8 ways homebuyers annoy sellers

Selling a home is stressful. And poorly behaved buyers add to the strain.

Selling a home is stressful. And poorly behaved buyers add to the strain.

A little give-and-take is normal, but some buyers push the envelope, as well as the sellers' buttons. Here are eight ways that homebuyers annoy sellers.

DON'T: Skip appointments.

For sellers, "the No. 1 complaint is not showing up after you've set an appointment," said Mark Ramsey, broker with The Ramsey Group at Keller Williams Realty in Charlotte, N.C.

To prepare for a showing, a smart seller spends time clearing up clutter and making the home shine, then grabs the kids and/or pets and vacates for a few hours so buyers can tour in peace.

Imagine how a seller feels when you announce at the last minute that you'll visit next week instead. Or you simply don't show up, without an explanation.

Bottom line: Unless you've had a truly last-minute emergency, cancel hours before the appointment, Ramsey said.

DON'T: Ignore 'house rules.'

Just because it's a home doesn't mean it's your home.

Some prospective buyers treat a home like they've been living there for decades – unlocking doors, cranking up the heat or air conditioning, and letting their kids run wild, bounce on the furniture, and borrow toys.

Some looky-loos use the toilet – which gets problematic if the house isn't occupied and the water has been turned off, Ramsey said.

Sellers are allowed to set some ground rules ("no shoes" is a popular one), which are included in the showing instructions, Ramsey said. And if sellers aren't home, it's up to agents to enforce those rules, he says.

"I tell buyers, 'Let's just pretend we're walking into the White House,' " Ramsey said.

DON'T: Nitpick.

Want to alienate the sellers who currently own your next house, not to mention your real estate agent?

Start complaining about small issues, like carpet and paint colors, said Matt Laricy, managing partner with Americorp Real Estate in Chicago.

The walls are yellow or the carpet is brown, "so they say they won't buy the place," Laricy said. "Do you know how cheap it is to repaint a property?"

In many cases, such an objection is not a price-reduction strategy, he said. "If it was their strategy, I would say it's a bad one, though," Laricy said. Paint and carpets are easy fixes, he said. Instead, focus on the big-picture items, like location and light level, he added.

DON'T: Present a laundry list of defects.

One weapon in the buyers' negotiating arsenal is to write a long list of what's wrong with the house.

Big mistake, said Ron Phipps, principal with Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I., and past president of the National Association of Realtors

"Sellers don't care why you're discounting the house," he said. They're looking at that bottom-line number. Include a roll call of defects and the question becomes, "Why do you want this place?"

Instead, he recommends a kinder, gentler approach for buyers: Submit a list of comparables, your offer and a personal letter introducing yourself and why you want the house.

DON'T: Request multiple 'visits' before closing.

This happens "again and again," said Mike Lubin, associate broker for Brown Harris Stevens in New York. "A buyer wants a lot of access after they've committed to purchase. They want to bring in decorators, architects, family or even visit it themselves."

Meanwhile, the seller is getting repairs done, accommodating inspectors, packing and moving, Ramsey said. Because the seller has a tight deadline, the onus is on the buyer not to add to the load by requesting additional showings, he said.

A possible compromise: Arrange to visit while the inspector is there, Ramsey said. Another opportunity to visit is during the final walkthrough before closing, he said.

DON'T: Try to renegotiate after striking a deal.

Another thing that drives sellers nuts? Buyers who agree on a price, only to repeatedly demand concessions and discounts.

Barring unwelcome surprises or revelations that a seller concealed something, the negotiated price should be the final price, Laricy said.

Buyers will say the market has changed, say "they overpaid because they just got caught up in the moment," or suffer buyer's remorse, he said.

"It's extremely awkward," Lubin said. "It's violating the terms of the contract, and it's insulting."

DON'T: Generate 'iffy' commitment letters.

Buyer and seller reach an agreement. Then a letter from the buyer's bank informs the seller that financing is conditional on a list of things that the borrower must do. Depending on the length of the list, "the seller doesn't know if they have a commitment, if they can go ahead and move or not," Phipps said.

The bank's list may offer some clues. If the buyer is being asked to clarify where the down payment comes from, account for a string of late payments, or explain a drop in credit score, that could signal serious problems, Phipps said.

On the other hand, if the bank wants proof of the agent's escrow deposit, the insurance binder or the reason for one late payment on a student loan, that doesn't sound as dire, he said.

DON'T: Rush the closing date.

Even in the best of circumstances, it's hard to leave a home for good. It's more difficult when buyers try to commandeer the closing (and moving) date.

"It's annoying to the seller for the buyer to want to close before the seller is ready to move out," Lubin said.

Instead, Lubin said, the date should be comfortable for all parties. "Each side has to coordinate a schedule and still be respectful to the other side."



Dana Dratch writes about mortgages and real estate for Bankrate.com. Visit Bankrate online at http://www.bankrate.com.


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