House hunting can be a stressful time for both potential homeowners and for real estate agents. When you’re taking a house tour, you’re confronted with dozens of questions: Do I like this? Is this big enough? Is it too expensive? Do I want to spend years of my life here?
Trying to answer all of these questions at once, while also listening to your agent give the dimensions of the master bedroom’s walk-in closets, and taking pictures with your cell phone, and talking to your partner about what he or she thinks… can get overwhelming. And sometimes, it can lead to tensions, fights, or general unpleasantness — some of it directed towards your agent.
That is a shame. Because when all is said and done, agents and house hunters share a common goal: finding a perfect home. It’s in both parties’ interest for the process to go smoothly and efficiently. Real estate agents should strive to be friendly, knowledgeable, and approachable. And house-hunters should keep in mind the following five etiquette tips:
- Be On Time
Your agent probably has multiple showings per day, with multiple clients. If one is late, that affects all the others — and the quality of each showing. No one wants to be rushed through a house they might be interested in buying, and showing up on time is one way of ensuring that you’ll have as much time as you need. It also signals to your agent that you’re serious about buying a home.
- Be Upfront About What You Aren’t Interested In…
Telling your agent that you aren’t interested in a property isn’t rude — it’s helpful. If you know for sure that you don’t want to live in a certain neighborhood, or that four-bedroom colonials aren’t to your taste, let your agent know, and you won’t waste each other’s time touring homes you’re not interested in. Your agent didn’t build the house — he won’t get offended if you don’t like the way it looks.
- …But Keep an Open Mind
You might have your heart set on a Spanish-style two-bedroom with a covered porch. But don’t let your dream home blind you to your real home. Part of a real estate agent’s job is to work with you and calibrate your needs with the market reality. If it’s in your price range and you’ve already given your agent an idea of your preferences, trust her to show you some homes you might have missed. You might stumble into your perfect situation.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions… But Let Us Lead You Through The House
For every home you see, you probably have a detailed list of questions. And you should! Buying a house is a major investment, and your agent will appreciate that you’re not taking it lightly. He’ll also appreciate it if you give him a chance to take you the tour before peppering him with questions: How many bedrooms? Gas or electric stove? How old is the home? Feel free to ask questions related to what you see, but allow your agent to guide you through the house. Chances are, he’ll answer your questions without your having to ask them. And if he doesn’t? Fire away.
- Talk to Us
Yes, it’s a business relationship. But agents aren’t robots. The process of buying a home shouldn’t be cold and impersonal, and it won’t be if you make an honest effort to treat your agent like a normal human. You’re going to be spending a fair amount of time together, and mutual respect and open lines of communication are key to a successful outcome. So make an effort! If they tell you a joke, give it the benefit of the doubt. If they try to make conversation, treat them like any business colleague, and be cordial. You might not have closed yet, but when you’re touring houses, treat your real estate agent like you would treat any guest in your home. It’s more than professional courtesy: It’s good training for the future.
Sam Radbil is a contributing member of the marketing and communications team at ABODO, an online apartment marketplace. ABODO was founded in 2013 in Madison, Wisconsin. And in just three years, the company has grown to more than 30 employees, raised over $8M in outside funding and helps more than half a million renters find a new home each month.