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Answers to 8 Questions You’re Afraid to Ask Your Realtor

It’s a marathon house-hunting day. As you check out listing number five’s quartz counter tops, it suddenly hits you: “Oh man, I have to pee.”

Should you, or shouldn’t you?

Navigating the do’s and don’ts can be totally awkward, so here are few things buyers secretly want to know.

Can you use the bathroom?

If you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go – but don’t just wander off and take care of business. It might not work in every house. Literally.

Vacant houses may have the water shut off, so there’s no way to flush. That’s something you really want to know before you go.

And if you’re at a busy open house, being in the loo for more than a minute means other potential buyers can’t check out the facilities – and may not want to after you’ve done your business.

To be safe, schedule in a few pit stops at restaurants or gas stations along the way. Or at the very least, make sure to ask the Realtor first.

Is it OK to bring my coffee?

For some house hunters, asking them to forgo their coffee qualifies as “cruel and unusual punishment”. But if you’re carrying a drink, be careful! If you spill on a rug or carpeting, be prepared to pay the cleaning bill.

Food, on the other hand, is a no-no; unless the seller has left out cookies. In that case, take a cookie, but eat it in the kitchen. Preferably over a napkin.

Can I peek in the closet?

Absolutely. Buying a home is probably the biggest purchase you’re ever going to make, and you need to check out everything.

Basically, look all you want, but don’t rifle through their belongings. You’re shopping for closet space, not a new wardrobe.

How about taking pictures inside the home?

With smartphones practically being an appendage for many buyers, snapping pictures is easy and sometimes almost automatic for some people. It’s easier to compare houses later at home if you’re viewing a number of houses if you have pictures.  So feel free to snap some key photos, but don’t share. Sellers may have objects in their home that they don’t want on social media. Respect their privacy.

Can I plop down on that chaise lounge?

Most real estate agents are not comfortable with buyers sitting or lying on furniture. Feeling comfortable enough to want to sit on the furniture might be a good sign that a potential buyer might be ready to put in an offer; however, it isn’t your furniture and you’re not buying it. If you need to sit, for health reasons or that sprained ankle from your last marathon, just ask. And be prepared to sit on a kitchen chair not the cream velvet sofa.

Can I bring my mother, father, uncle, contractor, psychic or some other person with me to the showing?

Feel free to bring someone along for a second opinion, especially if it’s your first home or you’re buying the home by yourself and not with a partner. This is a big decision and it’s not unreasonable to want a second opinion. However, please limit the number of extra people to one or two. The real estate agent’s job isn’t to entertain all of your family and friends. Additionally, the seller might not want a crowd of people traipsing through their home. Remember, you don’t own it, yet!

Does this home have any type of unusual history?

If you’re worried about ghosts or just get the shivers at the thought that someone may have died in the house; just ask your Realtor. If your Realtor is aware if anyone has died in the home or of any other strange occurrences that might have taken place; they should tell you. For the most part, a Realtor needs to divulge information about any factual event to you. However, that doesn’t mean the Realtor is going to or should share with you gossip about a shadow in a window or lights flickering for no reason.

Am I allowed to turn the faucet or shower on?

As long as the utilities are turned on; feel free to check the water pressure by turning on faucets or showers. Just make sure to turn the water off completely and not to let it run excessively long. If you buy the home, you will have to live with the water pressure so you might as well check it.

The bottom line is the old-fashioned Golden Rule: Do unto others’ homes as you’d want them to do unto yours.

By Bonnie Marlow, Realtor

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