• Employ a basic principle of respect. Do not touch what does not belong to you.
  • Save the confidential discussions about the home for the car ride or the office.
  • A seller’s property is not a glorified hotel.


Villa Pino Alto


Turn off the lights when leaving. Watch for the cat. Please reset the alarm. These are all typical instructions a real estate agent might see when they are showing homes to buyers. Often, agents share stories of how their seller’s showing instructions were overlooked by buyers and their agent. Most of the time, the oversight results in nothing more than an annoyance for a seller. On occasion, not following instructions can have major consequences. Below is a list of five forbidden mistakes real estate agents and their clients should not make in a seller’s home.

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1. Touching things that don’t belong to you 

Gwen Daubenmyer was angry as she took to her blog this summer when her client’s antique chair was used as a step stool during a showing.

“I can’t imagine what spawned the thought in your head that it was acceptable to remove a display of homemade quilts and drag a precious antique chair belonging to my client, over to a closet and stand on it to hoist yourself into their attic,” said Michigan broker Daubenmyer.

This is a basic principle of respect. Do not touch what does not belong to you. Buyers and agents need to be mindful that someone else owns and is paying the mortgage on the property they are viewing or are under contract with. Until the seller turns over the keys, the property belongs to someone else.

Cuesta Hermosa Mansion entrance

2. Disregarding a seller’s showing instructions

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” — the golden rule, plain and simple.

A seller’s property is not a glorified hotel. I have had countless discussions with fellow agents who talked about buyers or their agents tracking mud on new carpeting and lights being left on (when the instructions were to turn them off). Even worse, once someone used the restroom in a seller’s home when asked not to.

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3. Forgetting about little “Johnny” or “Jane”

Several years ago, I partnered with a good friend and agent to show a property to a potential buyer. Upon meeting the buyer at the property, the buyer’s child ran screaming and unsupervised around the property. The child then picked up a large stick and launched an assault on my coworker — all while the potential buyer looked on, unfazed by the child’s behaviour. By no means are all children ill-behaved or disrespectful. Out of curiosity, children want to explore and pick things up. When buyers are viewing homes, they need to be cautious of their children’s behavior in someone else’s home.

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4. Not locking up when leaving

In early 2015, I listed a home in a popular Albuquerque neighbourhood. One morning, I received a call from the police department. An intruder had turned my client’s home into his retreat, and a half-day standoff with the authorities followed. After several gas bombs and the presence of a police tank, the intruder gave up. My seller was lucky there was minimal damage to the property. It is hard to say if the situation could have been avoided or not. I know it would have been harder for the intruder gain access to my listing if the agent who had shown the property the evening before had locked the door when leaving.

Sanctuary Villa

5. Thinking you’re alone

Don’t forget big brother might be watching. With technology today, anything can be captured with a simple camera. We can watch our pets while we work or even watch who is ringing our front doorbell. When buyers and their agents are viewing properties, save the confidential discussions about the home for the car ride or the office. It is safe to assume that big brother (the seller) is watching everything. Agents are ultimately responsible for their clients when viewing a seller’s home. Agents need to set clear boundaries with buyers and counsel them on what is expected when viewing individual properties. Simple respect goes a long way for all parties involved.

Kellie Tinnin is the Career Development Director for ERA Sellers & Buyers Real Estate in Albuquerque, New Mexico. @KellieTinnin.