Open House Etiquette - Dos and Donts

As a real estate agent who has held hundreds of open houses, I’ve been inspire to help educate people on how to act at open houses. I’ve seen just about everything... The general principle is to be honest and open to the agent hosting it. It should be a fun experience. 

1. Let the agent know who you are. Open houses are open to neighbors, buyers, agents...

Agents host open houses to help people ad provide as much service and value as possible. I always seek to help potential homebuyers in a different way than neighbors looking for remodel ideas. Are you a potential buyer for the property? Let the agent know this upon walking in.

Just a neighbor who wants to be nosey or look at remodels ideas? Come on in! Let the agent know and they will show you what has been done to the property. Followed signs to a random house? Let the agent know how you got there and tel them they did a fantastic job setting their signs up.

Agents are here to help you be creating a positive, value-added experience for everyone.

2. Some agents act like a stereotypical used car salesman. How do I deal with them?

Some agents will follow you around the house, and be giving you heir rehearsed sales pitch. They feel like something that has stuck to you and won’t let you go – much like a stereotypical used car salesman. In this situation, tell the agent that you would like to look at the property on your own. Follow it up with, “I will come to you if I have any questions.”

If the agent doesn’t respect your wish to look on your own, then say this, “sir/madam, I do not wish to do business with you because you are too pushy/mean/aggressive/etc...” This message is direct, gets the point across and gets these leech-like agents off of your back.

3. Should I take my shoes off?

Ask the agent if you should take your shoes off before entering. Also consider asking the agent if you should remove your shoes before going upstairs, particularly if it is carpeted.

4. The agent is requiring me to sign in at the front, what should I do?

Some sellers request that they have everyone sign in. If you do not wish to give your personal information, simply write a wrong phone number and a wrong email address. Agents do not expect everyone to give up personal information.

5. Can I test things? Move stuff? Open and close things?

As agents we expect people to open and close some windows, try some light switches and maybe even run the faucet to see the water pressure. Go ahead and test doors, faucets, side gates, garage doors and windows. I would recommend you do not use appliances (dishwashers, microwaves, etc...). 

6. What should I wear?

Be as comfortable as possible. Home searching should be an enjoyable experience. Agents are accustomed to people wearing their work-out gear and weekend clothes at open houses.

7. Uncertain about anything? Have questions? Confused about something? Ask the agent

If you have any questions, ask the agent. They are there to help everyone who comes in. Ask them anything and everything, seriously! Agents expect, and often get askew a multitude of questions. Topics often include: price, seller motivation, nearby school ratings, current real estate market trends, and a whole lot more. Agents are there to help, so ask away!

8. Can I interview agents at open houses to work with me?

Absolutely! This happens very frequently. Often times potential home buyers will come in and talk to agents to get a feel for them. Ask them a few questions about how many transactions they’ve done and how long they’ve been in real estate. If you feel like they will be a good fit to help with your real estate needs, offer them your contact information. Conclude the conversation by telling them you would like to be represented by them in their purchase.

9. Can I visit open houses without my agent?

Open houses are great opportunities to view properties while your agent is unavailable. Upon saying hello to the hosting agent, inform them that your agent was unavailable and you were so excited about the house, you had to come without them. Before you go to open houses, discuss with you agent which properties you plan on attending, it is an important discussion.

10. Should I interact with other people attending the open house?

This is entirely up to you. It is very much like being in the same restaurant. Some people are more talkative than others. Creating a fun and friendly environment is always a good option.

Concluding notes...

Open houses should be fun and enjoyable. They should create a stress-free environment for everyone who comes in. I like to greet everyone who comes in and introduce myself, then let them take a look on their own. Other agents will guide you through the property. These are different styles of hosting, neither is necessarily better or worse.

When you do encounter pesky, low-quality agents (which just about everyone does), ignore them and tell them you want to look at the property on your own. Be rude to rude agents... Also make sure to be joyful and polite to wonderful agents you encounter.

Let the agent know who you are and why you came to the property. If you have questions, ask away! Agents are a highly valuable source of information on the property, the overall market, financial questions, tips and ideas, and a whole lot more. The more questions you ask, the better your real estate experience will be. 

San Clemente, CA
San Clemente, CA

*This was written by Nick Ahrens in 2017. It is merely an opinion, not intended to be a definitive system that works every time for everyone. Every homebuyer and family is different and all are in a different situations; because of this, talk to your local real estate expert to modify your search and customize your approach. Nick Ahrens, Remax Premier Realty, Kamran Realtors and their affiliates are not liable or responsible for any loss in attempted interpretation and use of this information.