If you’re in the throes of house hunting, chances are you’re excited—whether it’s your first home or your fifth. It’s an emotional roller-coaster ride!
Seeing something you love (or hate) can often cause you to blurt all kinds of things, some of which you might regret. Because while you can (and should) always be upfront with your Realtor®, you might not want to be quite so candid around the sellers (or the listing agent working for them). The reason? Just like in “Law & Order,” what you say can—and will—be used against you.
So before you step into a home and stick your foot in your mouth, heed these top things never to say to sellers or their agents when you’re shopping for new digs.
‘This is my dream house!’
You ever play poker? Well then you should know that if you want to maintain a strong negotiating position, never tip your hand, advises Ryan Gibbons. Interested parties who express their unbridled passion for a home are shooting themselves.
“These are the kind of things that can help the sellers snag more money out of the buyers, because they really know how much this house means to them,” he notes. “All discussions about the house and any negotiating strategies are best left in private.” Not that you shouldn’t say a few nice things—just don’t gush. Gushing = bad.
‘That couch is hideous’
“Don’t tell the sellers—or any agent present—that they have poor taste in decor or furniture,” says Naveed Shah, a Realtor with Keller Williams. “Their style might not suit yours, but that’s no reason to insult them. If they hear you bad-mouthing their rug or curtains, then they might just pick another buyer.”
‘I can afford to spend X’
While it’s certainly a good idea for prospective buyers to find out just how much they can afford, they should keep that intel strictly between them and their Realtor.
“A prospective home buyer should never address with a seller or seller’s agent anything concerning their financing or ability to pay a full-price offer,” says Maryjo Shockley, a Realtor with Keller Williams. “This hampers the ability to negotiate the fairest price for the property.” If asked, just say, “Finding a fairly priced home is what matters to us more than the amount we can afford.” It works!
‘I can’t wait to get rid of that’
Even if you’re thinking, “This place will be perfect once I get my hands on it,” don’t let on, notes Betsy Bingle an associate broker with LintonBingle Associate Brokers.
“If the new buyers are going to renovate a home in which someone raised a family and has truckloads of memories, a buyer should never say ‘I can’t wait to rip that swingset out’ or ‘That wall color is horrible—can’t wait to repaint this place,’” she says.
“The seller can easily reject their offer or come back asking for more money upon hearing that someone wants to totally remake the place where they made lifelong memories,” she adds.
‘Why are you selling?’
Yes, you may very well be curious to find out why sellers have put their home on the market. Keep it to yourself! It’s considered poor taste to ask, and it may open a can of worms.
“Never ask the sellers why they are selling,” explains Realtor Klara Madlin of Klara Madlin Real Estate. “There may be personal reasons like divorce or job relocation or something worse—none of it your business.” Opening up a possibly uncomfortable situation will not help you down the road should a bidding war emerge.
‘What’s it really like to live here?’
Sure, you want the inside scoop, but that doesn’t mean you get to interrogate the townsfolk.
“Don’t ask the neighbors intrusive questions. By all means, talk to them and give them a chance to open up, but don’t push if they’re not talkative,” Shah says. If you do wind up moving into the neighborhood, do you really want your first impression to be that of a pest or a spy?
‘You’ll never get that price!’
Though you might be thinking “I wouldn’t give them X amount for that house,” as a buyer it’s best for you to keep your thoughts and opinions to yourself, notes Cara Ameer, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker. Even if a buyer thinks a home is priced on the high side, it could very well be within range of comparables in the neighborhood. Which leads to our next point…
‘I’ll give you [an extremely lowball offer] for this house, whaddaya say?’
“Don’t ask your agent to submit multiple lowball offers,” says Shah. “Take your agent’s advice when it comes to pricing”— because it’s never wise to insult the person whose home you’re trying to buy and you don’t want to appear as a not-so-serious buyer. Please, don’t insult the seller.
Think buyers are the only ones who need to choose their words carefully? Hardly—tune in later to hear what home sellers should never, ever say.