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Showing Courtesies for Homebuyers

A seller’s home is their private sanctum, and that should remain true even when the home is on the market. You’re a guest in a way, but you’re also someone neither the seller nor the listing agent may know. Especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer, you may not know what’s allowable and what’s off limits while you’re in the seller’s home. The following tips will help you enjoy showings and open houses more as well as protect the seller’s home from damage.  

  1. Sign in. Sellers and listing agents need to know who’s been in the home so they can ask for feedback and adjust their marketing efforts accordingly. Most homes will have a sign-in sheet for showings and open houses. It’s important that you take the time to sign in and include your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network professional’s name and phone number. If you tour builder’s homes or open houses without telling the builder or salesperson that you’re represented, you could lose the right to have your agent negotiate for you if you decide to buy one of the homes. The builder won’t pay commission to an agent they think is brought in after the fact. 
  2. Wear slip-ons. Especially during inclement weather, park your shoes at the front door and bring slippers or shoe covers with you to keep from dragging mud and dirt or other contaminants through the home. 
  3. Leave the kids at home. We love kids, but when you go to showings with your agent, you’ll have a much better experience if you’re able to concentrate on the properties without the distraction of bored, tired or disobedient children. 
  4. Establish rules for kids. You’ll want to show the kids their next home eventually, so when you bring them, tell them to stay by your side, not to touch anything, and to refrain from running or horseplay. 
  5. Your agent can’t babysit. While you’re looking at a seller’s home, don’t assume that your agent will watch the children. His or her job is to accompany you throughout the home for your protection as well as the seller’s. Agents try not to hover, but they can’t allow free rein in someone’s home. 
  6. Open closets, cabinets and drawers. Part of what you’re buying is storage and organization, so you have every right to open all closets, built-in cabinets and kitchen drawers. But if a piece of furniture is used instead of a built-in, such as a buffet table or china hutch, you should respect the seller’s privacy and not open them up. A good rule is that you can examine fixtures but not furniture. 
  7. Be aware of viruses. Viruses, including the coronavirus, can live on surfaces for as long as several days. You don’t want to introduce a virus to anyone and you certainly don’t want to pick one up. Make sure your hands are clean before you touch anything as well as after the showing by using a hand sanitizer that you bring along. Wearing a mask is a responsible choice, not a political statement. 
  8. Share feedback. Every home has advantages and drawbacks. Your comments will help the seller but it may also benefit you. Be tactful, as your comments could make the difference in whether or not they sell to you or someone else. The seller may lower the price of the home or throw in extras for you if you make an offer.