Open houses are a great way to find your next home. They allow you to leisurely look at a home and ask the selling agent questions. There may even be snacks!
But open houses are not free-for-alls. You are a guest entering a seller’s house and should respect their home and belongings. You also need to consider the agent’s time and effort in setting up the open house. By following some simple rules of open house etiquette, it can be a rewarding experience for all parties involved.
Show up on time
Everyone knows the old saying “The early bird gets the worm.” But showing up before a scheduled open house time could leave a bad taste in the mouth of the homeowner or agent. If the listed time is from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., avoid showing up at 1:30 p.m. or 7 p.m.
Dress the part
An open house isn’t a formal event. However, you don’t want to be too casual either. Dress like you’re there to buy your next home. Think business casual—you want to avoid clothing that is stained or torn. If this is the right house, leaving a good impression with the agent can make a big impact.
Ring the bell or walk on in?
This could be the first step to buying your dream home, so make sure it is a good one. Every agent will hold an open house slightly different. But when you arrive, you typically will not have to knock on the door or ring the doorbell unless you’re directed to.
Register when you enter
Before you begin your tour, there may be a sign-up sheet. This is an important step in the process. First, it allows you to provide your contact info to the selling agent easily. If this is your dream home, providing your information upfront can help speed up the negotiating process.
Leaving your name and information also protects the homeowner. They are not typically present for the open house, and the agent cannot be in every room at once. This log can be used if, worst case scenario, there are any damages.
Mind your feet
Remember: you’re going into a someone else’s home. Wear shoes that are free of debris and that won’t damage any flooring. Wipe your feet before going inside.
Don’t enter a home and just remove your shoes. This is a little bit too forward. At the same time, be prepared to comply if the owners have rules about wearing shoes inside their house. Wear socks or bring a pair along just in case. The real estate agent may ask you to wear open house booties while walking through the home.
Planning on wearing high heels? It may be best to avoid walking on the lawn to make sure you don’t damage the homeowner’s hard work.
Keep your hands (and opinions) to yourself
When going to an open house, there is a reasonable expectation you’ll want to open closets to look at storage space or checkout what the basement looks like. But there are several things that can fall into the going too far category. These can include:
- Flipping light switches
- Flushing or using the toilets
- Running faucets
- Sitting down on furniture
- Opening electrical boxes
If this is the house for you, there will be a time later in the process when you can take a deeper dive.
Also, if you want to take a photo, make sure to ask the agent before doing so. This is still someone’s home, and they may prefer you not take photos or videos of certain things in the home. Being courteous can go a long way.
If the house isn’t for you, wait until you leave to raise any criticisms. You wouldn’t want someone walking through your home and criticizing it. Take notes, and review them afterward with your family or agent away from the property.
No kidding around
If you can find a babysitter for your children, that might be the best route. But in the event that isn’t an option, you should keep your kids with you at all times. You don’t know what someone has in their home, and the last thing you want is to lose a chance of buying the house due to something one of your children does. It could even be a good option to rotate in and out of the house with your significant other while one of you stays in the car with the kids.
Be courteous to other viewers
Open houses can get busy. You’ll want to make sure you get a good view of the home, but also be aware of other potential buyers. Before entering a room, make sure no one else is there. There’s no reason to overcrowd a small space. You can either wait or go to another part of the house.
Interact with the agent
The showing agent might be at the door when you arrive or be in another portion of the house. They should be able to answer any questions you have. But don’t commandeer the agent’s time. If interested, make sure to grab a business card. This can allow you to reach out with more detailed question if you’re interested in the house.
Don’t linger too long
Do your due diligence. But if the schedule for the open house is for four or five hours, don’t spend the entire time there. Use the time efficiently: take notes, ask questions, and get a feel for the house.
Make sure you make the most of the open house. This is an exciting experience and could be the first step to your next home!