January marks the unofficial start of the spring real estate market. If you are one of the many people looking to purchase a home in 2022, you will inevitably start spending a lot of time touring homes. Here are some unwritten rules of house hunting to help make your showings more efficient.

Try to Time Your Restroom Breaks

We get it. It has been a long day of viewing houses and if you have to go… you have to go. However, using the restroom at the house on your tour isn’t always appropriate. Some homes are winterized or under construction, meaning the water has been shut off. This could result in a very awkward situation if you use the restroom and try to flush with no water.  Trust us, it isn’t pretty. Even if the bathroom is fully operational, monopolizing it while other families are trying to view the home isn’t the best look either. Our advice, try to stop somewhere on the way to your next showing. Our agents always leave extra time in-between showings to allow our clients a restroom or coffee break without feeling rushed.

Limit the Size of Your Party

Buyers often ask if they can bring their friends or extended family on showings. Before COVID, our answer was typically “YES!” Recently, sellers have started to limit the number of people allowed in their home at a given time. We have also seen sellers expressly prohibit children under a certain age from attending the showing unless they can be carried. That is a bit extreme and we never discourage our clients from bringing their own children on showings whenever possible. However, in the interest of efficiency, leave everyone else home. If the person isn’t directly involved in the purchase of the home, they probably don’t need to attend the initial showing. Buyers are given a very short amount of time to view the home so you should give the showing your undivided attention.

Watch What You Say

In Massachusetts, sellers have to disclose if there are video or audio recording taking place during your showing. However, we advise our clients to assume they are being recorded, whether it is disclosed or not. Almost every home we visit has a device capable of recording what you say so it is best to reserve your comments for when you are in private. Buyers don’t want their negotiation strategy to be broadcast to the seller before they even submit their offer.

Always Remove Your Shoes

When viewing houses, wear a comfortable pair of shoes that you can get on and off easily. Many homes have a sign at the front door asking buyers to remove their shoes or to put shoe-coverings on the their feet before entering the house. The number of people we see ignore this simple request is crazy. Besides tracking dirt and germs through the home, wearing shoes indoors can be culturally offensive and the request to remove shoes should always be honored. Wearing shoes inside can also cause damage. On more than once occasion, I have seen newly refinished hardwood floors ruined because people walked on them in heels. I personally travel with a pair of clean house slippers that I wear inside during a showing.

Don’t Call the List Agent Directly

If you are working with a buyer’s agent, do not reach out to the listing agent directly. Your agent works for you and your best interests. They will be able to schedule showings and get the answers to all your questions about a home. The listing agent works for the seller. Any information you give about yourself to the listing agent or builder’s representative is not confidential and will be reported back to the seller. This can seriously hurt your ability to negotiate if you choose to submit an offer. If you attend an Open House without your agent, always include your agent’s information on the sign-in sheet.