Having good home buying etiquette is critical for buyers. You do not want to be in a situation where you love a home, but the sellers did not love the way you behaved in their home. When looking at homes to buy, here are a few rules that you should follow to show respect to the homeowners and the listing agent.
1. Be On Time
Listing agents are busy. They might only have access to a home, especially one that’s still occupied, for a limited time. Only make appointments for showings that you know you can keep and arrive on time. If something comes up, let the listing agent know as soon as possible that you’re running late or won’t be able to make it. Be okay with them rescheduling. After all, they have a schedule of their own to keep.
2. Be Respectful in the Home
Whether it’s still occupied by the owners, being rented, or vacant, this home is not your home. It’s a family’s intimate space. Don’t wander around on your own, or sit on beds or other furniture. Be respectful of the homeowners’ personal property. Ask the listing agent before opening doors and looking into closets.
3. Use the Bathroom Before Your Arrive
The home you’re touring is likely being lived in. Try to use the restroom before the open house or your scheduled walkthrough. Homeowners understand that you’ll want to see the bathrooms in the home, but that doesn’t mean they’re okay with you using their toilet.
4. Ask, “Shoes On or Off?”
Every family has its own rules when it comes to wearing shoes in the home. Before stepping past the home’s entryway, ask the listing agent or your realtor if you should remove your shoes or keep them on. Plan accordingly by wearing shoes with socks on the days that you’re touring homes. Asking this question also shows respect and will leave a good impression with the listing agent in the event that you want to make an offer.
5. Follow All Showing Instructions
Your real estate agent will know all about the showing instructions. These typically aren’t displayed online but are shared directly with buyer’s agents. Showing instructions often include information about the lockbox, times that the home is available for viewing, and who to contact to schedule a showing. Be sure to follow all showing instructions.
6. Don’t Bring Food or Drink Into the Home
Refrain from bringing food and drinks into the home. Carrying a water bottle around is okay, but try to limit everything else. And, if you must eat during a showing—for example, to manage a health condition—ask the listing agent or your realtor if they’d rather you step outside with your food.
7. Leave Your Pets at Home
Pets don’t belong at an open house or a house showing. The homeowner could be allergic or your pet could shed fur or make a mess in the home. If you must bring an animal along with you—for example, a seeing-eye dog—speak to your realtor ahead of time to figure out the logistics and to ask the listing agent if it would be ok to bring the pet along.
8. Be Smart About Bringing Your Kids Along
Some parents want or need to take their kids along to showings or open houses. After all, their kids will be moving into the new home too. That can be okay, but you need to be smart about it. Toddlers especially can be difficult to manage while you’re trying to take in the details of a home and ask questions. If you do plan to bring kids along, it’s a good idea to give your realtor and the listing agent a heads-up.
You should also explain some ground rules to your kids. For example, they need to be respectful and remain in your line of sight during the entire showing. Also, make sure that your kids know not to jump on the beds or play with toys they see in the house.
9. Ask Before Taking Pictures
Taking your own photos during a tour can help you remember the property better after you leave. It’s also a great way to include others who you’re trusting to help you pick out your next home. Just be sure to get permission from the listing agent before you take any pictures.
10. Don’t Overstay Your Welcome
Try to limit your appointment to 30 minutes. If you anticipate needing more than 30 minutes to view the home, let the listing agent know ahead of time and get permission. Find out if anyone else is viewing the house after you, and be sure to leave the property before the next appointment slot.
11. View the Interior First
To help stay on schedule, view the home’s interior first. If there’s another showing after yours, you can move onto the home’s exterior and yard while the other party views the inside of the home.
12. Don’t Negotiate During the Showing
Open houses and showings aren’t an appropriate time to negotiate or point out what you don’t like about the home to the listing agent. Instead, keep a mental—or physical list—of any concerns or thoughts that you have. Post-showing, work with your real estate agent to come up with a winning offer and strategy.
13. Leave the House Exactly How You Found It
When you leave a home, the doors, windows, and lights should all be in the same state as they were when your tour began. If closet doors are open when you arrive, leave them open. If they’re shut, close them after looking inside. If you turn any lights on, turn them off before leaving. Etc.
Opening closet doors, pantry doors, kitchen cabinets, or included appliances is okay too. Just be sure to close everything that should be closed when you’re done looking. And, do not open wardrobes, nightstands, laundry hampers, medicine cabinets, or other personal furniture and belongings.
Final Thoughts on Home Buying Etiquette
When in doubt, ask your realtor. That’s a general rule of thumb to follow as you navigate the home-viewing process. A good realtor will clarify expectations and answer any additional questions you may have about home-buying etiquette.