For Homebuyers: 5 Dos and Don’ts on Property Tours

This content was originally published on August 27, 2018 and updated on July 10, 2023.

Property tours are fun! You can imagine yourself living in new spaces and, perhaps, get a better understanding of what you want and need in a home.

It’s also relatively easy to make mistakes while touring properties—mistakes that could anger the seller, hurt your negotiating position, or worse. For the best results, follow these tips:

1. Don’t bring an entourage.

Relatives and friends may enjoy tagging along or providing personal advice, but they’re also distracting, shifting the focus away from YOUR interests and concerns. Plus, the things they say and do could hurt your ability to negotiate as successfully with the sellers.

If it’s essential to include other decision-makers, discuss this with your buyer’s rep before you schedule a home tour.

2. Do assume the owner is watching and listening.

Surveillance cameras are increasingly common and may be used to monitor buyers’ behavior and comments on property tours. 

Admittedly, it’s unethical and potentially illegal for sellers to spy on buyers, but that might not stop owners from safeguarding their property or gauging a buyer’s interest for negotiating purposes. 

Additionally, your comments and movements outside the home may be scrutinized with or without cameras. Owners have been known to watch from neighbors’ windows or recruit neighbors to spy on their behalf.

3. Don’t take photos or videos or use live-streaming services.

Admittedly, it’s become common to use cameras wherever we go, and capturing shots of what might be your next home is especially tempting. 

When touring houses, however, remember that you’re on someone else’s property. Unless the owner has granted permission, you may be violating state laws.

Even if you can take pictures, don’t share them on social media. It’s another way to hurt your negotiating position and invade the owner’s privacy. Please wait until it’s YOUR house.

4. Do use your imagination.

Every homeowner has different tastes. If a house doesn’t reflect your style, what easy and potentially inexpensive changes can you make, including light fixtures, window treatments, and paint?

Several paint companies offer augmented reality (AR) apps to view walls in other colors via your phone. Similarly, some retailers provide AR apps for viewing virtual furniture in a room. Use these tools to help envision your style in a home.

5. Don’t help yourself to the bathroom.

It’s fine to flush the toilets and test the water faucets. It’s also okay to open cabinets, drawers, and closet doors. But check with your buyer’s rep before “using” a toilet since many owners prefer that you don’t do this. Better yet, schedule a pit stop before starting the tour.