Always know who the real estate agent you are working with represents. If they are the Listing Agent they represent the Seller, a Transactional Agent works for their personal benefit and even though an agent will put you in the car and drive you around and are not the listing agent, in most states they are Sub-agents for the Seller and work for the seller. It is most advisable for buyers to only work with Exclusive Buyer Agents (EBAs). If you find that you are at an open house or have called an agent and they are not an EBA…you’re your tongue. What buyers may innocently say in the presence of a Seller, Listing Agent, Transactional Agent, or Seller’s Sub-agent can be used against them during a negotiation.
While it may be tempting for buyers to say what’s on their mind during their home search, you should consider yourself in a poker game and keep your cards close to your chest and your comments to yourself. There are some things home buyers should never say on the fly.
Others may be listening. Listing agents, seller and neighbors all have motives to keep tabs on the situation — or there could be even be a camera or recording device planted somewhere. In the age of smart home security you can never be too sure.
Those off-the-cuff comments made while moving from room to room could be used against you.
Here are some obvious comments home buyers should never say when shopping for a home:
‘I love it; it’s perfect!’
That feedback goes straight to the seller.
When the less-than-full-price offer comes in and the buyer requests all sorts of concessions, how will the seller be inclined to respond?
‘That (decor, furniture, wall color) is awful!’
What were they thinking?
So maybe the sellers’ tastes are not what the buyer would pick, but that doesn’t make their choices wrong. If these comments get back to the sellers, their desire to be cooperative when offer time comes in my be less than enthusiastic.
‘This home is way overpriced’
Be careful with that statement.
While this is a common buyer thought, what happens if this house ends up being the best option? When the listing agent or seller sees the buyer’s name on an offer, they immediately tart off in a defensive position. If is is truly overpriced your Exclusive Buyer Agent should provide a comprehensive analysis during the negotiation to make this point.
‘I can afford to spend up to X’
While it’s certainly a good idea for prospective buyers to find out just how much they can afford, they should keep that information strictly between them and their Exclusive Buyer Agent. You would be surprised by the number of deals that end of at the top of your affordability range because you disclosed this to the agent that is driving you around. Insist that they develop a Comparative Market Analysis and pay no more than market value for any property regardless if you can afford to pay more. Most real estate agents have a duty to get the highest price offer for the Seller or want to get the highest price offer to get the most commission. The only type of agent that has a fiduciary responsibility to the Buyer is an Exclusive Buyer Agent, even an Accredited Buyer Agent will either be a transactional agent or sub-agent of the Seller if they are not the listing agent as well.
“Why is the Seller moving?”
This is a personal question that’s best not asked by a buyer, it will more often then not result in an evasive answer or a lie.
Let the buyer’s agent position that query with the listing agent in a diplomatic way to glean information about the situation at hand.
‘What are the neighbors like?’
Talk about putting someone on the spot. Listing agents likely have no idea — they don’t live in the neighborhood 24/7, and it would they cannot discuss race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. When cornered, is the seller likely to divulge?
“There’s a Mrs. Kravitz across the street and a curmudgeon next door? And by the way, the teenager that lives on the other side of the house? His band starts warming up in the garage about 11 p.m. on Thursday nights.”Hardly. These people are trying to sell their house. It’s all wonderful. Buyers have to assess the neighbors on their own. Visit the neighborhood and different times of the day and on the weekends to get a sense of the neighborhood.
‘Will the seller take X price?’
Negotiations are best left to agents with a written document from which to work. No Agent or Seller will be inclined to negotiate in good faith without a written offer and Proof of Funds or a pre-qualification letter that demonstrates your ability to buy the property.
Although it’s OK to be candid with your own agent and those you trust, only do so when you are not within earshot of anyone in the seller’s camp. That includes those curbside chats as you are wrapping up the showing near your car.
Be engaged but conservative in the information you share and how you react to homes you see, even if you have a real interest. You can jump for joy when you are with your agent writing the perfect offer.