Proper Etiquette for Attending an Open House

Emily Post may have written the book on etiquette, but unfortunately, there’s no chapter devoted to attending an open house. Open houses are an excellent opportunity for potential homebuyers to check out available homes, but can raise a lot of questions for first-timers.

“Is it okay to drop by if we’re not actively looking for a home?” “Is this a good place to speak to an agent even if the home isn’t what I’m looking for?” “Do we need an appointment?”

Today, we’re going to discuss some of the proper etiquette for attending an open house, so you can know what to expect.

It’s important to know that an open house has many goals. Yes, the primary goal is to show an available home to prospective buyers, but there are other goals as well. An open house gives realtors an opportunity to meet potential new clients, and gives the owners a chance to spread the word about their home to friends, family, and co-workers.

Even if you’re not actively looking for a home, you may know someone who is. Telling them about the beautiful home you saw at an open house is the kind of positive word-of-mouth that can sell homes.

Come On In!

When you arrive at an open house, feel free to come right in. Knocking or ringing the doorbell isn’t usually necessary, unless there’s a note on the door that says otherwise. It’s customary to greet the realtor, but if they’re busy with other visitors, you can feel free to take a look around by yourself.

During a typical open house, the seller is usually not present. This allows visitors to feel less pressured to make an offer, and gives them the opportunity to ask pointed questions without fear of offending the seller.

This may not always be the case, however. If you know that the seller is present, try to avoid making overly-negative statements about the home. That’s not to say that constructive criticism is discouraged. Far from it! Pointing out things that bother you about the home, like a poorly painted room or creaky floorboard can help the realtor provide feedback to the seller about changes that can help make the home more marketable.

Look, Don’t Snoop

Most open houses are staged while the seller is still occupying the home, which means all of their belongings are still there. It may be tempting to take a quick peek in the medicine cabinet or drawers, but it’s generally considered bad mannered to do so. If you come across a room with a closed door, double check with the realtor before letting yourself in.

Thanks for Coming!

Many times realtors will leave a signup sheet or guestbook for visitors to sign as they leave. This is a good way to gauge interest in the listing, and put yourself out there to realtors. Even if you aren’t interested in this particular home, the realtor may have additional listings to show you.

While it’s polite to leave your name, you shouldn’t feel obligated to leave a phone number or email if you’re not interested in being contacted.

Hopefully these tips have helped you know what to expect, and what’s expected of you, at an open house. As the #1 realtor in Encinitas, I would be more than happy to talk further about upcoming open houses, and help you to find your dream home.

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