- Remove your shoes! Try to wear shoes that are easy to remove. 90% of the homes/condos you visit, you will be required to remove your shoes. This is not because they have new carpet. It is a sign of respect to the host/hostess. Yes, even if they are selling their house, they are hosts! This originally comes from the Japanese but is very much a custom throughout Hawaii. I loved this blog post by Bruce Fisher on the topic! The only exceptions here are when the property is bank-owned or when an agent tells you it is OK to leave your shoes on.
- Don’t assume properties are on Lockbox. While we see more properties on lockbox all the time, in 2013, this is NOT the norm. Be prepared to meet another agent when touring properties. Recognize that your agent has done their best to schedule viewings and there is a time schedule if you are seeing multiple properties. The listing agent has done their best to notify tenant(s) and coordinate the showing but things don’t always go as planned. The listing agent is not there to give you all their flyers; they are there to make sure the property shows well, let you in and answer questions. If they do have flyers out or it is an open house, be sure to ask if it is OK to take a flyer.
- Clarify where you are meeting the agent. If you are meeting your agent or the listing agent at the property it may seem obvious that you would knock on the front door (see #4). In condos, do you meet at the unit or at the main entrance or registration desk. Often times it is best to meet the agent nearby and have them take you to the property.
- Find the Front Door. This is a tough questions at many properties. Remember that many properties have “reverse living” where the main living area is upstairs. Often times in these units, the main entrance requires you to go up a whole flight of stairs. A general rule of thumb is that if the stairway entrance faces the front of the property, then that is main entrance. Sometimes you’ll see a stairway in the back but don’t take that; it may be a separate entrance to an ‘ohana. If you really don’t know, see rule number 5.
- Announce your arrival. This rule isn’t so important if it is clear which door is the main entrance as it is now generally acceptable to knock on a front door. In old Hawaiian custom, you do not step on the property without permission. What to do? You call out and ask if anyone is home. Don’t laugh! Honor the culture. Of course, your agent will guide/execute these rules with you but if you arrive early and your agent isn’t there it is really important to follow.
- Drive-by OK; Peek-around NO. Remember it is considered very disrespectful to enter a property without permission. You can enter a condo complex and look around. You can do a drive-by and get a good feeling of the neighborhood. It is OK to get out of your car parked on the street and take photos. But unless you have permission, do not park your car in the driveway or step on the property without permission. I’ve heard of neighbors calling the police, people having a gun pointed at them and having people attacked by dogs. Your agent may give you permission in advance to peek around if it is bank-owned property or if they know it is vacant.
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