Open House Etiquette – Do’s & Don’ts
Open houses are a staple of the home buying process – A thirty or sixty minute window of opportunity for eager home buyers to inspect and experience a property before deciding to make an offer to purchase. But in today’s hot, highly competitive market, where some open houses can attract dozens upon dozens of interested buyers, it is important to observe certain guidelines to ensure that the inspection is a smooth and enjoyable experience for all involved.
Here’s what you need to know.
In the tight, competitive market of today, it is natural for keen buyers to want to show their eagerness by turning up early for the open house. While it is always good to be early, it’s important to note that being early does not necessarily mean you are going to give yourself a better opportunity to secure the property. More importantly, you should respect the fact that the owners (or tenants) are still living in this property, and they are most likely preparing to vacate and hand it over to the agent for the inspection approximately ten to fifteen minutes prior to advertised start – It is extremely awkward if this handover is occurring to a backdrop of twenty people crowding around them on the front lawn.
First and foremost, if you are early to the open house, then stay in the car until the advertised start time or until the agent hangs their home open flag and sends the signal that the open house has begun. Impatiently standing on the front lawn twenty minutes prior to the advertised open time (or before the agent has even arrived) is often seen as rude by owners and tenants and this will not boost your chances of buying (or renting) the property. Instead, it is better to simply wait in the car and wander in once the open house has officially started.
Do I Need to Sign in?
The simple answer is yes – You will need to register your personal contact details prior to entering the property. This is necessary for two reasons; Firstly, So that the owner has a record of who has entered the property for security reasons, and secondly, so that the agent has a means of contact to seek further feedback.
It is understandable in this day and age for people to sometimes not want to volunteer their personal contact data for fear of being harassed with spam email and telemarketing calls – If this is the case, then just let the agent know you don’t wish to receive any further contact. But you will still need to register for security reasons, and the agent (under authority from the property owner) has the right to refuse you entry if you neglect to do so.
Who Can I Bring With Me?
It’s normal (particularly for first home buyers) to want to bring a family member or third party to give a second opinion. This is fine, but you should not invite large groups or extended family. Once again, you should remember that this is someone’s home, and as such it needs to be treated with respect. And having twenty or thirty people walking through the house at once can be very intimidating and intrusive for the owners or tenants. With so many people coming through, it also makes it a nightmare to manage for the agent, so instead try to minimize the number of people you bring with you as this helps facilitate a much smoother open house process.
Children are always welcome – They are part of the family after all. But you must be mindful of their behaviour and if they are disruptive then they will need to be restrained and/or taken outside. While it is important that they get an opportunity to experience the property as well, they cannot touch the occupant’s personal belongings, disturb or obstruct the other attendees from quietly and peacefully inspecting the home, or cause damage to the property.
What Can I Touch?
Again, this is someone’s home, so treat it with the same degree of respect that you would hope for people to afford you in the same situation. Always remove shoes if directed to, don’t touch personal belongings, and ask permission from the agent to open cupboards, activate tapware or electrical appliances, or enter rooms which have the door closed.
Also, you should never take photos or film video footage of the property without first clearing this with the agent. Such photos and footage will contain the owner or tenant’s personal belongings and in some cases this will not be appropriate. In some instances this will be ok but you should always check with the agent first.
How Should I Go About Engaging With The Agent?
If the open house is particularly busy, you will often find a crowd of people forming around the agent, asking questions and attempting to pry information out of them. If you have questions, or wish to express your interest in the property, then best to do it in a calm and orderly manner. The agent will appreciate this, as they often are trying to have several conversations at once and this can be very difficult for them to manage. You may need to wait your turn to speak to them but once again, this should be no cause for panic.
You should also be mindful not to antagonize or be rude to the agent – Some buyer’s strangely think this is a good tactic in a property negotiation but it can backfire spectacularly. Simply put – If you are rude to them, then they probably aren’t going to be interested in dealing with you, which isn’t going to help you secure the property. Instead, just be polite, calm and respectful – You are much more likely to get the response you want.
Lastly – Don’t loudly criticise or point out faults with the property – Once again, this sort of behaviour is rude, obnoxious, and is not likely to gain you any positive attention from the agent. If you notice that the property has defects or faults, then by all means make a note of this for yourself, but there is no need to loudly announce it or point it out to others.
‘Til next time, ciao 😊