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Open House Etiquette

Open House Etiquette
April 13, 2020 Allison Andrews

Open houses are a popular way to show off a home for sale. For the seller, they can generate a lot of traffic. For the buyer, they are a good opportunity to see a house and get some answers without any pressure. 

Now that the Spring selling season is almost upon us the number of open houses around town on any given weekend will only increase. 

Over the years I have been to a whole lot of open houses and hosted many, both for my listings and other agents’ listings.  I try to counsel my sellers on preparing their house for sale, especially for open houses. However, there have been some mishaps over the years.  One time I showed up for an open house that I was hosting to find a handwritten sign on the office door prohibiting entrance due to a “really sick cat.”  My seller failed to mention that A. Their cat was “Really sick” and B. The Sick cat had a makeshift hospital room in the office. Ummm not very appealing for potential buyers looking that day. Not to mention, a whole room was closed off and unable to be toured.  Kinda negates the purpose of an open house. 

It’s important for the seller to put themselves in the potential buyer’s shoes and create a clean, clutter-free, welcoming home.  

It’s also important for potential buyers to practice good etiquette too.

  1. Remember, it’s not your house yet. That means follow any rules homeowners might request like taking off your shoes before you look around. You might consider wearing slip-on shoes with socks to every showing,  just in case.
  2. Keep your pets and kids at home. It’s safer for everyone. After all, an open house typically has several other people in the home at the same time.  If you are interested in the home, it is totally acceptable to bring the kids back when you return for a private showing. 
  3. Sign In. Signing in gives agents a way to keep track of how many people attended the open house. Even if you are ‘just looking’ leave your name. You don’t have to leave your contact information if you don’t want additional marketing about the home once you leave. Besides, wouldn’t you want to know who was coming and going in your house?
  4. Say hello to the agent. Introduce yourself as you look around. Agents are there to answer any questions you might have about how long a home has been on the market, if it has any problems(disclosure laws require it) or price changes. They can also offer insight beyond the home itself like about the neighborhood or local scene.
  5. Give other buyers space. Let other people leave a room before you go into it. You don’t want anyone eavesdropping on your conversation as you look at a house so do the same for others. This also keeps anyone from feeling ‘rushed’. 
  6. Report any issue to the agent. Hazards, water, problems large or small, make sure the agent on the scene is aware of it. They WANT to fix it and will be able to discuss it further with homeowners. This also helps them track trends about what people are saying that might impact the sale of the house.

You can bet the homeowner and the real estate agent will have done their part to show off the home in the best way for you get a feel for the place and see if it is a home you can picture yourself living in. You should do your part in return by following these few simple etiquette rules.