My father-in-law walked into the house for sale, armed with a verbal list of dos and don’ts from his family.
But some people eternally wear their heart on their sleeve and, with happy tears in his eyes, he declared to the real estate agent: “I love it! Tell the owners I’ll pay whatever they’re asking!”
Although the whole family still teases him for what we perceive as a major slip-up, he has no regrets. After all, that house he fell in love with is now his home.
But it doesn’t always have a happy ending when we reveal too much during the house hunting process. There are many things you’re best to avoid saying to any real estate agent before signing on the dotted line.
“I can’t wait to get rid of that”
If the seller is around, avoid criticising their house; if a bidding war plays out, they’ll be less likely to choose you if they dislike your take on the property.
And when it comes to discussing your plans for the house in front of the real estate agent, all this does is show your intentions to fork out good money for it.
“What I advise clients to do is to take notes as you walk through the house, and then discuss it with your spouse or partner later,” says Patrick Bright, buyers agent at EPS Property Search.
“This is my dream home”
Many real estate agents have been trained in reading body language and verbal language, in order to help them decipher your emotional interest in a property. One of the best things you can do is give out as few clues for them to read as possible.
“If you let an agent know you’re emotional about a property – through your body language, your words and your tone of voice – they can use that information for their advantage,” says Bright.
That is, if an agent can tap into your emotions, you can be sure that the price tag will go up.
“It’s very hard to hide how you feel about a property, but try to go in with the intention to remain neutral,” Bright advises.
“Let me tell you about us”
You shouldn’t give away too much personal information to a real estate agent – and it’s not for the reasons you might think.
Keeping your cards close to your chest has less to do with privacy, and more to do with not giving out clues about your interest in the property and your budget. For example, if you tell the agent what you do for a living they’ll have some pre-conceived ideas about your budget.
“If you want to keep some anonymity, set up an email address that doesn’t show your work (like Gmail or Hotmail), give your first name only, and keep communication to a minimum,” Bright suggests. “Another way to stay anonymous is to use a buyer’s agent, which means the real estate agent can’t get any clues on your budget, motivations and who you are, and they can’t push your buttons.”
“Give the real estate agent only what they need to know.”
“I’m not interested”
Despite all the dos and don’ts of house hunting, it’s important to be honest. If you’re interested in a property, don’t tell the agent you’re not keen.
It’s tricky to show genuine interest without giving away the emotion or urgency you might feel towards the house. “Walk through the home and then ring the agent later, when you’re calm and with your questions written down,” Bright says. This lets them know you’re interested so that you’re part of the conversation but doesn’t give away too much.
Bright suggests that if you’re interested, but don’t want to give too much away, you can say something like, “It’s definitely an interesting property, so keep me informed on the property’s progress”.
“This is our idea for the property”
It’s not just the real estate agent with whom you have to be careful not to reveal too much. It’s also important not to fraternise with the enemy – that is, all those other people who are wandering around the open house with you.
“Other buyers are the enemy; they’re the ones who stand between you and owning the property,” says Bright.
“Treat them like the agent and tell them nothing.”
“You might say something like, ‘We could take this wall out and then look at the view,” Bright says, “but all this does is give other buyers a bunch of ideas. You’re selling it to other buyers and increasing your competition.”