A listing agent may have shown a prospective buyer a specific house two or three times. Now the buyer wants another showing, which is surely a good sign that she’s ready to make an offer. The buyer also tells the agent that she wants to bring her new boyfriend, best friend, out-of-town parents or co-worker with her to the showing.
Well meaning as these confidants might be, they may inadvertently side track the home search or kill off the opportunity for what could have been the perfect home for the buyer. Here’s why, and what you can do to avoid it.
You’ve Been on a Journey—Without Your Friends or Family
As a buyer, you often go on a journey through the homebuying process. It starts with dipping your foot in the water and feeling out the real estate market. The journey ends with a solid knowledge of the recent sales, the details on the neighborhood or neighborhoods where you want to buy and concrete information on the values and what you should be paying. You may have toured hundreds of homes and even made a few offers before you’re ready to buy. But now you are ready and willing to pay the market price for the house and location.
Now you feel it’s time to show someone the home you want to buy. You bring in a third party. But here’s the potential drawback: Your friends and family haven’t been on your homebuying journey. They’re most likely not familiar with the market, the current home values or the neighborhood. Without that information, they might instantly think you’re paying too much — and they’ll be quite vocal about it. Your well-meaning friend or parents from another state might think your dream home is really a nightmare.
Maybe You Shouldn’t Show the House to These People
Do you have a friend who lives in a brand new home with a designer kitchen and spa-like baths? He might be quick to disapprove of the Formica countertops and knotty pine cabinets you already know need to be replaced.
Maybe you got the house for a lot less than the listing price. Or you and the seller negotiated an amazing credit to replace the furnace, upgrade the old electrical panel or replace the dry-rot filled deck. Chances are, the people you bring to tour the property won’t know, care or perhaps even understand these details. They’re just seeing a house and a listing flyer with the price. They don’t know the history on how you got there.
The point is, think carefully before bringing someone to see the home you’re about to buy — especially if the property needs work or is very expensive. Your well-meaning advisers may reignite last-minute doubts and anxieties you’d already worked through. Without meaning to, they can cause you to get cold feet based on emotion rather than reality.
What Should Agents Do?
Real estate agents, especially the buyer’s agent, understand this phenomenon and sometimes are conflicted when their buyers ask to bring someone to a showing. It sounds like a huge conflict of interest because most people assume the agent just wants to make the sale. So for an agent to tell a buyer not to show their parents the home would never fly.
A good agent will accommodate and even encourage you to bring someone to a showing. But the agent will also prep you to take what your friends say with a grain of salt. Only the buyer, the seller and the real estate agents involved in the transaction truly understand all the details of the deal and how it got to its current point. Your agent has been on this journey with you, and a good agent will have steered you clear of enough properties to know this is a good match.
Whom Should You Bring?
So whom, exactly, should you take to a final or near-final showing? Ideally, you should ask someone who recently went through the same process. New homeowners will have the details of their search and memories of how it went down fresh in their mind. Their experience may have brought to light issues that you need to think about. Or perhaps they recently had to make a similar decision that you’re facing. Ultimately, they’ll understand where you’re coming from and how you got there.
Your sweet parents who live out of state are probably not ideal advisers. However, they may have offered to gift you money toward the down payment, and of course they’ll want to see the house. Depending on how you’ve structured the deal with your folks, they might even technically be investors. If that’s the case, they have some say in the matter, and you should take them to the showing.
Be Clear in Your Intentions
Have you already made your decision, and you just want to share your excitement with your friend? Great. If so, be clear up front by saying something like, “I know you may think this has some issues or you may not love the house, but I do and I know the market really well and the deal is done.” It’s not that you’re closing the door on a conversation; you’re just directing it so it will be helpful.
Alternatively, maybe you’re bringing someone by because you want approval or feedback. If so, be clear on exactly what you want to ask. Also, think about whether the person is truly qualified to answer your questions. Your dad’s uncle Ken, who used to be a handyman for the local elementary school, may be well-meaning and a sweet guy. But is he really the right person to assess the condition of the back deck or the plumbing? Probably not.