Open House Etiquette Rules For Buyers And Sellers

24 March 2016
Neil Bosdet



Buying or Selling a home? If you are, you will probably go to or host open houses. Open Houses are meant to showcase the best aspects of a home, attract qualified buyers, and help to generate interest among buyers and real estate professionals.

Though relatively few open houses bring an immediate purchase offer, the Bosdet Home’s Team feel they are a necessary part of our overall marketing strategy because potential buyers will interact with other potential buyers and such an environment can create a sense of urgency, especially in a Seller’s Market!

If you are in the market to buy a home or are putting your house on the market for sale, you should be familiar with some etiquette rules for open houses.



Open House Rules for Sellers

If you are getting ready to sell your property, you will want to make a great first impression and there is more than keeping your home clean and tidy. Nearly every home search now a days begins on the internet. Images are worth thousands of words, or dollars, in this case. Put yourself in a buyer’s shoes and highlight the most attractive features of your home. Depersonalize each and every room, empty all closets and cabinets to about 30 percent full so that potential buyers can see their belongings fitting in, and fix anything that’s broken.

Your photos are essentially an “Invitation” and opening the first door to sell your home. In order to make sure you attract the right guests and sell your home quicker and for top dollar, consider the following:

Make sure the house is clean and well-maintained; clear the counters and rid the clutter.

Stage your home to set the mood.

Give attention to the exterior, pumping-up the curb appeal is a must. It’s a good idea to pressure wash the exterior and add some color to your landscaping.

Yes, all these preparatory steps are important, their power of persuasion can’t be undone if you don’t follow open house etiquette for sellers:



1. LET YOUR LISTING AGENT HOST THE OPEN HOUSES

It’s best to remove yourself from the home during open houses and let your listing agent do their job unfettered. This will prevent you from from shadowing people and making them feel uncomfortable as they tour your house.



2. DON’T LEAVE PETS IN THE HOME

Cute and cuddly as they may be, pets are a big no-no when it comes to hosting an open house. Regardless of their disposition, pets will always do more harm than good in marketing a home for sale.



3. PARK YOUR CAR(S) SOMEWHERE OTHER THAN THE DRIVEWAY

Many sellers make the mistake of leaving their own vehicle(s) in the driveway and that’s a big mistake. Make as much room as possible for your visitors and potential buyers.



4. LEAVE KEY DOCUMENTS IN A CONSPICUOUS PLACE

Place the pre-sale home inspection, the appraisal, and the warranty in plain view for buyers to look over.



Open House Etiquette for Buyers

When you take a weekend or day to tour open homes, you should do so not just to look, but to gather useful information. This will help you to make a good decision when you put-in an offer to purchase. Before you start touring homes, know the open house rules for buyers:welcome



1. SIGN IN

For security reasons, sellers rightfully want to know who’s entering their home. In fact, some agents won’t even let you in the door without showing ID. If you’re worried about the seller’s agent harassing you, add “do not call” next to your name, or sign your own agent’s name on the sheet instead.



2. FIND OUT IF THE OPEN HOUSE AGENT IS THE LISTING AGENT

Find out if the agent holding the open is the listing agent. Not always is the agent on the For Sale sign is the agent hosting the Open House. Sometimes two agents co-list a home. If you happen to buy through the listing agent, you could find yourself in dual agency. Sometimes the agent holding the listing open will not be the listing agent but an associate agent. This agent will be hoping to represent a buyer to buy that home or, for that matter, any other home.



3. DISCLOSE IF YOU ARE BUYERS WITH AGENT REPRESENTATION

If you are already working with an agent, you should pass on this information to the agent hosting the open house. Realtors are required to ask buyers if the buyer is working with another agent, but sometimes this may be forgotten.

The easiest way to inform the agent you meet that you are working with another agent is to walk in with your agent’s card in hand. Just give it to the other agent and say, “This is my agent.” Armed with this information, the agent at the home will not try to solicit you.



4. USE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO “SHOP” FOR AGENT REPRESENTATION

If you have not yet decided on an agent, let the agent at the home know that you are still shopping for a buyer’s agent. Maybe you will want to interview the agent to determine if you want to work with that person. Ask the tough questions to get the right answers.

Open houses are a good way to find an agent because you will meet face-to-face. You can witness the agent in action as well.



5. HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY

Most agents are fine with buyers who drop in on an open house simply because it is open, coming in to take a peek. Just be up front about your motives so the agent doesn’t neglect a real potential buyer while entertaining you. Just tell the agent you have no inclination to buy. You can still tour the home, but be careful – you may be that person who decides to buy a home because you unexpectedly and immediately fall in love with the house!



6. TELL THE AGENT YOU ARE A NEIGHBOUR

You might think the agent doesn’t want you to come to the open house if you are a neighbor, but actually, the agent would love to show the home and get your feedback. Neighbors are a great source of information. In addition, you might have a friend or coworker who could be interested in the home. So don’t feel embarrassed to admit to the agent that you are “a neighbor from down the street.



7. LEAVE THE KIDS AT HOME

Leaving your kids at home will allow you the ability to walk through open homes without having to tend to your children. If leaving them home isn’t an option, then keep them close to you when you tour homes.



8. USE COMMON SENSE AND BE POLITE

Pretend you’re going to your grandmother’s house and act accordingly. Be on your best behaviour: Take off your shoes, keep your kids in check (e.g. no running), don’t use the bathroom, talk at a reasonable volume and turn off your cell phone. Also, politely ask pointed questions, after all, that’s why you’re in the home in the first place. Ask about the history of the home and any other questions that come to mind.













9. COME PREPARED

Bring a measuring tape, a notepad and pencil, or use your smartphone to take notes.



10. ONE QUESTION NEVER TO ASK

“Is there any flexibility on the price?” Remember: The agent is representing the seller, not you. The price is the price. To reveal everything they know (good and bad) about the property or the seller’s flexibility would be acting against their client’s (and their) best interest.

Furthurmore, you don’t want to try to negotiate a deal on-the-spot. Since you’ll be in-the-moment, you’re very likely to leave your critical thinking cap off and make an emotional decision. It is better to take some time to think and go back alone with your agent for a personal showing at another time.

Open Houses can be a great marketing tool for Sellers and a good way to familiarize yourself with the current market and available homes to Buyers. You can find a current listing of all Open Houses in Victoria at the following link http://www.vreb.org/open-houses