Is It OK To Use The Bathroom?

From The Blog

29 July 2020

And other questions you’re wondering about touring properties but are afraid to ask!

Unless they live locally and are making a move to a new home within the same general area, it is not unusual for people buying property in Grey County to have driven for over an hour before they arrive at the first property they’re going to view.  In that amount of time, they can pass at least 3 Timmy’s, so it’s also not unusual for these potential buyers to need to “use the facilities” when they enter a home that they’re considering buying.

Is that ok?  Or is it a no-no?

Navigating this kind of dos and don’ts can be embarrassing and uncomfortable, so why not gather some info before you leave the comforts of your own home?

So…Can I Use The Bathroom?

When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go — most sellers won’t mind if the occasional buyer uses their washroom but don’t just wander off quietly and help yourself.  That strategy might not work in every house…literally.  Some of the cottages, chalets and rural properties in our area are only used seasonally and may even have been vacant for months or years.  If that is the case, particularly during the winter months, the water may have been shut off, meaning there’s no way you can flush.  The best way to avoid this horrendous situation is to ask your realtor for permission before using the facilities.  This is even more important in the days of Covid when some property owners may want to place restrictions on how much access they give to strangers entering their homes.

If you’re visiting an Open House, occupying in the bathroom for more than a minute or two means other potential buyers can’t check out the facilities — and may not want to after you’re done.  Best advice?  Schedule a pit stop or two  along your drive.

Speaking of Timmy’s, Can I Bring In My Coffee?

I love my morning coffee as much as the next guy and I completely understand that there are few things that go as well with the driving involved in a house hunting tour than a fresh cup of joe, but you are entering someone else’s home and they are trying hard to make a great impression on potential buyers – if you’re carrying a drink, be very careful.  And if you spill even a drop, be prepared to clean it up completely.

Food, on the other hand, is pretty much a no-no.  Sometimes you’ll be lucky enough to be treated to fresh cookies left out by a seller but even then, exercise caution, grab a napkin and eat it in the kitchen, NOT while you’re wandering around (and potentially dropping crumbs) on their spotless hardwood floors or white carpet.

The same goes for smoking.  It is best to assume that the houses you’ll be visiting are owned by non-smokers.  Even if you can smell evidence of smoking, don’t take that as an invitation to light up.  You can’t smoke in restaurants and you shouldn’t smoke (or vape, or anything else) in someone else’s home unless they’re present and agree that it is ok.  Yes, even in the garage or shop.  Save the smokes until you’re back in your car.

Can I Make Myself Comfortable On That Cozy Looking Couch Or That Fluffy Bed?

Ummm…no.  Again, you need to remember that this is not your home and even if you buy it, you’re probably not going to be buying that couch or that bed.  Plus the sellers have likely worked hard to get everything looking just right and won’t appreciate it if you mess it up even a little bit.  And there’s always the possibility that that bed is actually just an air mattress or a stack of boxes used as staging to make the home look more inviting and enticing, and it may not stand up to the weight of an adult or rambunctious child.  If you need to sit, be as inconspicuous as possible.  Pretend the seller is present and be on your best behaviour.

Can I Take A Selfie In The Living Room To Show My Friends This Awesome House I Want To Buy?

I understand the impulse, especially among younger buyers who are more likely to document every exciting element of their lives, but this is an area where we have to be really careful – especially if you’re planning on posting that selfie online.  Buyers have to remember – they’re in someone else’s home and the items in it are someone else’s belongings.  If you share or post your selfie, you could inadvertently end up sharing private details that the seller would rather keep private.  You should always ask permission first.

I know of a situation wherein someone posted photos of a child’s bedroom, taken during a property showing.  Somehow those photos were seen online and recognized by classmates of the property owner’s child, who shared the images and the whole thing took on a life of its own, resulting in legal action.    Best to avoid this situation completely and act as if the shoe was on the other foot.  If you love the decor, the house or a specific aspect of it and feel the need to document it with a photo, make sure you have permission first.

Is It OK To Look Inside The Closet or Cupboard?

It is absolutely ok to peek in closets and cupbards.  I tell my sellers to expect it and to consider moving off-season clothing into a storage area or other location so closets look spacious and well-kept.  Buying a home is the biggest purchase most of us make in our lives, and you need to check out every aspect of a house before you can be sure it is the right one for you.  So go ahead and take a look, but remember: you’re shopping for closet space, not a new wardrobe.

While this stuff seems awkward and uncomfortable, its actually pretty easy to navigate if you just remember The Golden Rule: Do unto the homes of others as you’d have them do to yours.


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