If you’re actively in search of a new home or are just mulling over the idea of making a home purchase, open houses present an ideal opportunity to visit homes that have recently been listed on the market. There’s no need to make an appointment. Instead, you can just show up any time during the scheduled open house and check out the home at your leisure.
But the purpose of an open house is to sell homes. Sellers willingly allow complete strangers to make their way into their homes in hopes that at least one of the visitors will put in a decent offer. Considering the big sacrifice that sellers are making by prepping for an open house and opening their doors to the public, buyers should at least reciprocate by following a certain standard of etiquette.
If you’re planning to attend an open house this weekend, keep the following tips in mind to make sure you don’t step on the sellers’ toes or sabotage your negotiating power should you decide to put in an offer.
Don’t Take Up Too Much of the Agent’s Time
Sellers and their agents are putting in a lot of effort to hold an open house. And while there will certainly be a lot of visitors who are just passing the time on a Sunday afternoon, open houses aren’t meant for social gatherings.
After you’ve entered the home and briefly chatted with the listing agent, move on. Don’t spend all of your time chit chatting with the listing agent and taking their time away from other potential buyers.
Sure, you want to get as much info on the home as possible, especially if you’re interested in the home. But you can get all the detailed info you need from the property description sheet or brochure that is typically handed out at open houses.
Ask For Permission to Take Photos
You might want to take a picture of certain parts of the home so you can assess them after you’ve gone home for further consideration. But keep in mind that this is someone else’s home.
You likely wouldn’t feel comfortable having a stranger take photos of the inside of your house without your explicit permission, so make sure you ask for permission from the listing agent before you start snapping photos at an open house.
Don’t Be Too Nosy While Going Through Drawers and Closets
While it’s perfectly fine and even expected that buyers will be opening and closing all doors and drawers, it’s quite another thing to rummage through the seller’s personal things. Don’t mindlessly pull drawers open and sift through piles of clothes or jewelry boxes. Not only is that somewhat rude and inconsiderate, but it’s also an invasion of privacy.
Hold the Harsh Comments Until After You Leave
Sellers typically aren’t present during their open houses, specifically because it usually makes buyers feel uncomfortable. Buyers like to have the flexibility to go through the home and make comments without feeling as if the sellers are listening to every word or breathing down their necks.
That said, you might still want to practice a little bit of composure and hold back on some particularly harsh comments about the house. If there are some things that really turn you off, there’s no harm in saying something about it – within reason. The listing agent is still present in the home and likely within earshot, so you still want to be careful about what you say.
If you end up putting in an offer on the home, the listing agent may remember you and the comments you made, which can end up hurting your competitive edge if you find yourself competing with other buyers for the same property.
Don’t Give Away Too Much Information
Not only should you watch what you say about the property, but you should also be careful about the amount of information you divulge about your situation that could weaken your negotiating power. While there’s nothing wrong with discussing a little bit about your situation, giving out too much info about your motivations can be used against you at the negotiating table.
The Bottom Line
If you play your cards right when attending an open house, you can make the most of your visit, especially if you wind up putting in an offer. But beyond that, never forget that you’re walking around someone else’s home, so always be courteous.