Do you remember the movie Pretty Woman? Of course you do. Rags to Riches, Sin and Redemption, Prostitute Becomes Damsel in Distress … particularly the shopping. Ah, the shopping. Remember the first time Vivian goes out to find a cocktail dress, sporting her hooker boots and crop top, snubbed by the boutique sales staff? She simply doesn’t fit — from her garb to her makeup to her mannerisms. Since she doesn’t fit in such an expensive (and, admittedly, pretentious) world, the genuinely good things offered by that world are inaccessible to her.
Most folks, if asked, would say that it’s generally not okay to burp directly into someone else’s face. Or cut in line at the supermarket. Or talk with food in your mouth, or interrupt someone while they’re speaking*. Everyday manners are pretty widely acknowledged, or at least understood. (Whether they are practiced is another discussion.)
If this is your first time buying a home, however, there may be points of etiquette with which you are unfamiliar. We’re going to discuss how best to fit into the world of buying and selling houses, so that the good things offered by this world — a pleasant transaction that brings joy and not anxiety, a home you’ll be happy in, a “great deal” — will be much more accessible to you.
DO know the difference between SHOPPING and HUNTING. Shopping is a hobby, a pleasure, a way to pass the time. I enjoy it, too — even home shopping. Hunting, however, is time-limited and goal-driven. REALTORS® are hunting guides, not shopping partners. If you just enjoy browsing through houses, Open Houses are made for you. Parade of Homes, Showcase of Homes, etc. are all great ways to get your “fix”.
DO your homework before you start; DON’T start hunting before you know what you need (and can get). Get a good idea of what your personal goals are in the transaction. You know this. What must you have? What can you afford?
DO be honest from the get-go. What challenges may you, yourself, bring to the table? Do you get angry, frustrated, impatient, or defensive easily? Do you have a huge amount of trouble making decisions? Are you the only decision maker, or will you need someone else’s go-ahead? Don’t blindside the people who are trying to help you. If we know you have an issue, we can help you make a good decision despite it. If we don’t, we can’t.
DO respect others’ time and work, just as you want others to respect yours. Whether we admit it or not, much of the work of Real Estate is done on the evenings and weekends. Many of the people who buy houses work for a living (surprise!) so their time to house-hunt is limited. However, that doesn’t mean that evenings and weekends are open season. Ask your agent and lender when the best time to call will be, and try to keep evening and weekend appointments to a minimum if possible. If that’s the only time available, then make each appointment count.
Don’t expect everyone else to be on your timeframe. There are deadlines on a contract, and there are other buyers looking at the same houses you are. The phrase “time is of the essence” means that it’s important to get ‘er done. You don’t have forever to deliberate.
Don’t ask your agent to take you to houses that don’t meet your criteria; you’re wasting your own time and theirs.
Don’t be surprised or upset if your agent gives advice you weren’t expecting. You’ve hired an agent to help you through a difficult and complicated process. They are trained and experienced in it; you are not. Acknowledge the limitations of your knowledge and keep an open mind.
Don’t give up easily, but also don’t expect perfection. It may take a while to find a great house that you can be happy in, but be sure that you can recognize it when you see it. Keep your must have criteria firmly in mind during showings, and remember that most of the things that make a house “feel” exceptional, beautiful, and welcoming are the easiest to change. Those are the colors, the lighting, and the finishes (oh, right, and the CLEANLINESS). Sometimes there’s a beautiful girl hiding behind the glasses and 80’s hair.
*emergencies excepted – if they’re about to be attacked by a crocodile or their plaid polyester pants are catching fire, for example.