Last week was National Etiquette Week. Was it a faux pas for me to not Blog about this earlier?
Etiquette, in 18th century France: A book in which court ceremonies were noted down or labeled. Our current definition refers to “the practices and forms prescribed by social convention or by authority.” “Etiquette”, today, is French for price tag.
When I hear reference to this word, I cannot help imagining someone standing before me with price tags hanging from both sleeves and the back of his or her neck. Several price tags, in fact. Each tag is positioned strategically, providing a brief reminder about social rules we associate with different gestures or parts of the body. On the right hand, brief “perfect hand shake tips”; on the left arm, guidelines for proper elbow-sneezing technique; on the collar, “chin up, make eye contact, smile”, and so on. In this scenario, a red tag would indicate lack of “savoir faire”.
Online Real Estate Forums provide a wealth of comments and feedback regarding common, though avoidable, faux pas from sellers, buyers and their agents. Here are some “red tags” of notice, just so you know.
Buyer Red Tags
You make an appointment to see a home, but show up late. If this is unavoidable, perhaps due to traffic or getting slightly lost on the way, make sure you have the proper numbers on you to call and notify the other party. Assuming it’s ok because you will arrive “in just a few minutes” is definitely a red tag.
You are a close-knit family and want your children to view homes with you; however, you find you spend a good portion of your home touring day being distracted by the children. Red tag.
If there is a Company For Sale sign in front of a house, the seller is working with a listing agent. Pressuring the seller to let you in on the spur of the moment and to answer your questions is definitely a red tag and not to your advantage. The seller may not be able to answer all your questions with as much detail as you need.
Seller Red Tag
Leave the power on! The buyer wants the ability to discover issues with light switches and such early on in the process of exploring your home, instead of encountering surprises at the time of inspection. A disclosed issue can often be negotiated, even disregarded. A concealed issue is a red tag for trust.
The water is turned off. The toilet won’t flush. The sinks are dry and there is no way to wash or dry one’s hands. Red tag. The buyer may touch a sticky doorknob (another red tag, by the way) and need to wash his hands. Some buyers travel far to view homes in your neighborhood.
The buyer arrives at your home and is greeted by an affectionate cat and the not-so-affectionate smell of her litter box. Double red tag. If you are working with a listing agent, buyers will view your home by appointment. This gives you a chance to arrange for the pets to be isolated or at a friend’s house.
Agent Red Tags
You are working with your own Real Estate agent to sell your home. An agent from another company calls you directly on behalf of his buyer. Red Tag. Kindly request he or she contact your listing agent. Also notify your agent. This is clearly not good practice.
Business has picked up and you have several showings lined up on the same day, at least this is what sellers and buyers assume is the reason why you showed up a half hour late, or did not show up at all. Buzz, buzz, and double red tag. Use this trick: Instead of a specific time, provide a reasonable time range. Say, “I’ll meet you there between 2:00 and 2:30”.
Your seller has agreed to host an Open House. Visitors and other area Realtors arrive and find you sitting at the kitchen counter with a book. You greet them, inviting them to take some documentation and move about the house as they please, and return your attention to your book. Red tag, no matter how courteous you are. Give everyone your full attention, even if they are fellow Realtors.
Lapses in proper etiquette can be at times annoying, at times downright disturbing and at time funny, but one thing is certain: they send a strong message and it is not a positive one. As for the funny red tags, here is a little gem encountered on a Real Estate Forum a while back.
A Realtor was showing a house whose seller had requested, “Do not let the cat out”. After showing the property, on the way out, the Realtor notices a cat on the porch, trying to get in. Oops! No harm done, thankfully. The cat was glad to be picked up and allowed back inside. The next day, the listing agent calls the Realtor with this question: “What happened to the cat?” The Realtor admits the cat slipped out, but was promptly returned inside. The listing agent responds: “That was not their cat!”