In most cases, home buyers and sellers do not meet face-to-face until their closing date. Real estate agents see a number of risks in introducing buyers and sellers, so they generally prefer to handle all of the communication until it’s time to close on the home. However, there are also some benefits of meeting the person who’s selling your future home or buying your current one. You might wonder why buyers and sellers rarely meet and whether it’s ever appropriate for the two parties to talk before closing.
Risks of Buyers and Sellers meeting
Whether you’re the buyer or seller of the home, meeting the other party involved in the transaction could lead to problems with the sale. Here are a few of the most common risks of home buyers and sellers meeting:
The buyer may struggle to envision themselves in the home.
When you stage your home to sell, your goal is to help prospective buyers envision their own lives inside the house. You might put a great deal of effort into deep-cleaning the home, removing personal items, and adding neutral decor. All of the efforts may go to waste, though, if the buyer gets to know you on a personal level.
After the buyer meets the seller, it becomes much harder to see the home as a neutral space. Now, the buyer knows who the seller is, and they picture the seller living in the home instead of imaginging themselves living in the home. While this may not ultimately be a dealbreaker for the buyer, it could make it harder for them to make a decision.
The buyer could learn something negative.
Selling a home requires careful and strategic marketing, and your real estate agent is an expert in this regard. If you’re selling your home, you might be aware of some of the downsides to the property or the surrounding area. When you meet with the buyer, you could accidentally let one of these negatives slip.
You and your real estate agent should never mislead prospective buyers about the property. However, your real estate agent can carefully market your home to appeal to buyers. If you tell the buyer something that gives them pause, they may walk away from the sale or lower their offer.
The seller could be offended by the buyer’s comments.
Selling a home can be an emotional experience. When you have years of memories in the house, parting ways can be challenging. Sellers often have a strong attachment to their home, and they don’t want to hear any criticisms of the property.
As a buyer, you don’t have any emotional attachment to the properties you view, so you can take on an unbiased perspective. Pointing out flaws in a house in front of the seller could create an issue, though. You might accidentally offend the seller by critiquing the home, which may lead to the seller rejecting your offer.
The seller could violate the Fair Housing Act.
One of the most serious concerns real estate agents have with buyers and sellers meeting involves the Fair Housing Act. This legislation prohibits housing discrimination based on race, religion, disability, and other protected classes.
Unfortunately, conscious and subconscious biases are still common today. When sellers meet a prospective buyer, there is always a chance that their final decision will be influenced by judgments of the buyer’s ethnicity, family status, religion, or other characteristics.
Benefits of Buyers and Sellers Meeting
Although real estate agents typically prefer buyers and sellers not to meet, the two parties sometimes benefit from speaking directly with one another. Here are two notable benefits of buyers and sellers meeting:
The buyer can ask the seller questions.
When you view a home, you want to learn as much as possible about the property and the neighborhood. The seller’s agent can be a great source of information about the home, but no one is as familiar with the property as the homeowner.
You can ask the seller about the neighbors, local amenities, traffic in the area, and other topics that the real estate agent may not be able to answer. Additionally, the seller may be able to offer advice on how to maintain the home, how to embrace the property’s quirks, or how to optimize the landscaping. All of this information can help you make your decision, and if you purchase the home, the advice can help you settle in more easily.
The buyer can show the seller that they’re a good fit for the home.
Sellers who feel emotionally attached to their home often want to select a buyer they believe will respect and honor the property. Moving is easier when you know that your old home is in good hands. When you’re in the process of selling your home, you may feel more comfortable and confident if you can meet your prospective buyers and get to know them.
As a buyer, this can also be a valuable opportunity for you to win over the seller. If you connect with the seller on a personal level and show them that you plan to take care of the property, they may be much more likely to choose your offer.
How to Meet Successfully
You, your real estate agent, and the other party can mutually decide whether or not to meet before closing on the sale. Some people think that the risks outweigh the benefits, and others believe that meeting the other party will make the transaction easier.
If you and the other party decide to meet, you should only do so when both agents are present. The real estate agents are responsible for facilitating the transaction, so they should be directly involved in any meeting between the buyer and seller. This will also mitigate many of the risks of meeting as agents know what topics are and aren’t appropriate for buyers and sellers to discuss.
You can also reduce the risks by strictly limiting the conversation to the home and the transaction. It may be tempting to ask personal questions to get to know the other party, but this could lead to biased decision-making.
Buyers and sellers rarely meet before the closing date because revealing the wrong information or making the wrong statement could put the sale in jeopardy. In some cases, though, a meeting between the buyer and seller can offer benefits. You and your real estate agent can weigh the pros and cons of meeting to decide what option is best for you.
Michael Carr is the Co-Founder & COO of BrandFace, LLC. He is also a real estate branding expert and international bestselling author. As America’s Top Selling Real Estate Auctioneer, he has sold billions of dollars in commercial and residential properties.