Buyers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are simply lovely and are the ideal clients. Agents love working with them and vice versa, and – as such – the entire home-buying process proceeds smoothly, from that first venture out to view potential homes all the way to the settlement table.
Then there is the buyer who is totally unfamiliar with buyer etiquette. They are the individual, couple, or family who simply doesn’t follow the rules. They call listing agents on houses they like (even if they’re working with their own agent), they fail to show up for appointments, and they don’t know how to behave during showings.
Suppose you’re new to the home-buying process, and you cringe to think that you might be lumped into that “difficult buyer” category. In that case, it’s a good idea to review some hard and fast rules of etiquette before you pick up that phone and choose a realtor to represent you in this all-important transaction. These are rules that will make your home purchase go more smoothly…and you’ll likely earn lots of proverbial Brownie points with your agent, too.
1. Do not waste an agent’s time if you’re “just looking.” If you aren’t serious about buying or you can’t afford to make a purchase just yet, don’t ask an agent to take you out every weekend just to “see what’s available when you’re ready.” Remember, almost all agents work on commission, and by obligating that agent to spend time with you, you’re taking him/her away from clients who ARE ready to buy. Hence, you’re negatively affecting that agent’s income.
2. If you are ready to buy and you’ve chosen an agent you like, stick with that agent and let him/her do the work for you. Again, it’s not fair for you to dominate an agent’s time through numerous showings and then go off and purchase a home at an open house through the listing agent, for example. That doesn’t mean, of course, that you shouldn’t have a dialog with your agent about things he or she is doing that you might not like. For example, if your agent keeps showing you homes in a neighborhood you’re not crazy about, have a frank discussion with him about it. He is there to serve you, but you need to show your allegiance as well.
3. Be punctual at all times. If you have a meeting with your agent to review details about upcoming showings, be on time. If you have an appointment to sign papers, don’t keep her waiting. And, most importantly, if he or she has set up showings at several homes, don’t be late! These appointments involve not only you and the realtor but also the homeowner, and it’s rude to arrive 30 minutes (or even 15 minutes!) late for an appointment. It creates a domino effect if you see several houses in a row, and lateness may mean you won’t be able to see a particular home on your list. And, by all means, don’t cancel at the last minute unless it’s a true emergency!
4. Don’t be the “buyer from hell” during showings. Talk to your realtor about proper etiquette as you get ready to view house after house. A few things to keep in mind:
- Leave the children home, if possible, especially small children. If you can’t, then speak with them about proper behavior before you leave your home, and don’t hesitate to remove them from the scene if they are misbehaving. Do not permit them to run through someone else’s home, touch valuables, open drawers, etc. This is not acceptable behavior.
- Limit the number of individuals who come along with you. There’s no need to bring the parents, in-laws, cousins, and best friends unless they contribute to your purchase and wish to view the houses you’re considering. If that’s the case, consider taking that person or persons along on a second or third showing when you’re really serious about a particular property.
- Speaking of second and third showings, don’t waste a seller’s time (and that of your agent) with multiple inspections unless you’re seriously considering a particular house. It also begins to look suspicious if you return again and again but then don’t place an offer.
- Keep your visits to 15-20 minutes max. It’s rude to linger longer. So you won’t need to stay forever, bring a pencil and paper and jot down the things you want to remember. And don’t take photos unless you ask first!
5. Communicate with your agent! She’s not a mind-reader! Also, discuss the best ways to reach you – email, phone, text – and be clear about when you are or aren’t available. Work with your agent to set realistic goals for your home-buying timeline so that no one will be disappointed with the outcome or think that the process is moving too slowly or too quickly.
Buying a home can be a wonderful, uplifting, exciting experience if you enter the process with enthusiasm and realistic expectations. Be disciplined but be flexible as well, and, before long, you’ll be living in a home that you love.