Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Manners Matter - Home Buying Etiquette

It is often surprising how easy it is for people who are generally considerate and well-mannered to forget their manners when they are looking for a house. Sure, it’s not something people do every day; it’s a big purchase and at least a little scary for most people. Sometimes, when there’s more than one person involved they may not agree, the kids are cranky from driving around, and everyone is concerned about making the right decision. All of these stress factors can cause people to act in ways they never would otherwise.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you begin the home buying process:

1. Information. Houses belong to someone even when they are on the market. Owners want know who is asking about their home - wouldn’t you? When you contact a real estate agent or call an office be prepared to give some basic information – name, address, phone number, and whether or not you are pre-approved for a mortgage.

2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage. Don’t be offended if an agent won’t show you a house if you are not pre-approved for a mortgage. Instead, ask who you can contact to get it done. Without a recent pre-approval, you run the risk of either falling in love with home you don’t quality to purchase or worse, you might miss out on your dream home because you thought it was out of your price range.

3. Open houses. Please sign-in and give correct information. If you are under contract with a buyer agent, make sure you write that on the sign-in sheet. If you don’t want the agent at house to contact you just write please do not contact next to your information – we respect your request.

4. Plan ahead. Houses are shown by appointment. If someone is living there, they need some notice to pick up and get out – very few people can keep their house ready for visitors with a moment’s notice – can you? Even new construction is shown by appointment – there might be workers at the house, etc.

Also, it is not realistic to call an agent or an office from in front of a house and expect an agent come right out to meet you. Imagine calling your lawyer, dentist, hair-dresser, plumber, mechanic, financial planner, or anyone else expecting on the spot service!

6. Invest an hour. Set up a meeting with an agent at their office (or other convenient location) so you can talk about your needs and get to know each other. Buying a home is a big investment and can take several months – don’t you owe it to yourself to invest an hour upfront?

7. If you bring the kids. For their safety and the safety of the home and the owners belongings, keep your children by your side at all times, especially in new construction where things are unfinished and may be dangerous. And please don’t let them play with the home-owners’ kids toys - wouldn't you feel aweful if they broke something!

8. Respect property. Of course you need to look inside closets and cabinets, etc. Dresser drawers, medicine cabinets, and all personal belongings are off limits. But please don't sit on someone’s bed or use the master bath – sellers know they give up some privacy when their homes are on the market but put yourself in their shoes!

9. Loyalty matters. If you are under contract with a real estate agent, always contact that agent when you need information. People can get really impatient sometimes or they don’t want to “bother” their agent so they start calling offices or listing agents demanding information or make an appointment pretending that they are going to be clients.

Call your agent – he/she will call you back. If your agent doesn’t return calls and give you the information you need then find another agent. If you can’t stop yourself from calling an office or listing agent directly, make sure that you disclose that you are working with an agent right away and that you would appreciate some information.

10. Golden Rule/Common Sense – as with everything else, treat others the way you would like to be treated and the home-buying process will be efficient and the transaction will be a lot easier. If you’re not sure what the protocol is, just ask – we’re here to help!


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