The following tips are open house etiquette guidelines that I share with my buyers to have a pleasant open house hunting experience:
Have a game plan. Open houses are generally held from 1-4 pm on Sunday afternoons- if you are planning to see more than one house, allow yourself enough time to see each home and travel to the next one.
Wear a comfortable but appropriate outfit. Keep it reasonable- a suit is not necessary nor is a disheveled appearance appropriate. You’re going to do a lot of walking through rooms and up and down stairs so wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Home owners may request that you remove your shoes when touring their home, so be prepared to take off your shoes upon arrival if asked.
Be polite to the host. Smile and greet the real estate agent. Sign in– agents will request that you provide them with your name, phone number, email address, where you heard of the open house and if you are currently working with an agent. This is also a courtesy so homeowners know who was inside their home.
Focus on the property. Agents should provide a MLS (property description) sheet with information including square footage, number of bedrooms & bathrooms and any special features. Take notes and check off things as you walk through the house. If square footage is important to you, bring a tape measure.
Before you take pictures or record video–Ask for permission. Remember the home is still someone’s private residence so before you snap a photo or pull out the camcorder, ask permission.
Look in — not rummage through — closets, drawers and cupboards. Make sure there’s enough storage space in the home, but don’t go through someone else’s private belongings.
Hold your criticism until after you leave. Like you learned when you were younger, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Wait until you leave the house before you criticize the sellers home, remember they call this house HOME.
Hire a babysitter or keep a watchful eye over your children. Remember, the Realtor is not there to babysit your children, and homeowners typically still live in the homes you visit. Child are naturally curious and may want to play with toys they see or touch everything…this is still someone’s home, so please be respectful of their belongings, keep your children close, or better yet, leave them at home with a babysitter so you can focus on the properties.
These are just a few of the tips I have learned from holding open houses and share with my clients when they are going to open houses around the area.