20 Things to Never Say While House Hunting
Looking for a new home is pretty exciting. It can also be confusing, frustrating and stressful. With your emotions running high, it’s no wonder you might say something inappropriate. But it will serve you well to think before you speak. Whether you love a house or wouldn’t live under its roof if it was the last place on earth, certain comments are best saved for the car ride home.
Here are 20 things to never say while house hunting.
Phrase No. 1
You might want to jump for joy and start high-fiving everyone within reach when you finally step into your forever home. Don’t.
“Keep your emotions in check,” said real estate broker Gill Chowdhury of Warburg Realty. He likens it to playing poker: “You don’t scream out in joy when you land pocket aces. So don’t scream out in joy when you step into your dream home and realize it.”
Real estate broker James McGrath of Yoreevo agrees that there’s no upside to saying how much you love the house in front of the listing agent, and that it can go against you. “They're just going to turn around and tell the seller, which will embolden them a bit during negotiations,” he said.
Phrase No. 2
How would you feel if a stranger walked into your home and told you how much they hated your sofa? Most people wouldn’t take it too well. Bear that in mind when you view a house. You might not share the seller’s taste in home decor, but that’s no reason to insult them. They might just take even the most casual comment about a rug or a lamp personally and pick another buyer.
Phrase No. 3
It’s normal for someone to walk into their potential new home and think, “This will look great once I’ve got my hands on it.” But it’s a thought best kept to yourself. Remember that the seller likely has lots of memories attached to this house, particularly if they’ve raised a family there. Forcing them to imagine it with their kids’ beloved swing set ripped out or the kitchen they built by hand relegated to the dumpster might cause them to reject your offer — or come back asking for more money.
Phrase No. 4
You have every right to think a house is overpriced, but try not to say so in front of the seller or the agent. The seller might take it as an insult on the quality of their home, and the agent might take offense at the suggestion that they don’t have the ability to accurately value a property.
Phrase No. 5
Another quick way to insult a seller (and the agent) is to make a rock-bottom offer. More importantly, it might get you written off as a frivolous buyer, which can go against you on future offers. By all means, make an offer below the asking price if you genuinely feel it’s a fair one, but if you make multiple ridiculously low offers, the agent is going to want to avoid you at all costs.
Phrase No. 6
It’s one thing to bash a house by saying how much work it needs, that it’s not your first choice, that you don’t like X, Y and Z about it. If you then proceed to make a low offer, the agent might suspect you were trying to convince them the house was worth less than they thought. “Personally, I don’t take those buyers as seriously,” said McGrath.
Phrase No. 7
You’re probably curious about why the sellers have put their home on the market, but it’s advisable to keep those types of questions to yourself. Not only is it considered poor taste to ask, you might open up a can of worms that works against you further down the line if you end up in a bidding war. You don’t want to be remembered as the viewer who stuck their nose into the seller’s divorce, grief or job loss.
Phrase No. 8
Basically, anything about your financial situation isn’t for sharing with the seller or the listing agent. “Any realtor that you have not entered into a client relationship with should be treated as opposing counsel,” said Ian Gordon, co-principal and real estate broker at Coldwell Banker Bain. “Anything you say to an agent at an open house, for example, may be used for the benefit of the seller as the agent has a client relationship with the seller and not you.”
For example, if a listing is at $600,000 and you tell the agent you’re pre-approved for up to $750,000, you can bet they’re going to tell their sellers to dig in their heels — they know you can afford way more.
On the other hand, when you hire a realtor, it’s vital that they know everything about your situation so that they use that information to help you to their best ability. “Much like an attorney or doctor, your realtor needs to know everything,” said Gordon.
Phrase No. 9
“Perfect” is subjective when it comes to house hunting — everyone has different things at the top of their wish list. You should have a clear idea in your mind of what you’re looking for, but try not to be too picky. If you turn up your nose at a less-than-attractive home, you might miss a diamond in the rough. Things like ugly paint colors and dated furniture can easily be changed.
At the same time, red flags that should be taken seriously are signs of neglect, such as a run-down yard, mold or suspicious odors.
Phrase No. 10
You might have a dozen properties to get through, but it’s disrespectful to rush through looking at a house, even if you’re not interested. Give each house the attention it deserves — you might just be surprised at what you see when you slow down and take everything in. The last thing you want to do is miss out on your dream home because you have your eye on your watch.
Phrase No. 11
It’s great to build a rapport with the people next door, but be careful when chatting to any of your potential neighbors. While they can give you a valuable opinion of what it’s like to live in the area, it’s important to respect their boundaries. In other words, know when to back off — or you might get a reputation as the nosy neighbor before you’ve even moved in.
Phrase No. 12
If you have any kind of social media presence, you can be tracked down pretty easily. Talk at length about your personal life, or give away any details that could be used to find you on Facebook, and a savvy agent can do a bit of snooping to figure out what your budget is, and how to push your buttons.
“An excellent way to keep the agent from asking too many questions is to hand your agent’s business card to them at the open house,” advised Gordon. “That will typically make the listing agent remain quiet, and it will allow you to see the home without being followed around, too!”
Phrase No. 13
Waiving a home inspection might make your offer more appealing, but it won’t do you any favors in the long term — and could lead to a world of pain if there are expensive issues with the property. “Unless you are a contractor and know exactly what you are looking for when walking through a home, it is very risky to not have a home inspection conducted,” said Alex Glaser, a real estate agent with Long & Foster. “Most home buyers and even realtors can not identify potentially extremely expensive issues with a home.”
If you’re competing for a home that has multiple offers, Glaser suggests offering to not ask for repairs instead of waiving the inspection. He also recommends ensuring the inspection is written in such a way that you can still terminate the contract if you’re not satisfied with the results. “This makes the offer more appealing to the sellers as they know you won’t nitpick them with repair requests and also protects you from buying a money pit of a house,” he said.
Phrase No. 14
Just because you can get a loan that allows you to use little to no down payment does not mean you should. “Putting down a larger down payment has many benefits to you as a home buyer,” said Glaser. “First of all, if you put at least 20 percent down payment for a conventional mortgage there will be no mortgage insurance, which saves you money. Anything less than 20 percent requires mortgage insurance and the lower your down payment, the more you will end up paying in mortgage insurance.”
Another benefit to putting down a larger down payment is if you end up competing to buy a home that has multiple offers, you have a better chance of getting your offer accepted. “If your offer price is similar to another buyer's offer, a home seller will look at the other terms of the offer like loan type and how much of a down payment you plan to put down,” said Glaser. “Typically, the higher the down payment the more qualified the buyer is, therefore less likely for issues with financing later on in the process.”
Phrase No. 15
As well as watching what you say in front of the seller and the agent, take care not to reveal too much in front of other buyers. Be courteous, but cautious. If you say things like “We could knock down this wall let more light in,” you’re giving them ideas, making the house more attractive, and potentially increasing your competition. Without getting too dramatic about it, treat them like the enemy.
Phrase No. 16
In a hot real estate market, homes sell fast — and it’s not unusual for buyers to want to make an offer on a home without seeing it in person first. But no amount of photos, videos, 3D tours or video chat walkthroughs can give you the full picture of the home and neighborhood, warns Glaser. Avoid buyer’s remorse and take the time to see the house in person.
Phrase No. 17
According to real estate analyst Emile L'Eplattenier, all estate agents have a simple rule when it comes to prioritizing their time. “People who need to move within the next six months come first, followed by people who are looking at properties 30 percent more expensive than what I usually sell, followed by people who are pre-qualified,” he said. “Everyone else comes after that.”
If you want to get a prominent place in an agent’s schedule — especially in the busy season — bear this in mind and hold off on telling them that you're “just looking.”
Phrase No. 18
If you approach house hunting with your heart set on the best house in the best area, but without the budget to match, you’ll be disappointed and your realtor will quickly tire of your demands.
“Sure, I can take the time to convince you otherwise, but this will generally involve dozens of showings to prove that your expectations are not in line with reality,” said L’Eplattenier. “Unless you're an otherwise slam dunk buyer, I'm putting you at the bottom of my to-do list.”
Phrase No. 19
Divulging your price range to the seller or the seller’s agent is a recipe for disaster. “Buyers often submit an offer below list price to see if the seller jumps at the offer,” said Earl White, real estate agent and co-founder of House Heroes Realty. “But if the seller knows you’re willing to pay list price, they will insist on it — even if they previously might have accepted a lower number.” A seller can also increase their asking price at any time or demand more favorable contract terms, and they’re more likely to take these actions if they believe you’ll pay more.”
Phrase No. 20
If you have an immediate need for housing, it can be hard to keep your desire to finish your home search to yourself. But if you share this with a seller, don’t expect negotiations to go your way. “Sellers will more likely insist on a higher price and better terms if you disclose that you are in a rush,” said White.