If you’re in the market for a home, attending an open house is one way to get a first look at a potential property. As with any social situation, there are unspoken rules and expectations for how one must behave. It’s crucial to remember that you are being invited into someone else’s private home. If you’ve never been to an open house before, here are some basic etiquette tips to keep in mind.
Being Punctual Matters
While open houses, by nature, are a drop-in event, that doesn’t mean you should show up early or at the tail end and expect to be greeted with open arms. Don’t show up at 2:30 for an open house that begins at 3 PM. It can be nerve-racking enough to open your home to strangers without having those strangers show up early while you’re still trying to prepare. Also, be courteous of the realtor’s time. Showing up at the tail end of an open house, or worse – after the open house has concluded, can wreak havoc on the agent’s schedule. If you aren’t able to attend during the listed open house time frame, contact the agent to schedule a private showing at another time.
Keep Kids in Check
While some might say that bringing your kids to an open house is out of the question, however, we all know there are times when you can’t find a sitter or maybe making a last-minute decision to attend. If you need to bring your children, keep a close eye on them. Again, you’re in someone else’s home, with their belongings; if your child is running about unsupervised or rifling through the homeowners’ possessions is unacceptable. Others attending the open house are there to view the home, and the agent is responsible for the safety of the home and their client’s belongings. If you know your child will be disruptive to this process, it’s best to schedule a private showing at a different time.
Leave Things As You Found Them
Hopefully, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t open drawers or closet doors during an open house. Again, someone is likely still living in the home, and they didn’t invite you in to go through their belongings and check out the medicine cabinet. If you are genuinely interested in the house but are concerned about any necessary repairs, save it for a private showing or the home inspection.
Another part of leaving things as you found them is wiping your feet before you enter the home. If there is a sign or the agent requests that you remove your shoes, do so. The seller has spent time cleaning their home and doesn’t need you to track mud and leaves throughout the house.
The agent cannot be everywhere at once. As a precaution, you will need to sign in when you arrive. This provides the agent with your information, but it also serves as a record of who has been in the home should an issue arise.
You’ll also want to let the agent know if an agent is already representing you. This way, they won’t waste time trying to solicit your business. This leaves them free to spend time talking with those who may still be looking for an agent and you to view the house in peace. If you have questions, feel free to ask, but also remember you can write them down and give them to your agent to pass along later if you decide you’re interested in the house.
There are plenty of areas in the home for you to explore without having to be in the same room as others. It’s polite to give each other space. Wait until other guests have left a room before entering.
Keep Ideas and Opinions to Yourself
There’s no need to criticize the sellers’ taste in furnishings or decor. It’s also best to keep any remodeling ideas to yourself. Some sellers will stay away during an open house, but others may want to be present. You wouldn’t want to inadvertently offend the seller. It could come back to bite you if you make an offer, and they reject it because they found you to be rude during the open house.
When in doubt, aim to be polite and courteous. Following these guidelines will make you a welcome open house guest. And hopefully, you’ll find the home of your dreams in the process.