When a home is on the market, the seller’s privacy goes out the window. It is almost guaranteed that some buyers will open drawers, peek inside cabinets and touch items that are obviously personal and not included in the sale.
Coming home from work to find that the impeccably-made bed you left in the morning is now covered in a ball of linens is obviously annoying. Constant requests to extend deadlines, lists of demands and nitpicking the condition of the home are not only time consuming and insulting, but they do nothing to endear the buyer to the seller.
These are just a few examples of homebuyers behaving badly. Depending on the market, however, buyers are not necessarily in the driver’s seat. During periods of multiple offers and heavy investor involvement, it’s important for buyers to be on their best behavior. So, dear homebuyer, read on to learn how to not turn off the seller of your potential dream home.
The Time Bandits
Savvy home sellers spend a great deal of time ensuring that the home is presentable during the marketing period. They clean, de-clutter, and then inconvenience themselves by skedaddling before any potential buyers show up. Buyers that cancel appointments at the last minute, or just don’t bother to show up, are behaving quite badly.
Unless an emergency came up, and there was no time to call your agent or the seller, try to provide the seller with at least several hours’ notice that you won’t be arriving to tour the home. It’s the polite thing to do, and it just might save the seller from needlessly preparing for your arrival.
“Time is of the essence” is a phrase that you’ll see in most real estate purchase contracts. What it means is that all specified deadlines in the agreement are mandatory – well, sort of. Yes, you can request the extension of a date and it will most likely be granted, if the reason for the request is compelling enough.
Frivolous requests, however, or those made repeatedly, are big time wasters. Sellers are frequently on a tight schedule to get the transaction to the closing table. Just as you are excited to get into your new home, the seller has plans as well. Keeping contract deadline extension requests to a minimum is one way you can contribute to a smooth transaction.
Then there is the homebuyer that, once the ink dries on the contract, treats the home as if it’s unoccupied and equipped with a revolving door. One week it’s an interior decorator that needs access to take measurements, then, perhaps, the next week it will be the architect. Many buyers want to show family members their new home – before it is actually their new home.
The seller, in the meantime, is packing for the move, having repairs completed, accommodating the appraiser and inspectors – all while attempting to live a normal life. Additional home tours are more than an inconvenience, they are time stealers.
If you must gain access to the home, ask your agent to find out when the inspector or appraiser will be there and arrange to visit at the same time.
Nitpicking is neither a successful price-reduction nor negotiating strategy, as buyers who have tried it can likely attest. Bankrate.com’s Dana Dratch calls these buyers “gladiator wannabes,” who, after they’ve agreed to purchase a home, come in with a long list of things that are wrong with it, or a list of concessions.
The art of negotiating depends on give and take – not a barrage of one-sided demands. Let your real estate agent do the negotiating. If you truly feel that something that is wrong with the house commands a price reduction, your agent should be able to justify it with a list of comparables and reasons why the home doesn’t stack up.
There are several reasons why a real estate agent will suggest that a buyer get fully approved for a loan before submitting an offer. Buyers that don’t take this important step will run the risk of derailing the entire transaction.
Even a pre-approval commitment from a lender isn’t firm. Once the loan application is in the hands of the underwriter, anything can happen. Many times, a buyer will receive a letter from the bank – in the middle of a transaction – listing all the conditions that must be met before the loan is approved. Satisfying these conditions not only takes time, but, depending on the conditions, may result in a cancelled sale.
Take the time to work with your lender to ensure that you will get the loan before committing to purchase a home. Don’t make any major purchases until the home closes escrow. Entering into the process knowing that you’ll get the loan is not only a courtesy to the seller, but the peace of mind it will give you is priceless.
Both parties in a real estate transaction have schedules that need to be accommodated during the purchase process and, of course, sellers can behave badly as well. (We’ll take a look at that in a future article). Respecting each other’s needs helps make the transaction run smoother and more comfortably for all concerned.