An Etiquette Lesson



Like a ship sailing out to sea, I spoon my soup away from me.

The salt and pepper travel together.

Solids on the left.  Liquids on the right.

Etiquette can be tricky, can’t it?  When one remembers the overall goal is to make those in our company feel as comfortable as possible, etiquette can be really simple.  So, if the person on your left eats your dinner roll, the correct response is to do nothing.  Drinking another person’s wine is another issue all together and perhaps we will address that in subsequent post.

Surely, you won’t be surprised to learn that there are a few etiquette rules that pertain to real estate.  Let’s go over a few of those now.

1. Your relationship with a realtor (whether it begins and ends with a phone call or lasts for years) is a professional one.  It is a relationship that most definitely can grow into a personal one, but it is professionally based at the beginning.

2.  When you see a house you like and call the agent whose name is on the sign, his or her job is to sell the house.  Their first responsibility as a listing agent is to their seller.

3.  If you ask an agent to help you find a home, his or her first responsibility is to you, the buyer.

4.  When you see a house you like and call the agent whose name is on the sign, your job is to be honest.  What?  Yes, honest.  And while I’m on a roll here, let’s add forthcoming as well.  How can you be honest and forthcoming in this situation?   First of all, disclose important information up front.  Go ahead and share if you are already working with another agent and let the listing agent know who your agent is.  If you are not working with a local agent but will be working with an agent out of the area, definitely share that. Lastly, it’s completely fine to share that you are one of those folks that just calls the agent on the sign for every house you like.  That’s OK, too.

5.  If you have a relationship established with another realtor, don’t expect a listing agent to share her “inside the neighborhood” information with you.  Great story:  I had a listing in Five Points (that sold recently!) and received a call after the property was under contract and no longer visible on real estate websites.  I shared with the caller that the property was under contract and would close in a few days. (We cannot share the contract price until AFTER the actual closing–FYI.)   So, he asks me if I have any other properties coming on the market in Five Points in the near future.  I asked him if he was currently working with a realtor and he replied that he was and shared the name of the realtor.  He then asked me if i could just call this realtor and tell him about my future listings.  My response to him was that I share that information with MY clients first.  He and his agent would just have to watch for new listings to hit the market.

6. In your relationship with your realtor, each of you has a responsibility to continue with our theme of honesty.  For example, if you can’t afford a $500,000 home, don’t waste the realtor’s time by asking to see those.  And, your realtor shouldn’t show you the perfect house that he or she knows to be under contract.

As with all relationships, your relationship with your realtor can might be less than ideal at times.  However, because this is a professional relationship, you must share your concerns with your realtor.  He or she likely knows all the particulars about your move, desire to purchase, ability to finance, special requirements, and even some things you haven’t said.  A constructive comment like the following can go a long way and literally move things along for both of you.

Buyer:  “Callie, thanks so much for the work you are doing for us.  Remember when we said wanted hardwood floors throughout our home?  Well, every listing you’ve sent us has carpeted floors.”

Realtor:  John, thanks for reminding me about that.  I can fix that with just one click send over some different listings.


Realtor:  John, that reminds me that I forgot to tell you something.  All the homes in your price range have carpet (or the homes in the subdivision, school district you want, etc.) and I calculated the price for replacing the carpet for hardwood floors and think we can make these work.

The flip side to this conversation might go like this:

Buyer:  We really like the home on Really Expensive Avenue.  Can you set up that appointment for us?

Realtor:  I’m glad to do that.  I’d like to clarify one thing.  Are you aware that the price of this particular home is $350,000 MORE than the homes we’ve seen this week?

Buyer:  Yes.  But we’ve talked and are going to use some money my great grandmother left me.  This looks like our dream house.

In social settings, etiquette boils down to making others around you feel comfortable.  It’s not all about which fork to use and when.  In professional relationships, etiquette boils down to honesty and communication AND making others feel comfortable.  And, if you are hosting a formal dinner this evening, the graphic at the top should come in handy!

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