As with any other event in life that involves interaction between people, home buying and selling real estate requires you to follow certain etiquette rules that ensure a pleasant experience for all involved.  No need to keep your pinkies up, but having manners indicates that you have respect and consideration for others in this very personal business.

Here’s your accelerated course at real estate finishing school including what every person must know before their first real estate deal.

For Buyers

Respect time

Agents and sellers put in a great deal of effort and coordination into preparing a house for showing. So be respectful of the schedule your real estate agent has drawn up and stick to it. If you are going to be late, inform your agent in advance so that others are not inconvenienced by the delay. Remember that they have a life to live too. Your agent may have other clients lined up for a showing. Your seller may have postponed her outside commitments to prepare the house for you. Respect time – yours and others’.

While requesting appointments, don’t ask for a showing on Friday night at 9 pm or 8 am on a weekday morning. Also, be realistic about how many houses you can see a day. As much as you would like to see all houses on the same day, you won’t be able to squeeze in more than 9 or 10 on an average day.

Showing up at the doorstep unannounced and unescorted by your agent is a strict no-no, though it may be okay if it is an open house. If you are there only for window shopping and are not planning to buy a house in the near future, stick to open houses and don’t waste your time and that of your realtor.

Also, be honest with the agent about what your financial situation and what you can afford. If possible, get a pre-approval from a noted lender. A pre-approval always gets you an edge over other buyers in case of matching bids. You can also avoid viewing houses you are not going to buy anyway and save time.

Be polite

It is always easy to point out faults and defects when it is someone else’s house. If you didn’t like the house or the landscaping and can’t stomach the color they used on the living room walls, keep it to yourself during the viewing. You can always discuss your preferences with your spouse or the realtor once you’re in the privacy of your own car.

On the other hand, even if you are lucky enough to come across your dream home during your house hunt, keep your poker face on and stop yourself from gushing about how wonderful everything is. You don’t want to damage your bargaining position. That’s not being polite, that’s just being market savvy!

Keep your home viewing party small

A home viewing isn’t a party – so don’t drag along your entire entourage of friends, relatives and children for a viewing. Once you narrow your options to a couple of houses and are planning to make an offer, you can take your parents, well-wishers or architect friends along for a second opinion.

Respect personal spaces

Remember that the house you are walking into is someone else’s home. If you wish to take photos or video, ask first. Even if you are under contract, you cannot stalk the house or show up at the doorstep one fine day without prior intimation. Always make sure that you direct your inquiries or requests through your agent instead of contacting the seller or the listing agent directly.

For Sellers

Prepare the house

This one is an absolute must. As a seller, you need to stage or prepare your house for a showing so that it looks warm, inviting and comfortable to a potential buyer.  That means cleaning the house, getting rid of clutter, removing distracting personal belongings such as photos or mementos (the house should be the focus, not you), foul smells and so on. If you are still living there, keep pets and children out of the way when you have a scheduled showing.

Staging your home will help your agent sell the best features of your home to a buyer and arrive at a deal much faster. Still not convinced? Staging a home can also help you sell your home for a much higher price.

Stay away during the showing

Many sellers opt to stay at home during the showing thinking that no one would be able to “sell” their home better than them. But in reality, buyers hate viewing a house when the owner is present, following them around as they inspect each room. As long as you are underfoot, the buyers will also be unable to envision themselves living there.  This in turn can sabotage the agent’s chances of pushing for a successful sale.

Be honest with your agent

You have hired a real estate agent to sell your house because you need his specialized help. If the seller or the buyer’s agent tries to contact you directly instead of through your agent, inform your agent immediately.  Also, be honest with him or her about the house’s drawbacks as well as its special features so that he or she can sell your house in the best possible way.

Sometimes, a home inspection may throw up some startling facts about your house that you never knew and were unprepared for. Be mature enough to handle such events without throwing a tantrum or blaming the inspector.

This guest post is written by Kurt Jacobson. Kurt is a snowboarding enthusiast with a background in real estate. Having moved 11 times in the past nine years, he thrives on helping others learn from his experiences. When he’s not out shredding the mountain, he writes about all things home related for the website HouseHunter.co.