You wouldn't necessarily know it from our reputations as scrappy, gritty, enthusiastic salespeople, but Realtors actually employ a great deal of etiquette when it comes to the art of the deal. Knowing that we'll likely be facing one another time and again, the savvy Realtor makes a habit of being respectful to their colleagues, texting when they are showing a property, and keeping the appropriate parties informed as to whether they'll be submitting an offer or not.
Having sold hundreds of homes at this point in the game, I believe "secret" Agents should be left to the world of James Bond . . .
(Although he wasn't so secret, come to think of it. "Bond, James Bond." What kind of international spy introduces himself?) As a rule, Agents don't like covert operators. We want to know one's intentions, and that's true for Buyers as well.
That being said, there's a right and a wrong way to declare your interest. with Covid having forced so many Buyers underground for the last few years, prospective Buyers need to dust off well . . . their dust, and better understand the impressions they make when walking through an Open House.
"This place needs a LOT of work!"
"Wow, that pest report was shockingly high!"
"Was everything done with permits?"
Just to be clear, I'm not saying these aren't completely reasonable and valid questions or comments; they are. It's just that you want to save them for your Agent - not the Sellers' Agent, and NOT at the Sunday Open House within earshot of other guests (thank you very much).
If we proceed with the understanding that nearly every property is going to receive multiple offers, it behooves Buyers to understand that Sellers are far more likely to choose the Buyer that raved about their house, as opposed to the one who picked it apart, especially in front of others.
With that in mind, here are the DOs and DON'Ts of Open House etiquette:
Forget about the contingency-free offer carrying the day. (They're ALL contingency-free.) When Buyers walk through a house, they should understand that they are essentially auditioning, and should know that the Agent is listening AND watching their body language. The last thing we want a Seller to do is to get into a deal with anyone who is contentious, worried, anxious, or fearful. (Agents don't want that combo either.)
Who guides the Sellers?
The Agents do, which is why we send up warning flags when we get the "heebie-jeebies" (that's a technical term.) with respect to problematic Buyers, In fact, we feel just as strongly about Agents that fail to follow our instructions, submit sloppy offers, or jump the line. Unfortunately, there are a lot of new Agents out there with very little training. (Please get some.) In short, selling a house can be a virtual mine field. Better to navigate the course with experienced Buyers and Agents who understand the rocky terrain and are prepared to act in good faith and with good speed.
Regardless of what you believe, experienced Agents aren't looking for an adversarial relationship, but one of collaboration. We know that a win-win plays out best in the long run for everyone involved. So be polite, be engaged, and be respectful. That's just common courtesy.
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Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 18 years and has published more than 670 essays on life and real estate.