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Buyer Etiquette: Protocols for looking at owner-occupied homes

Shopping for a new home can be stressful… there’s a lot of inventory on the market right now and you want to make the right choice! But you should also remember that it’s a difficult time for the seller too. While there’s no hard “do and don’t” list for buyers looking at owner-occupied homes, there are some things you can do to make your viewings more enjoyable for you as well as your Realtor, the seller, and their agent.


Book in advance

Your Realtor will book showings on your behalf but you should have reasonable expectations about being able to enter the home. Don’t expect to be able to see a home immediately – the seller may have kids or pets to pack up, or just need time to vacate the home. Even if you stay outside – it’s not ok to just show up and walk around a seller’s yard.

Be on time

This is common courtesy for your Realtor and the seller. Your Realtor may have scheduled several properties to show you, or there may be multiple viewings scheduled for that particular home. Plus, the seller is probably sitting somewhere, waiting for the ok to go back home.

Remove your shoes

This is self-explanatory – you don’t want to track dirt into the seller’s home. If you’re concerned about your socks or bare feet, bring slippers or shoe-covers with you (some homes may even provide some).

Look within your price range

Looking at homes you can’t afford will just eat up (a lot) of time and make your decision confusing. Your Realtor will find you fabulous homes that fit your budget so you’re not wasting anyone’s time or energy.


Make yourself at home

While you may want to envision yourself living in the home, you don’t live there yet! Don’t get comfortable on the seller’s furniture or climb in their bed. While looking in cupboards and closets is acceptable, don’t dwell on the seller’s personal belongings and never go through their drawers.

If you need to use the washroom – it’s probably ok. But try to plan ahead for bathroom breaks.

Bring an entourage

It’s ok to bring your family, but if you’re seriously looking, you may want to leave the kids at home the first time so you can focus your attention on small details. If you do bring your children, make sure they stay with you at all times. You don’t want them going through the seller’s personal belongings (like kids’ toys, for example) and since you don’t know the home, you want to make sure they don’t come across something potentially unsafe. Don’t bring your pets.

Schedule a dozen viewings

Once you’ve found a contender for your dream home, it can be tempting to go back again and again. But this takes up a lot of your time, your Realtor’s time, and gets your seller’s hopes up that you’re going to put in an offer. You can request opportunities to visit the property again if you need to go onsite for inspections, obtaining measurements for renovations, etc.

Take photos

While snapping photos with your phone may seem like a good idea, it can be a violation of the seller’s privacy (would you want strangers to have photos of your personal belongings?). If you want to take photos, get permission from the seller first (your Realtor will ask for you), or instead of photos, take really good notes and debrief with your Realtor afterward so you don’t forget important details.

Bash the house or owner’s possessions

Did you hate the house – or maybe you love the home but their clown collection seriously creeped you out? It’s best to keep these discussions private with your Realtor. You don’t want to say anything that may seriously offend the seller, even if you don’t think they’re within earshot. You never when a nanny cam or security camera could be catching your conversation. Shhh!

We know how stressful finding the perfect home can be but we should be mindful that the listing process is hard for sellers too. Being respectful of everyone involved can work to your advantage (or disadvantage) during negotiations.

Written by CIR REALTY



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