So you’re house hunting or maybe you’re out and about and see some open house signs and decide to check it out.
Do you know what to expect or the etiquette involved when you attend an open house?
Who is hosting the open house?
Open houses are part of the real estate marketing process; they are a great vehicle for creating excitement and “buzz” when introducing a new listing to the market.
Keep in mind that the agent/broker hosting the open house may be the agent representing the seller (the listing agent) or another agent who may be trying to meet new buyers or obtain new clients. The easiest way to make that determination is to note the name of the agent on the sign in the yard and then check the name of the host. If the listing agent is hosting the open house and you’re a serious buyer and very interested in this particular house, you might want to watch what you say and not divulge too much information about your situation. Remember the listing agent works for the seller – you don’t want to compromise your negotiating position if you end up making an offer on the house.
Either way, the person holding the open house is most likely an expert on the market and the neighborhood. Some buyers actually find an agent to work with and represent them at an open house, especially if the agent seems knowledgeable and you connect with them. Once you get serious about buying or selling, you’ll want and need an advocate on your side so use the open house as a way to interview agents.
Take off your shoes
It’s basic common courtesy, so take off your shoes or put on a pair of booties (usually provided at the door). Also to avoid the risk of spills, stains or crumbs, avoid bringing food or drink into the house.
For Safety Purposes — Sign in
Yes, there will be a sign-in sheet or an electronic device with an open house sign-in app. You might not want to share your information but remember you are in someone else’s home. If it were your home wouldn’t you want to know who was coming through it?
Brokers have a responsibility to know who was in the house for the security of the seller’s property. Signing in also allows brokers to keep track of the number of people who attend the open house and where they come from. Then they share the number of people and any feedback about the house with the owner so as to help gauge the amount of interest in the home. Also agents typically send a follow-up thank you note or email (sent automatically with a sign-in app) for attending their open house but they won’t continue to contact you if you ask them not to.
Consider too that agents are in a vulnerable position. You never know if someone nefarious could use the open house to case the home or even possibly attack the agent; knowing who has been through the house adds an extra layer of security. In some markets, people might even be asked for their photo ID before touring the home.
If you are already working with an real estate agent, ask your agent to give you some of their business cards. That way you can present their card to the agent hosting the open house; they’ll just ask for your name and won’t ask for the rest of your information. Agent relationships are very important and we wouldn’t want to offend another agent by contacting their client.
Keep an Eye on the Kids and Stay Together
Agents are responsible for the home during the open house and do their best to make sure the homeowner’s possessions don’t get broken or stolen. So stay together and keep an eye on the kids and don’t let them run around or touch anything. Feel free to open cabinets and closets but don’t go through the homeowner’s things. If you want to take photos or video, ask the broker’s permission.
Agents don’t bite!
Yes, the hosting agent will ask you for your sign-in information–keep in mind it is someone else’s property–but we’re just there to help. We typically know all about the house, the market, the neighborhood, and the schools, so feel free to ask questions.
Of course, not all homes on the market have an open house. To expand your touring options, you might consider working with a buyer’s agent. I’d be happy to represent you as your buyer’s agent. Just call or text me!
About Carol Juntunen: I'm a Realtor® with Baird & Warner in the Chicago area. My intention is to provide insights and information to empower you to make confident, informed real estate choices and decisions, and guide you through the home buying and selling process.
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