What’s your advice for someone attending a property showing?

When you are viewing a property that is for sale, it is really important to remember that you are stepping into someone else’s home and personal living space. As you would in anyone’s home, use your discretion and be respectful when exploring the property.

Here are some things to keep in mind before attending your next showing.

Be punctual. Arrive on time for your scheduled appointment and leave before your allotted time is up. If you feel like you need more time, ask your agent to set up another showing. You should know that the agent also has rules to follow when scheduling, and that delays could affect your next showing or that of the next buyer who wants to see the property.

Be polite. Be sure to follow the guidance of your real estate agent and adhere to any specific showing protocols. Be a courteous guest by taking off your shoes, unless there are specific instructions not to, turning off all lights you may have turned on once you are done looking at a particular room, and being careful not to track in dirt if you step outside. Don’t lounge on the homeowner’s furniture or be tempted to use any of the items in the home, such as electronics, game tables or appliances. Don’t use the washroom without permission.

Refrain from any negative comments until you have left the property. Homes are personal, and how they are maintained or decorated will vary from person to person. Even if the way the property has been kept is not quite your style or preference, it is inappropriate to criticize while on the premises. Your agent might not want you to make positive comments either, for the reasons noted below. If there are any specific issues you are concerned about, write them down to discuss with your agent once you have left the showing.

Assume there are cameras inside and outside the home. More and more people are choosing to install cameras to protect their properties. You should be aware that the homeowners are under no obligation to disclose this since it is their private property. The video could pick up bad conduct as well as favourable comments, which might give the seller an edge when negotiating price if they know you really love the property.

Respect the homeowners’ privacy. Don’t open drawers or touch any of their personal belongings. If you are unsure whether you can look at something (such as inside a closet to see how spacious it is), get permission from the agent first.

You cannot take video or photos without permission. I understand that people like to capture some snapshots to share with friends and family for a second opinion or to compare with other properties they may have previously seen. If that’s something you’d like to do, make sure to get consent from the homeowners prior to the showing.

If you are not able to do that, remember that agents typically have lots of photos, videos and virtual tours at their disposal. In the event that you are looking for a photo of something specific that the agent does not have, ask them to seek approval from the homeowner’s agent. The homeowner may give you permission to take the photo or they might offer to take it and send it to your agent.

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email information@reco.on.ca.

This column is for general information purposes only and is not meant as legal or professional advice on real estate transactions.

Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.

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