I once read an article titled How Not To Piss Off Your REALTOR – a compilation of stories about buyer behaviors agents find frustrating and disrespectful.
While this list of aggravations was extremely accurate, it also highlighted the fact that most people outside the industry don’t know what they’re supposed to do or not do.
After all, how can industry professionals expect buyers to “follow the rules” when buyers don’t know what those rules are?
Perhaps the reason these “rules” aren’t commonly discussed is because they seem so simple and common sense…on paper. However, you’d be amazed how often they’re broken in practice!
While following the buyer dos and don’ts listed below will certainly make your REALTOR happy – more importantly, they’ll increase your chances of having an uncomplicated and positive real estate experience and help you avoid any undesired financial or legal obligations that can result from unknowingly breaking agency laws and regulations.
Here are the 5 major buyer etiquette rules you should know and follow.
RULE 1. SHOWINGS ARE FOR SERIOUS BUYERS ONLY. PERIOD.
DON’T – ask an agent to show you a home without a serious interest and intent to purchase. Homes can be viewed “just for fun” by attending events such as open houses or the Parade of Homes.
DO -Get pre-approved by a lender before visiting homes.
DO – Respect other people’s time. It takes a team of people to set up what seems like a simple home showing request, including your agent, the list agent and the homeowner.
RULE 2. CHOOSE ONE AGENT AND DO ALL BUSINESS THROUGH THAT AGENT
DO – choose one real estate agent to work with before you begin the homebuying process.
DO – sign an exclusive buyer’s agency agreement with your agent before viewing homes.
Having an agent show you a home could establish an agency relationship, even without signing an exclusive buyer’s agency agreement. Therefore, if you are asking an agent to view homes with you, you are benefiting from their time, experience and education and should consider yourself morally obligated to them. Looking at homes with one agent and using a different agent to write an offer could create a sticky situation where the first agent is entitled to compensation as the procuring cause of the sale.
RULE 3: CALL ONLY YOUR AGENT TO SCHEDULE SHOWINGS FOR ANY HOMES OF INTEREST
DO – make all showing appointments through your agent, including homes listed for sale by owner and new construction properties.
DON’T – call the agent on a yard sign or knock on the door to see a home. Instead, make a showing appointment through your agent.
DO – Let the host of an open house know you are already working with an agent and sign in to the open house using your agent’s name.
DON’T – seek out a new agent if your agent is unavailable. Your agent will assign a trusted colleague to work with you in their absence.
RULE 4: TRUST YOUR AGENT AND BE RESPECTFUL
DO – choose an agent you trust, and then listen to them! Your agent is familiar with situations that arise throughout the homebuying process and their counsel should be highly considered.
DO- provide your agent with honest feedback and be upfront about your circumstances and needs so they can best support you.
DO – keep a professional relationship with your REALTOR. Respect the fact that this is his or her livelihood. Due to the nature of the business your agent will likely be available nights and weekends, however, respect their personal time and limit calls at irregular hours to emergencies.
DO -meet an agent for the first time in a “safe location” chosen by the agent and/or be prepared to send them appropriate identification prior to the meeting.
DON’T – ask your agent for their opinions on neighborhoods or schools. Regulations set by the Federal Fair Housing Act do not allow agents to give opinions or “steer” their clients to particular areas or neighborhoods. However, agents can provide you with data and resources about neighborhoods of interest. Talking to neighbors is also a good source of information.
RULE 5: SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
DO -research, understand and follow local procedures, laws and market trends through trusted local resources such as your agent or NWAREALESTATE.COM. Behaviors and procedures you experienced when purchasing a home in New York (for example) may not translate to Northwest Arkansas.
DON’T – expect a contingency offer to be viewed as favorably by a seller as an offer without a contingency. It is best practice to have your current home on the market prior to viewing homes for yourself. It is even more appropriate to wait until your home is under contract or sold before making an offer on another home.
DON’T – ask why a seller is moving with the intent to negotiate a better deal based on a seller’s circumstances. Base an offer on comparable sold properties and what you consider to be a fair price for the home.
DO – give a seller the full allotted time on the contract to respond to your offer before asking your agent to follow up.
DO -conduct all negotiations through your agent.
DON’T – contact the list agent or seller yourself (when you are working with a buyer’s agent).
NICOLE BREKELBAUM is the founder & content curator of NWAREALESTATE.COM where she utilizes her background in education and real estate to provide homebuyers and sellers with resources they can use to make more confident and informed real estate decisions. Nicole is an Executive Broker at Collier & Associates in Fayetteville, AR.