A few years ago, while selling our home in New Jersey, a real estate agent requested a showing for a couple and their tween daughter.
“Of course!” my husband and I thought. We didn’t even think: What could go wrong?
But we should have, because here’s what did:
Apparently, the tween found touring our house a drag. And so, while her parents ostensibly talked about the yard or our built-in bookshelves, she sneaked upstairs to my home office. She then proceeded to turn on my laptop, rename, and rearrange a half-dozen work files, and … try to log in to Netflix to watch a movie.
My husband and I are not what you would call emotional firecrackers. But this time, we saw red. Who wants a stranger—regardless of age—messing with their personal possessions? No one. Drama and massive apologies ensued (although from the broker, not the tween trespasser).
My husband and I decided that if this family dared to put in an offer, we would refuse it on principle.
Whether you, too, have an adorable moppet or a rebellious tween, you might have wondered how your kids—and the impression they make—might affect your chances at landing your dream home.
Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast answer here—you know your family best. (That said, keep them away from strangers’ computers.) But read on for what real estate pros think about your touring a house with your kids in tow.
Your kids could distract you from the mission at hand
Alex Hubler understands that every family’s schedule and resources are different.
“But my general rule of thumb is, no kids on first showings,” says Hubler, an agent with Keller Williams Premier Realty Lake Minnetonka, in the Greater Twin Cities area. “All decision-makers need to come with their undivided attention.”
Most of the time kids are involved, Hubler says, “one of the parents is in charge of keeping them on good behavior and wrangling them, if need be. That takes their focus away from evaluating the home objectively.”
What parents should know: If you do bring your children to the first showing—and you think you kind of like the house—ask the agent to show you the place again … alone.
Your kids shouldn’t get the final say
Julie Gans, an agent with Triplemint Real Estate, in New York City, remembers what happened when she showed an apartment to a single mom.
“Her son was 14 years old, and he was the decision-maker in the family,” Gans says. “It was a $5 million apartment—and she was letting her son make the decision if he was ‘comfortable’ in it.”
What parents should know: Of course, you want your kids to feel at ease in the home you ultimately choose, but that shouldn’t mean they get final say. After all, who will be paying the mortgage? As much as you can, keep them out of the process. Bring them through on a second showing. Or heck, hold out until the home inspection.
If you must bring the kids, bring help, too
Gans has hosted many open houses where well-behaved children pop in with their parents, politely sit, and read a book or quietly play on an iPad.
“But I have had many open houses with poorly behaved children,” she admits. “The parents view the apartment, and I end up being the baby sitter.”
That can be a high-stress situation when there are, say, windows that aren’t childproof or priceless antiques that most definitely aren’t playthings.
What parents should know: If you can, bring a sitter, family member, or friend to watch your kiddos.
Why does it matter, especially if the seller isn’t around? Well, if they misbehave and the listing agent is there, you’d better beware.
“It is really up to the discretion of the broker to relay the information to the seller,” Gans says.
And if a bidding war ensues, that info could weigh against you in the seller’s decision.
Well-behaved kids could get a pass
By now it probably sounds like the jury has ruled against bringing kids along for a showing. But it isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes, it can even help facilitate a sale.
“There’s nothing I like better at an open house than having a family with well-behaved kids,” says Aaron Bowman, a real estate professional with Mazz Real Estate, in Tolland, CT. “That way, I can connect with the whole family.”
Bowman enjoys going into detail about what his own kids like about the home he’s showing. And sometimes, he even brings his own older kids with him to open houses. (And yes, they are well-behaved.)
What parents need to know: If you have a child you trust to respect the house you’re touring, go for it.
“Having kids at open houses only becomes an issue when it takes away from other potential clients’ viewing,” Bowman says.
“Whether or not a customer has brought their children to an open house has no bearing on whether or not their offer is accepted,” says Eric D. Rosen, a licensed associate real estate broker with Halstead Property, in New York City.
Instead, he assures, it all comes down to the numbers: Which client presents the best offer to the seller, the amount of the offer, cash or financing, closing date, and more.
What parents need to know: Even if you have the next Honey Boo Boo in tow, “this is a business transaction in the end,” Rosen says.
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