Eight Things You Should Never Say When Buying a House Unless you are in a Seller’s Market

John McConnin, Esq
Published on January 27, 2016

Eight Things You Should Never Say When Buying a House Unless you are in a Seller’s Market

Seeing something that you love (or hate) can cause you to blurt out all kinds of things, some of which you may regret. Because while you can (and should) at all times be upfront with your real estate agent, you might not want to be quite so forthright around the sellers (or the listing agents working for them).

So before you decide to step into a house and stick your foot in your mouth, heed these top things never to say to sellers or their real estate agents when you are shopping for a new home.  (Unless you are in a Sellers’ Market).


  1. “This is my dream house!”  (Unless you are in a Sellers’ market)

Have you ever played poker? Well then you should know that if you would like to maintain a strong negotiating position, you should never tip your hand… Interested parties who express their unchecked passion for a house are shooting themselves.

These are the types of things which can help sellers obtain more cash from the buyers. This is due to the fact that they really know how much this home really means to them. Any negotiating strategies and all discussions about the home are best left in private. Saying a few nice things about the home is not bad—just do not gush. Gushing=bad.

However in San Diego, in our sellers market I need to emphasize that even this basic advice is the general rule.  However, as always there are exceptions.  If you are looking at an exceptional property and you know you may be in a bidding war that you wish to win, it may help to tell the owners this is the home that will make your family really happy.  When sellers are reviewing multiple offers… the buyer who really loves the home may be the one who eventually gets it.  I would love to tell you the strongest offer from the strongest buyer always wins.  But, not every seller tries to sell for the very top dollar.  Once a certain financial threshold are crossed some sellers want to feel good about the sale. So sometimes it makes sense to help them fell great.

  1. “That couch is hideous”  

Do not tell the sellers—or any real estate agent present—that they’ve poor taste in furniture or décor. Their style may not suit yours, but that is no reason to insult them. If they hear you bad-mouthing their curtains or rug, then they may just select another buyer.

  1. “I can afford to spend X”   (Unless you are in a Sellers’ market)

In spite of the fact that it is definitely a good idea for the prospective buyers to discover just how much they can afford, buyers should keep the information strictly between them and the Realtor.

Prospective home buyers should not address with the seller or the seller’s agent anything concerning their ability to pay a full price offer or financing. This hinders the ability to negotiate the best price for the house. If you are asked, you should say that finding a home that is fairly priced is what matters to you more than the amount you can afford.  Again, this is the wrong advice in a Seller’s market.  In a Seller’s market you may wish to show that you are very strong buyer and that once you are under contract the seller can feel secure in going forward with their plans.  Many sellers are also going to be buyers.  They are feeling the same low inventory stresses you feel.  Their biggest concern may be closing on their next home in a timely manner.

  1. “I cannot wait to get rid of that”

Even if you are thinking that the home will be perfect once you get your hands on it, do not let on. If the new buyers are planning to remodel a house in which somebody raised their family and has many memories, the buyer should not say that wall color is terrible—cannot wait to repaint this place or I cannot wait to tear that swing set down. The seller can simply reject their offer or come back asking for more cash upon hearing that somebody wants to completely remake the home where they made lifetime memories.

  1. “Why are you selling?”  (Unless you have your agent inquire for you) 

Yes, you might want to find out why the sellers have decided to sell their house. But, in many cases it might be better to keep it to yourself! Many sellers consider it poor taste to ask, and it might just open a can of worms. You should never ask the sellers why they’re selling the property, there might be personal reasons such as job relocation or divorce or something worse- none of it is your business. Creating a possibly uncomfortable state of affairs will not help you down the road, in case a bidding war emerges.  If you really wish to know, consider having your agent inquire.

  1. “What’s it really like to live here?” (Unless you have your agent inquire for you) 

Sure, you may want to get the inside scoop, however that does not mean that you should interrogate anyone. Do not ask the neighbors personal questions. You can talk to the neighbors and give them a chance to open up, but do not push if they are not talkative. If you end up moving into the neighborhood, do you want the first impression they have of to be that of a spy or a pest?

  1. “You will never get that price!”

Although you may be thinking that you would not give them an X amount for the home, as a buyer it is best for you to keep your opinions and thoughts to yourself. Even if the buyer thinks that the house is highly priced, it might be within range of similar houses in the neighborhood. This leads us to our next point….

  1. “I will give you [a very lowball offer] for this home (we can negotiate from there)?”  (Typically, don’t do this in a Sellers’ Market) 

If your are in a seller’s market or you have found your dream home, I suggest your avoid starting with low ball offers.  You should consider your real estate agent’s advice (if they have experience) when it comes to the pricing.  In most circumstances in San Diego over the last few years we have found its far better to be perceived as a strong, serious buyer.  I know most buyers from outside of San Diego, think low balling is the way to go.  But, having represented many sellers in the seller’s markets we have been experiencing these last 4 years or so, you would be surprised how many of sellers, take low ball offers personally or in a negative light; cratering the negotiations before they begin.  In short, if you wish to spray out lots of offers in hopes of getting a great deal… low balling may work.  But, if you target a desirable property in an a seller’s market, low balling is unlikely to be the strategy that gets you the home at a reasonable price.

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Eight Things You Should Never Say When Buying a House Unless you are in a Seller’s Market
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