How to Rock as a Guest at an Open House

Last time we chatted, we went over the best suggestions for a successful open house if you are a seller. This time we will tackle this sensitive, yet necessary conversation about open house etiquette from the perspective of a potential buyer. Isn’t that why we check out the local open house listings trekking from one neighborhood to the next? Because we are searching for a new home? Ahhh. No. Not everyone attending the local open house listings are potential buyers. Some people actually attend open houses every Sunday for entertainment. Some attendees are neighbors who just want to take a peek and perhaps compare their own home to the one listed for sale on their street. Others might be on the lookout for how their home might fair in the market.

Let’s start with the potential home buyer. Some things are obvious. Before you plot out your list of homes to explore, make sure the homes on your list fit your criteria so you can take an honest approach prior to falling in love with a home out of your price range, not in your desired school district, or maybe too far from your desired location. A real estate professional will guide your through this process. Hopefully, you are working with a Key Lime Real Estate, Inc. professional agent, who will not only lead you in the right direction to the home of your dreams, but also make sure you are prequalified in order to know which homes will fit your criteria. This step will save you headaches and heartaches!

If you are working with a real estate agent who encourages you to shop on your own by visiting open houses, please be up front and honest with the agent hosting the open house. We need to know this information to make the open house easier for us and smoother for you. If you have zero intention of employing us for your home search, we need to know that so we can focus on those folks in attendance who may be searching for an agent. Sound harsh? Perhaps, but by giving us fair warning that you will not be hiring us, we can seek out those who might need our professional services. Please remember that this is our job! It’s what we do to make a living. We need to focus on how we are going to be successful for our sellers, not provide another agent with an easier job by doing his or her work for them. Sometimes potential buyers tell us at the end of the tour, after we have exhausted all our best sales efforts to no avail. That leads us to another point. Suppose you do not want to deal with a real estate sales agent? I would suggest not going to the open house! Seriously, here are some tips on proper open house etiquette.

First, please sign in if asked to do so. Do not run past the agent. Yes, people do that. The agent has been hired to not only attract potential buyers, but to also provide security for the home. We need to know who is in the home and keep track for security purposes. Think about it like it is your home. You would want the agent to provide a minimum of security for your home and belongings as well. If you do not want the agent to contact you, please state so, but sign in anyway. We tend to think your intentions might not be honorable when you dash past us to tour the home solo.

If you are working with a real estate sales agent, please do not exhaust the hosting agent’s hospitality. Save somethings for your own agent. If you see there are others in attendance who need the attention of the hosting agent, be gracious enough to release that agent’s attention to focus on potential buyers, and then contact your own agent. That is our purpose at the open house.

If you are out for entertainment, we really do not mind as long as you inform us of that as you enter the home. Let us know! We might actually enjoy showing you the home, if we aren’t busy with potential buyers. If you are a neighbor just checking the home out, we are ok with that too. Sometimes great neighbors can attract their own friends or family to a home and not only help sell it, but also choose their new neighbors. Just be honest and up front.

Some of the pros for visiting open houses, if you are selling your own home, include scoping out your competition, understanding current home values, and seeking a great real estate agent. We really hope to sell the home during the open house, but we equally appreciate showcasing our skills to potential clients. Check us out while we are doing our job!

If you are buying a home, an open house is the obvious place to start your search. You can see a variety of homes at your leisure without appointments. You can see what is selling in your desired area and what your particular price point will allow you to purchase. That long must-have list that you just can’t chisel down will also be something to consider as you tour homes on the market.

The process for visiting an open house is fairly simple. The open house will be listed on the local MLS, so if you are working with a real estate professional, you can be assured that the open house list will be mapped out in a convenient manner and you will be represented by a professional. The homes on the list will be homes that you have been prequalified by a mortgage professional to see. If you are working without a real estate agent, you might consider hiring one in order to maximize your time and effort and minimize disappointments as you search for your dream home. When an open house is listed on the MLS, the agent usually advertises it as well. Additionally, it is generated to all of the online sites such as Zillow and, so it is a heavily advertised event. If you find your dream home on your open house tour, don’t spend too much time debating whether or not to put in an offer. If you snooze, you will lose, and you’ll be back to square one.

Often, the listing agent hosts the open house. If you have questions, now is the time to ask. The agent has spent a great deal of time learning as much as possible about your potential new home. The hosting agent will greet the guests, answer questions, and provide guided tours of the home. If they provide refreshments, please don’t be shy! Enjoy the goodies!

Be respectful of the home! If the home has carpeting, removing your shoes will provide a Zen quality move of respect! Thank you! If the flooring is hardwood floors and you are wearing spiked stiletto shoes, as beautiful as they might be, please be considerate and remove them prior to walking through the home. Should you decide to buy the home, your heel prints will already part of your new floor’s personality should you refrain from removing your shoes. If you do not purchase the home, some other lucky home buyer will have your mark on their floors. Some open house agents provide disposal booties to wear throughout the tour. Use them.

Take notes. Ask first, but many agents will welcome you to take photos. If you are communicating long distance with a spouse or other significant person to the buying process, you may want to do a Facetime or video call. Just ask prior to filming. It’s the considerate thing to do.

If you are working with another agent and you fall in love with the home, the proper thing to do is to call your agent who will set up a private showing to see the home again or submit an offer. If the market is a fast-moving market, you will want to contact your agent asap. If you are not working with another agent, the hosting agent will be thrilled to submit an offer for you and begin a working relationship with you.

If the open house is listed for sale and hosted by the owner, your best direction to proceed if you are interested in the home is to hire a real estate agent to represent you through the process. Remember, in most cases the home buyer does not pay the real estate commissions so you will not be out any additional funds.

What do you need to do besides look at the aesthetics of the home and determine the neighborhood?

*Ask questions! You will need to know the details prior to making an offer on the home.

  1. Is there an HOA? If so, how much is it? You will also need to know what the HOA restrictions are and how they might affect you.
  2. Is the listing in a CDD (Community Development District), and how much are those fees?
  3. Is the home in a flood or evacuation zone? How much is the flood insurance? Get a quote from a your homeowner’s insurance company or a reputable home insurance company if you do not currently own a home.

These three simple questions could answer any potential surprise fees that will add to your monthly payments.

*Has there been any renovations, additions, or repairs that might have needed to have been permitted and are those permits recorded? This could save you a huge headache in the purchasing process.

*Is there visible water damage? Look for stains on the ceiling, warped baseboards or musty smells.

*Test the home’s functions such as doors, cabinets and drawers. Flush the toilets. Run the water in the bathrooms and kitchen.

*Now is a great time to check for damages and disrepairs. Take a look at the windows. Is the paint flaking? Are the sashes misaligned? Is there condensation due to air leaks?  These could be indicators that the windows need to be replaced.

*How much are the taxes? Has the property been homesteaded? While each individual homeowner will receive personalized tax exemptions, it’s a starting point to estimate your own.

*Ask any other pertinent questions you may have.

Now for some tips:

First and foremost, be polite and respectful. Reverse the situation and consider that it could be your home with strangers streaming through your most intimate and private space – your home. Consider that while sellers want to sell their home, they also want it to be respected and safe.

The DO list includes greeting the host and introducing yourself. Again, be up front if you are represented by another real estate professional. Sign in if requested. This a safety issue for the seller, the agent, and other open house visitors.

*Take notes if you are seriously in the market for a new home.

*Request permission if you wish to take photos or video record your tour.

*Be respectful of others in attendance.

*If there are other guests, allow them to exit a room before you attempt to enter.

*If there is a feedback form, please fill it out. We want your feedback!

*Thank the person hosting the event and announce your exit.

Now that we have accomplished our TO DO list, let’s talk about the DON’T list!

*Please do not allow your children to run amuck through the home. We know they get excited and want to “pick out their room,” but they must be supervised for their own safety, as well as for the safety of the home.

*If there are any “rules” associated with the open house, please be respectful of those requests.

*Don’t be overly critical of the home out loud. If you don’t like the home or the style or the decorations, take personal notes. If you are attending with others, wait until you get in your car to be critical!

*Sometimes people engage in serious conversations about the homes they visit. Allow them to have private conversations. After all, buying a home is one of the biggest, most expensive decisions you can make.

*Don’t touch personal belongings or open personal spaces such as clothing drawers. It’s ok to open closets and kitchen cabinets, but keep in mind you will not be purchasing dressers or other furniture where personal belongings might be kept.

*Don’t bring food or beverages! If you are enjoying a double cheeseburger, please wait until it’s down the hatch prior to entering the home. It goes without saying that you will need to locate a trash bin if you complete your meal prior to the end of your tour, plus those extra onions will cause odors that might be offensive to other guests. We won’t even discuss spilling your coffee on the white carpeting!

*I’m sure this will be a sore spot to animal lovers. Don’t bring your pets into someone else’s home! There are so many factors that are involved, but I’ll just list a few.

*Your little Poopsy may do just that!

*While your animal is the very best on the planet, there could still be an issue with strangers and potential biting problems.

*Others in attendance, and even the homeowner, might have allergies that your animal could present, and in some cases, those allergies could be severe.

Now that you are fairly well armed and educated to participate in your local open houses, we encourage you to seek out the homes that interest you and go forth and visit. We wish you the best as you search for your dream home. Connect with us if you have any questions or if you’d like to visit some open houses and be professionally represented.