Is it cool to pee in prospective houses?
April 12, 2007 11:36 PM   Subscribe

Real estate pee etiquettefilter: Is it kosher to use the bathroom in a house that you're viewing for purposes of buying? Does it make a difference if the house is vacant or still occupied?

My wife and I are looking at real estate. We've had a few marathon days where we see 6 or 7 houses in quick succession, with no real breaks in between. My wife occasionally needs to use the facilities, but is shy about using the bathroom in these houses, since she doesn't really own it and isn't really a guest. I don't really see the big deal, especially where the house is vacant, but I do understand where she's coming from.

Any definitive answers out there? Would you be cool with prospective buyers of your house using your toilet?
posted by saladpants to Human Relations (26 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
is it kosher? absolutely! that's what those facilities were designed for. the real estate agent just wants you to make an offer; tell me, are you more likely to make an offer while relaxed and not feeling any physical needs, or when you're struggling to hold back a yellow torrent?
posted by bruce at 11:43 PM on April 12, 2007

It's an inpection.
You have to make sure everything works.
posted by pompomtom at 11:45 PM on April 12, 2007

You gotta go, then you gotta go.... ultimately the seller should be expecting this. When I was selling my house, I removed/hid anything expensive and made sure to scrub my toilet when I knew someone had for a viewing.

Yeah, I'm not so proud, but I console myself with profits.
posted by Cog at 12:01 AM on April 13, 2007

You have to make sure everything works.

Exactly. Most home-buyers' guides advise that you at least flush all the toilets in the home, so what better excuse for flushing one that actually using one.
posted by amyms at 12:05 AM on April 13, 2007

than* actually using one.
posted by amyms at 12:06 AM on April 13, 2007

My instinct was, "Sure, use the bathroom."

Then I googled to see if there was any etiquette guide available, and read this:
In one home recently a man disappeared into a bathroom, newspaper in hand, and didn't emerge for a good ten minutes. As my friend pointed out, this made it difficult for the crowds to view the bathroom and in fact reluctant to do so once he reappeared - for reasons that hopefully do not need to be spelled out here.
Ten minutes with a newspaper might be a bit excessive...

Here's what a few agents have to say about it:

"Get organised and go to the toilet before hitting the open inspections. As a rule, you can't use the bathroom but if it's an emergency we would usually allow it. That's really decided on a case-by-case basis though," says Keith Soames, of Keith Soames Real Estate.

Tsaoucis is direct: ask yourself how you would feel if it were your home and strangers wanted to use your toilet.

"If you're busting, we wouldn't say no but never assume that. Always ask the agent first."

The same cannot be said about babies and the use of lounges or rugs to change a nappy, however. "That's a bit more awkward but at the end of the day changing a nappy is something that can usually be done in the car anyway," Tsaoucis says.
So, I suppose, try to find somewhere to stop between houses, but if you can't, then ask nicely and don't take too long.
posted by robcorr at 12:20 AM on April 13, 2007

bathrooms are important. you need to check the coziness factor. A bathroom either has or it or it doesn't and the only way to find out is to stick it out, ya know?
posted by trinarian at 2:33 AM on April 13, 2007

I suppose it depends on whether you're viewing the house with just you and the agent or whether there's several prospective buyers viewing at the same time. If there's a crowd, it could be awkward. If you're the only buyers, then I don't see that there could be a problem.
posted by talitha_kumi at 2:46 AM on April 13, 2007

i would not site bare ass and drop the kids off, but urinate? sure.
posted by goldism at 5:01 AM on April 13, 2007

House unoccupied, just you and the agent: yes, fine.
House occupied, just you, the agent and/or the owner: ask apologetically, probably yes (I wouldn't mind if I was the seller)

Open viewing: no.

Pooing is probably over the boundaries of acceptability.
posted by corvine at 5:15 AM on April 13, 2007

you know, i think if you ask in an appropriate way (laughing at self ruefully, explaining that it's been a real marathon, etc.) and don't, um, linger, you'll be fine.
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:55 AM on April 13, 2007

When we were viewing our (newly-renovated) condo, our broker disappeared for a few minutes to "check out the plumbing".. only to discover TOO LATE that the toilet wasn't hooked up yet.

So.. yeah, don't.
posted by jozxyqk at 5:57 AM on April 13, 2007

In my book, if you have been invited into a house (even by proxy), you are a guest and I can't see why you would apologize for asking to use the bathroom.

Keith Soames, of Keith Soames Real Estate sounds like a total dick and I'm a hard time not wishing prostate trouble on him.
posted by teleskiving at 6:13 AM on April 13, 2007

House unoccupied, just you and the agent: yes, fine.

Huh, really? I was about to post "House unoccupied, just you and the agent: no-one is cleaning the bathroom after you're done and there's no toilet paper to be found."
posted by mendel at 6:30 AM on April 13, 2007

I did, but it was just us and the agent, current occupants not home. I asked first and she said it was fine.

I use that very same bathroom every day now! (or, rather, the nice big bathroom that is in the place where the two old tiny cramped ones were)
posted by bink at 6:38 AM on April 13, 2007

In most cases it would be bad etiquette but if it's an emergency then go for it. Obviously using the facilities can make them dirty which would unappealing for other prospective buyers. You would look pretty shitty if the toilet failed to flush for some reason.
posted by JJ86 at 6:44 AM on April 13, 2007

Our real estate agent said that it was standard practice to use the toliet if you needed to when on a house visit (but then again we only really looked at houses in private rather than at open houses).
posted by mmascolino at 6:56 AM on April 13, 2007

It's an unfortunate necessity. However, if you are self-conscious, just ask the agent, "Do you mind if I wash my hands?" He/she will undoubtedly comply. Then just shut the door behind you, run water, and do what you've gotta do. When you come back out, proceed undaunted.
posted by hermitosis at 7:15 AM on April 13, 2007

Did it a few months ago while looking at houses (privately, not open house.) I didn't ask the agent, but I did flush first to make sure everything was connected/working properly. I don't think there's any sense holding it forever despite whatever etiquette rules it may be violating. However, I also asked to use the bathroom once while picking something up from someone on craigslist, so my sense of boundaries about this kind of thing may be somewhat off.
posted by tatiana wishbone at 7:55 AM on April 13, 2007

If I need to pee, I go. What annoyed me when I was looking at the place I eventually bought was that the agent didn't want me to take the last bits of plastic off the appliances in order to test them. "We want other buyers to know everything's new." And if someone else hadn't realized the plastic was still there and tried to use the stove? Major disaster--as there was when I hadn't been told the water to the dishwasher hadn't been turned on and burned out the motor. It took two months to get it repaired because workers are not let into my building unless they have the insurance certificate filled out a certain way and the one place which had enough funds to cover the three different corporations of my building no longer used the old form.
posted by brujita at 8:05 AM on April 13, 2007

When selling our old house recently, I assumed that visitors might use the bathrooms. I made sure they were clean and neat and had toilet paper, and that the shower curtains and towels were "fluffed" and all the toiletries were put away.

Every viewing that was scheduled in advance also had refreshments. The people who eventually bought the place came back twice and each time ate a whole plate of cookies and drank juice or bottled water. We assumed that the more they ate, the more time they spent and the more they liked the house. And if they stay that long, well, nature takes its course.
posted by Robert Angelo at 8:19 AM on April 13, 2007

I made sure they were clean and neat

Uh, the bathrooms -- I didn't inspect the buyers. :-)
posted by Robert Angelo at 8:21 AM on April 13, 2007

I wouldn't let Mr. Soames be my broker. I can understand that your wife feels that it intrudes on their privacy, but they have signed up for this. You're in a place where there is a functioning toilet. Of course you should use it for its intended purpose. Don't snoop in their medicine cabinet. Consider bringing your own tp.

If you are looking at a house that is rented, and the occupants are already being inconvenienced, maybe you should wait. And if it's new construction, then you should check the plumbing.

Why is it so difficult to find a place to pee in the United States?
posted by theora55 at 10:19 AM on April 13, 2007

Ok, if you're gonna use the potty, at least leave it exactly how you left it! I'd come home after the house was shown and the toilet seat would be up and it was just obvious. That bothered me. I left my house a certain way - please be respectful of that.
posted by Sassyfras at 1:05 PM on April 13, 2007

Visiting a luxury open house meant for brokers only, I watched all the fancy soap and bathroom accessories disappear throughout the night. My broker friend said, yeah that's what we do.
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:11 PM on April 13, 2007

When I was looking at houses last spring my realtor used to use the bathrooms if she needed to. I think I might have done so as well. I find these "it's someone else's toilet" scruples extremely silly.
posted by orange swan at 6:58 PM on April 13, 2007

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