A day of open houses can bring out so many emotions. That’s because your emotions often run the gamut from “This is it! My dream home!” to “Really? They’re going with that ghastly carpet?” But making an offer on a home is more of an art than a science, and savvy real estate agents know that what you say at an open house can be an unexpected deal breaker. Here are some common things you might feel like saying and why you should keep them to yourself (especially if you’re walking the house with the seller).
“I would do anything to have this house.”
Yes, you might have finally found “the one” after a long drawn-out search. But save the cartwheels, advises Andres Piedra with Veterans Realty Group in Dulles, Va. That’s because the more you enthuse about a house, the more you’re giving up negotiation leverage when the buyer knows that you’re motivated to buy.
Or, as Amy McDonald, a licensed associate real estate broker at New York-based Triplemint, said to a gushing client, “I hope you love it full-price much.”
“We can replace those rose bushes with a dog run, and the nursery will be a perfect craft room.”
Always refrain from mentioning any changes you’d make to the house, recommends Daniele Kurzweil, a licensed real estate salesperson with the Friedman Team at Compass in New York. “For many this is an emotional sale. They raised their family here, they built the cabinets in the kitchen by hand and they had their first Christmas as a family in this home. A buyer coming in and saying that they would rip everything out might upset the sellers because they see it as a personal assault on their history.”
“This price is ridiculous, and 1982 called and wants its bathroom back.”
Piedra says that some potential buyers feel the open house is an opportunity to set the groundwork for placing an offer, like a psychological operation campaign. “They’ll disparage items in the house, make comments about what they’ll have to pay to have something replaced or renovated and badmouth the price in an effort to grease the skids for submitting a low-ball offer.”
Be aware that your comments won’t make your terrible offer acceptable. Kurzweil finds that the most vocal critics are those who finally stop their commentary and inform her that even with the significant flaws they’re willing to purchase the property for a huge discount. But insulting the house will rarely help your cause. She says to remember that the broker can choose to work with anyone. You don’t want your offer mysteriously being sent to the bottom.
“I can’t wait to raise chickens in this huge backyard.”
Avoid talking about atypical uses for the listing, advises Emile L’Eplattenier, Chief Real Estate Analyst with TheClose.com. “Mentioning parties you plan to have or how perfect the garage will be for band practice might give a seller who is friends with the neighbor second thoughts about your offer.”
“School’s starting soon and we’re running out of time.”
Don’t make any remarks regarding your moving timeline, recommends Cedric Stewart, a residential and commercial sales consultant and team leader of Entourage RG at Keller Williams in the Washington, D.C. area. “This type of sensitive information could make you vulnerable in the midst of negotiations for repairs and cause the seller to call your bluff if you threaten to walk away.”
“I hope the neighbors don’t have kids.”
Avoid speculating on anything about the neighbors such as their family situation, race, culture or anything else. And don’t ask about the sellers, either.
“Brokers are not legally allowed to speak about location demographics, so do your own research and spend time in the neighborhood,” advises Alexandra Van Buren, a licensed real estate salesperson with Triplemint in New York.
“This is well within our budget!”
Yes, hopefully you have your mortgage funding lined up and have saved a sufficient amount for your down payment. But there’s no reason to share additional details of your finances, saysStewart, adding that this is especially important for first-time home buyers or anyone purchasing a home using some type of grant or special financing program. “Buyers should refrain from discussing any aspect of their finances – how much money they have saved, how much they plan to put down, what they’ll spend on furniture, etc. – because the agent and/or seller might catch wind and it’ll come back to bite you if you ask for closing help or try to negotiate a lower purchase price.”
Finally, adds Piedra, even if you think you’re out of earshot of everyone, just don’t say anything even potentially damaging. “With the advent of doorbell cameras, nanny cameras, Alexa, etc., what one thinks is a private innocuous comment could be picked up and leveraged against them later,” he says. “Do not inadvertently lay out all your cards in the home before you even write your offer.”