An Emily Post Etiquette Guide for Buying a Home

As in life, there is proper decorum for going about many things, and that also includes buying or selling a home. When looking at homes as a buyer, there are several unwritten rules to follow that will help ensure a smooth and successful experience, no matter what side of the doorway you are on.

The following is a guest post from Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty agent, Cara Ameer, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

As in life, there is proper decorum for going about many things, and that also includes buying or selling a home.  When looking at homes as a buyer, there are several unwritten rules to follow that will help ensure a smooth and successful experience, no matter what side of the doorway you are on.

Here our tips for buyer etiquette:

  1.  PREAPPROVAL – Get preapproved PRIOR to shopping for a home.  It can be misleading to look at a home you don’t know you qualify for – even if it is just one that you called off the “for sale” sign to see.  Remember that a seller and their agent took some time to prepare for the showing and have a reasonable expectation that the prospects coming through the home are qualified to purchase it.
  2. SCHEDULING – Work with your agent to develop a REALISTIC schedule of homes to see for the day.  If you are the type that likes to take your time when going through a property, let your agent know upfront so they don’t try to cram too much in at once.  On the other hand, if you are able to move through properties quickly, let them know that too.  Trying to see ten homes in one day is realistic, twenty properties?  Maybe not so much. Be respectful of showing time frames and the process involved to look at homes.  Each home is different – you have homes that are occupied, many with pets, children, sellers that work from home, tenant occupied, etc.  Creating a showing itinerary can be a logistical accomplishment in and of itself for an agent trying to navigate through a plethora of different situations and showing instructions.  Some homes require more advance notice than others, special instructions, etc.  Appointments trigger a flurry of communications between agents and offices trying to coordinate all details. When you go looking at homes, follow the schedule that the agent has – upfront communication and confirming the properties you plan to see before appointments are made can hopefully eliminate confusion about what is or is not going to be seen and allows the agent to plan everything out.  Give the selected properties a chance.  Driving up and deciding to nix it before you go inside is not good protocol.  Remember, there is a seller that took time to prepare for the showing and their home should be given an “at bat.”  You never know until you see it and you may need options, particularly in a low inventory market.
  3. VIEWINGS – How long is sufficient for a viewing?  There is no formal rule, but anywhere between    15-30 minutes at the most for a first showing is considered appropriate.  If you only have a few homes, taking longer may be ok, but if you are looking at 10 properties and spending a half hour in each home, it is going to be a long day, and you may not fit it all in.  You can always go back for second look and will likely need to! One to three visits is typically acceptable prior to making an offer.  If you must return for more than that, make sure this is a home you are really seriously considering and there is good reason.  If a buyer comes to the house five times and is never heard from again, that will leave a seller with more questions than answers.  Remember, you will have inspections and will be able to spend more time in the home at that time.  Key things to bring with you on the first visit – a tape measure if you are concerned about room sizes and dimensions of your furniture –  i.e. wall units, dining room table, couches, master bedroom and your tablet computer to take video and notes.
  4. ENTOURAGES – This may be ok in Hollywood, but not when looking at homes.  Try to minimize the “group field trip” effect.  Parents, relatives and friends that are so called “experts” in real estate may have the best of intentions, and while it is good to have extra sets of eyes, you may want to save that once you have narrowed down your choices to your top two or three properties.  Sometimes too many opinions can be confusing, overwhelming and actually distract you from the property search itself.  Remember it is ultimately YOUR decision, unless of course anyone in your entourage is going to be financially involved in the purchase.
  5. COMMENTARY/OPINIONATING – Avoid discussing too much while at the property, particularly out in the open.  You never know where the sellers may be lurking or what the neighbors may be overhearing that could get back to the seller.  And yes, there could be a hidden tape recorder somewhere! Wait until you get to the privacy of your vehicle or that of your agent’s to fully download.


Cara Ameer is an agent with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida and serves as a regular contributor on the local lifestyle show called First Coast Living where she covers a variety of real estate trends and topics of interest. Click here to view Cara Ameer’s profile.


Husband. Father. Socializer. Mets Lifer. TV Aficionado. Consumer Engager.

David Marine is the Chief Marketing Officer at Coldwell Banker, where he oversees the brand’s marketing efforts and content strategy including acting as managing editor for the Coldwell Banker blog and heading up video production efforts. While SVP by day, David runs a three ring circus at night as he is the father of 4 boys. He also happens to be married to Wonder Woman. True story.

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