Almost everyone has been to an open house at some time in their life. To some people, it is free entertainment on a Sunday afternoon. Other people want to see what the inside of their neighbor’s house looks like or the inside one of those beautiful houses that they can’t afford. And to some people who are looking to buy a home, it is an opportunity to go through several houses in one day and see what might work for them. As a Realtor, I know that everyone that comes to an open house isn’t looking to buy-and that’s ok. An open house is just that-open to the public- but there are still some rules of etiquette that open house attendees should keep in mind.
When you are planning on going to see an open house I would ask you to keep two things in mind. First, the Realtor who is holding the open house is working. This is their job. They are taking their Sunday afternoon to market their client’s listing to the public and possibly find a buyer or client in the process. Usually, the Realtor will greet you and introduce himself or herself and ask you to sign in. We are responsible for our clients’ property during an open house and we need to know who is coming and going from the property for security reasons and to be able to tell our owner who came through their home that day. If you do not wish to be contacted, you can say that but please still sign in. If you don’t want to be contacted, make a note of that on the sheet and the Realtor will honor that. Our job is to market the home to potential buyers so we are supposed to ask questions like: What do you like/dislike about this home? What do you think about the price? Have you seen any homes today that you like? Do you have a Realtor you are currently working with? Do you have a home you need to sell before you can buy? Please keep in mind that this is our job and when you come to an open house you should expect the Realtor to try to market the home to you as a potential buyer or to see if you would be a potential client for them. We don’t expect to get your life history or your credit card numbers or your blood type but some polite answers to some general questions should not be a problem. We have all had the people that come in and refuse to sign in and won’t
speak to you and just want to be left alone. If you are one of those people, please keep in mind that we ask you to sign in and try to have a conversation with you because we are responsible for this property and it is our job.
The second thing I would like to ask you to think about is how you behave at an open house. Most people that we encounter are very pleasant and happy to sign in and have a little conversation and we enjoy having you come to visit our properties. Occasionally, we have some people that visit our open house and do some things that are not acceptable. We have had minimal problems in this area but there have been some instances of things being stolen at an open house. We always ask our clients to put away valuables but once in a while something disappears. This is one of the reasons why we want to know who is in the house and why we try to keep an eye on where people are on the property. If you are visiting open houses with your children, please keep them with you. It is not a good idea to let your children run around by themselves in someone else’s home. If it is snowing or raining, please expect to remove your shoes so you don’t track all over the house. While it is ok to look in closets at an open house, you don’t really need to open the medicine cabinet or dresser drawers. Someone’s personal property will most likely not be staying with the home so you should not be concerned with the seller’s personal property.
If you are at an open house and it doesn’t suit your needs or you see something about it you don’t like, please keep it to yourselves or discuss it quietly with the Realtor. It is not appropriate to have loud conversations about perceived defects or paint colors you don’t like or things that you think need updating. You are entitled to your opinion but everyone there doesn’t necessarily need to know what it is. People who say negative things about the property while others are present at an open house are being very impolite. There may be family members of the owners there or other people who may be really interested in the home and there is no need to loudly share your opinion that the carpet is the “ugliest color you have ever seen” or “ it looks like an old lady house” or “ it smells like cat in here”. Above all else, please keep in mind that this is somebody’s home. It deserves to be treated with the respect you would want from visitors in your own home. Please keep in mind these reminders the next time you visit an open houses and make it a more enjoyable experience for everyone!