While buying a house is a rare occurrence for most people — something that may happen only a handful of times in an individual’s lifetime — real estate agents deal with it daily. It’s their job. Each agent probably has a list of topics buyers should not do, but here’s three common don’ts when purchasing a house.
1. Don’t be a lookie-loo
Real estate agents earn their income when houses sell, so when buyers look at properties outside their price range, it can waste the agent’s time as well as the buyer’s. Pam Harper, a real estate agent with Dean Gilbert Century 21 Realtors, said when buyers ask to look at houses that are not a real option, it makes it that much longer to find a house for them.
“But more than anything, I think they forget how the seller feels because when we make an appointment to show the property the seller thinks they have a viable client,” Harper said.
When a seller and the seller’s agent agree to open up a house for a showing, they think the buyers are serious, and they want feedback on a property. Harper said sometimes she may show properties a little over the price range as there’s typically room to negotiate, but she doesn’t make it a practice to show houses a buyer can’t qualify for.
“If you got somebody then, what I call a lookie-loo, you’re really not doing a good service to that buyer as their agent if you show them way outside their range,” Harper said.
2. Don’t make a lowball offer
Lowballing an offer, Harper said, is her favorite thing to dislike. She said she has been asked if a certain lowball offer will offend the sellers, and her answer is yes.
“And I’ll say ‘yes, it would — it would offend me,’” Harper said. “Would it offend you?”
Harper said an offer that’s off by a large amount is off-putting, and the seller may just reject it outright without responding to it. An offer off by a little can sometimes work as long as there is room for negotiating, she said.
Debbie Hudnall, a real estate agent with Virginia Cook Realtors, said with the state of local market geared for sellers, there isn’t room for lowball offers.
“Because of high demand, we don’t have enough listings,” Hudnall said. “When you have a shortage of properties for sale, you don’t lowball anybody because there are multiple offers on every property. That’s what’s happening right now.”
Hudnall said even asking for seller contribution toward closing costs is out the door right now, but there may be room to negotiate after inspections — for the sellers to come off of the asking price in lieu of repairs.
3. Don’t make any major purchases before closing
After buyers get qualified for a home loan, Hudnall said they should not make any large purchases that could affect their credit score. Clients set to close on a house have lost the house because they have made purchases like a vehicle or new furniture, she said.
“I’ve seen people go and buy a new vehicle the day before closing,” Hudnall said. “They check their credit scores and it changed, so that vehicle will prevent them from buying a house.”
The loan process relies on buyers having a certain credit-to-debt ratio, so making these large purchases before a house is purchased can disrupt that ratio.
“Don’t go buy that new truck; don’t buy any furniture; don’t buy anything until after you get the house,” Harper said. “Because their credit is all set up — their credit score and everything is perfect.”
While the above don’ts do not occur all the time, most agents have experienced versions of these issues in their careers. Agents do recommend that buyers be respectful of the agent’s time, be honest with them, trust them and listen to the agents’ advice.
“Most of the people that I’ve worked with over the years have been very kind, considerate and I haven’t had too much problems in that respect,” Harper said.