Never Discuss These Things When Showing a Home

How Sellers Can Sabotage Their Own Sale

Realtor giving man keys to new house
••• Paul Bradbury / Getty Images

Generally, a seller's agent shows a home to prospective buyers. There's a reason for this. Sellers can say the wrong thing, putting the home sale in jeopardy.

Learn more about potential mistakes sellers can make when showing a home.

Key Takeaways

  • Sellers might be present during home showings if they are still living in the property or have uncooperative tenants.
  • Sellers should never discuss things like price, why they are selling, problems with the home, other offers, or closing with buyers.
  • Anything said to a buyer's agent should be considered said to the buyer and may be used during negotiations.
  • Sellers should let their agent be the one to communicate with all prospective buyers and their agents.

Why Would a Seller Show a Home?

Why would a seller be showing a home, especially when that seller is represented by a real estate agent? This can happen for several fairly common reasons. In many parts of the country, agents routinely call sellers to make an appointment to show a home.

For example, the seller might be living in the home and is there when the buyer and the buyer's agent show up to see the home. Of course, everybody knows the seller should immediately leave the home when a buyer appears on the doorstep with an agent in tow, but even comments from the seller on the way out can cause problems. A seller doesn't have to be present for the entire home tour to say the wrong thing.

There are also times when a tenant might be uncooperative, which could require that the seller be present during showings. Tenants might not respond to a listing agent or a buyer's agent's requests for showings and prefer to open the door only for the owner. A seller might not allow an agent to secure a lockbox to the home and insist on showing themselves.

Sometimes, sellers like to be involved in every step of the home showing process, and it's a bad idea from all sides of the fence.

Things a Home Seller Should Never Discuss

The Code of Ethics put out by the National Association of Realtors, to which all REALTORS® agree to abide, says that a buyer's agent is not to interfere in an agent's listing. The Code also says an agent is supposed to treat all parties fairly, but the Code of Ethics doesn't stop a buyer's agent from pulling personal information out of a seller when the seller is willing to provide it.

All too often, sellers answer questions put to them by other agents because they don't think they are doing anything wrong. They don't see it as a mistake to provide information. But what they say to an agent or a potential buyer can have big implications.

Here are some things a seller should never talk about with a buyer, regardless of how innocent the topic might seem:

  • The present sales price
  • The length of time the home has been for sale
  • Why the seller has decided to sell
  • The comparable sales prices of other homes
  • Any price reduction considerations
  • Things that might be wrong with the home
  • How many offers the seller has received
  • How quickly the seller would like to close

Anything a seller says can and will be used against them when the buyer enters negotiations to buy that home. For example, if a seller mentions that they hope the home sells soon because they're under contract to buy another home, the buyer might not offer as much as the buyer might offer without this information.

Buyer's agents may press to get information. Don't feel obligated to reply. The best response a seller can have to these questions is not to answer the question at all or say, "You will have to ask my agent that question."

The Role of Your Agent

One of the reasons a seller hires a real estate agent to sell a home is so the agent can deal with buyers. As a seller, your role is to get the home ready to show and let your agent handle the rest. Give your agent any feedback you have, of course, and don't hesitate to ask questions.

Remember, a listing agent is a buffer between the seller and the buyer, including the buyer's agent. Let your agent earn their commission and protect your investment.