showing etiquette

6 Tips for Finding a House, Showing Etiquette and Buying a Home

There are many stages to finding and buying a home. The showings phase is often forgotten but has a slew of unwritten showing etiquette “rules”. All these steps and unfamiliar expectations increase the stress around buying a home. I’ve gathered a few tips for each of these steps to help you make the process go smoothly.

1. I don’t want X, Y, or Z.

Buyers often know what they don’t want before they know what they do want. I challenge you to expand your horizons by keeping your mind open. I’ve had a number of people say “I don’t want a split entry/townhome/to live in X city” then bought a home with one of those characteristics. We often get bad impressions from a few experiences in our lives and those are hard to shake. My advice is to visit several homes and shift your mindset to what you DO want. You might find the house best matching your criteria is one you didn’t think was even worth viewing.

showing etiquette

2. Remove your shoes and turn off the lights when you leave!

Most people take their shoes off naturally when entering someone’s home. If you’re wondering; yes, it is the norm when viewing houses, unless told otherwise. This is also my friendly reminder to wear good shoes when going on showings. I learned early on that slip-ons are the best when showing. Bring socks! Even if you’re wearing sandals to showings it’s smart to bring a pair of socks to wear when walking around someone else’s home. Next, turn off lights when you leave. This is technically your Realtors responsibility. However, everyone needs a reminder now and then and more heads are better than one. I’ve had a couple out-of-town Seller horror stories of lights left on and electricity bills to prove it. Give your Realtor a hand and keep your eyes out for lights left on or doors not locked. It’s easy to get distracted talking to clients while walking through or leaving a property.

3. Remember someone could be watching or listening.

I don’t mean to scare you but this is increasingly more common. I treat each house as if there’s a surveillance camera. In today’s day and age, with products like Ring Doorbell, this is a real possibility. This rule isn’t about treating the home respectfully. It is so you don’t show all your cardsso to speak.  If you love a home and spend the whole showing discussing how perfect the home is then a crafty Seller will use this when negotiating and hold out. Conversely, if you like a home but comment only on things that need fixing, this too could affect your chances in a multiple offer situation. The final reason is human nature. Other’s interior design choices might not be to your liking and harmless comments, or sassy ones depending on your humor, can sour negotiations before they start.

4. Be cautious if you’re bringing loved ones or children.

It’s by no means an unwise decision to bring loved ones to showings or open houses. Just be careful when doing so. It can be harder to concentrate when worried about relatives and children roaming the house. Referring to rule #3 you can’t control what they’ll say or who will hear it. Well-meaning family might disclose your financial situation or issues selling your current home through flippant comments. A good rule of thumb is to bring loved ones you trust to be discreet to a second showing. I also give this rule out so Buyers can blame me for saying no to pushy relatives. Feel free to tell them your Realtor strongly suggests they don’t come on the initial showing.

5. Get a mortgage pre-approval before you offer.

This is an absolute must! Low inventory in the Twin Cities is rampant which means multiple offers. Therefore, without a mortgage pre-approval letter your offer is seen as an empty promise. It may sound harsh but it’s true. A mortgage pre-approval letter is an official document from your lender saying how much they will loan you for a home. This provides proof that you can afford the home and shows sincerity in your offer. Buyers need this letter to make them competitive in the market. Get one as soon as you can! Especially if you’re looking to purchase during the Spring Market. Getting pre-approved is the best first step to the whole process.

6. Window shop but be honest if you’re not ready to buy yet.

This one is both for the Buyer and the Realtor. We all know it’s fun seeing and exploring houses. If you’re window shopping, listing websites and open houses are the perfect place for you. You’ll get a feel for the market and ideas on what you want in a home. There is no need to be shy about not being ready to buy yet. If you’re at an open house, go ahead and tell the hosting agent you’re just looking around and scoping out the market. Realtors are used to curious neighbors and people only dipping their toes into the home search. We appreciate people being honest with us so we don’t get the Seller’s hopes up.

I hope this advice helps you feel more confident as you move through the process of buying a home. Be sure to read some of our other blog posts including:

  1. 5 Ways to Update on a Budget
  2. Decluttering in 3 Steps
  3. The New OCR System Just Upgraded Self-Employed Mortgages


If you have any questions, please let us know. We’re always happy to help!

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