poor tone more than showing up late. And it doesn’t matter who is giving you the tour, as it’s always important to arrive promptly. In a seller’s market, you should account for multiple showings possibly happening back to back, so one late arrival can throw off the entire showing schedule, which, many times, is frustrating and problematic.

DO: Leave the Kids at Home

It’s definitely understandable that some parents like to include their children in the home-buying process. However, we advise you to skip bringing your children to the initial viewing for several reasons. These reasons include:

  • Children tend to require a great deal of attention, and you want to focus your undivided attention on reviewing the home. When too many distractions are present, you can walk away, having missed the property’s most important features.
  • Children often get restless and may not want to look at the home. Since buying a home is a considerable commitment, you’ll want to examine the entire house closely.
  • Children can get into mischief. For example, they may accidentally enter an area of the home that the seller wanted to keep private (we’ll learn more about this later).

Sometimes you have no other option but to bring your kids. If this is the case, pay close attention that they remain respectful inside the home. After all, at this point, everyone is still a guest. The last thing you want is problems arising during the viewing if you decide it’s “the one.”

DO: Cover or Remove Your Shoes at the Door

Though removing your shoes at the front door is usually just a common courtesy, in some cases, cultures require that shoes are removed. Most agents provide buyers with “booties” or disposable shoe covers for when they tour homes. If you’re unsure what to do, just ask your agent for advice.

DO: Respect the Home Seller’s Privacy

As we said, buying a home is a big decision, so it’s only natural to want to see every part of the house during the tour to decide if it’s the one you want. Often, when viewing houses, it’s perfectly acceptable to open all doors, including closets, bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. You are also welcome to look inside the home’s appliances.

However, you should always avoid more personal areas of the home, such as medicine cabinets, nightstands, and dressers. Yet, sometimes, a seller may also specify certain areas in the house that they don’t want to be viewed, such as a safe room containing personal information. It’s best to respect this request.

DON’T: Cancel at the Last Minute

Always provide plenty of notice in the event you must cancel a showing. Of course, your agent is setting aside time and possibly driving a long distance to meet you, but the sellers must also make arrangements, which sometimes involve bringing pets and kids with them. Hence, coordinating just one showing can be disruptive. Nothing is worse than going through the entire process just to learn that the interested buyer isn’t going to show. Though unavoidable issues may arise, always try to do everything possible to avoid canceling at the last minute.

DON’T: Bring Food or Drinks

This usually goes without saying, but it’s worth mentioning. You don’t want to risk spilling drinks or dropping crumbs inside a home that is not yours. So, ensure that you eat your snack or finish your coffee before entering the house, or you can always leave it in the car until you’re finished. Regardless, you should never bring food or drinks inside a home that you are viewing.

DON’T: Discuss More Details Than Needed

A better option is to take good notes and discuss the points with your agent outside of the home. In today’s world, many homeowners have security systems, smart devices, and video doorbells that may have microphones. You can leave yourself disadvantaged if you talk about your offer strategy or thoughts on the property and the homeowner is listening. For this reason, you should treat every showing as if the seller and possibly even their agent can hear and see what you are doing. Hence, don’t talk down about the home or seller while you are in or around the property, as it may come back to haunt you down the road.

Don't discuss more details than needed

DON’T: Get Comfortable

While the seller wants you to envision yourself living in the house, it doesn’t mean that you should make yourself comfortable during the showing. After all, it’s not yours - yet! Avoid laying on the bed and relaxing on their sofa or recliner. A general rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t use or touch any personal belongings inside the home. Unless you have an extreme emergency, you should even avoid using the restroom during a showing. And if you do, always be sure to check the water is on. Furthermore, if using the bathroom is unavoidable, clean the area and leave it just as you found it.

That said, if you’re serious about buying the home, it is acceptable to run the sinks and flush the toilet to check the plumbing. Yet, it’s still best to get the listing broker or seller’s permission before doing so.

Closing Thoughts

Following the simple tips we discussed will help keep all parties happy and leave a remarkable first impression, which could give your offer the edge it needs. Ultimately, the best thing is to follow the Golden Rule - treat other people as you wish to be treated. When in doubt, put yourself in the seller’s shoes and think about how you would want someone to behave in your home. Be respectful of everyone’s privacy, time, and special requests, and remember, common courtesy may just land you the contract!

Our local real estate experts have helped countless people purchase homes in the Mid-Missouri region. Here at Heartland Network, we believe in a division of responsibility and team concept. This allows every team member to refine their skills within their areas of expertise, thus providing our clients with what we know as “Simply Exceptional Service.”

We would love the chance to assist you with navigating viewings and the home-buying process as a whole. Buying a home is one of the most exciting times of your life, and our team wants to help take the stress out of the home-buying process through our guidance and expertise. Contact us today and let’s get the process started!

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