Visiting an open house gives you a chance to fine-tune your idea of what your dream home looks like and learn the reality behind often-vague online listings. You might even get some free food and drinks out of the deal.
But like all things, visiting an open house is not without its unwritten rules, so it's important to understand the dos and don'ts of open house etiquette. Think of visiting an open house like you're going on a first date — you never know when you'll find "the one," so you'll want to be careful not to blow it.
- Do: Have a Game Plan
To make the best use of your time, research properties you want to see and create a schedule for your day that allows you to visit houses in one area and then move on to the next area. Give yourself enough time to see each home, and don't forget to allow for travel time.
- Don't: Arrive Too Late
Showing up at the last minute is impolite in any situation, but when it comes to visiting an open house, it does more harm to yourself than to anyone else. Try to be one of the first people through the door rather than waiting until the agent is packing up the brochures and turning off the lights.
- Do: Dress for Success
The key to dressing for an open house is to find an outfit that is both comfortable and appropriate. A three-piece suit is an overkill, but tank tops and gym shorts won't do you any favors either. Plus, you're going to be standing and walking a lot, so comfort is a must.
- Don't: Be Too Nosy
Sure, the point of an open house is to explore. But it's important to remember that, for the time being, this is still somebody else's house. If a door is closed, check with the real estate agent before opening it. The homeowner's personal belongings should be considered off-limits as well, so no peeking in medicine cabinets or rummaging through drawers.
- Do: Ask Questions
The real estate agent at the open house is there to provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision, so take advantage of the opportunity by asking any questions you might have about the property. Have any offers been made? How long has the property been on the market? How much are utilities? Are there any assessments or extra fees?
- Don't: Monopolize the Agent
Be careful not to be too demanding of the agent during a busy open house. They have to show a lot of people around and answer everyone's questions. You can always follow up later if you want to know more.
- Do: Be Polite
Manners go a long way. Be polite to the agent, the other visitors, and the homeowners themselves if they happen to be there. Feel free to politely mention flaws you may notice (scuffed carpeting, mold in the bathtub, etc.) but don't make disparaging comments about the house.
- Don't: Reveal Too Much
Keep your conversation focused on the property itself when you're speaking with the real estate agent. Avoid answering questions about your income, when you need to move, or how your home search is going.
- Do: Have Fun
One of the most important things to do when you're visiting open houses is to remember to enjoy it. The opportunity to check out potential candidates for your future house can be very exciting, and it brings you closer to making your dream home a reality.
It's important to remember homes are important to buyers, sellers, and agents, so you should be considerate to all parties involved. That being said, go out and explore some homes for sale, you might just find your dream home!