Open House Etiquette

For a first time homebuyer, approaching an open house for the first time can be intimidating. You likely have little wiggle room in your budget and approaching a house with hoards of people (whom you visualize outbidding you) can be overwhelming.

Don’t be overwhelmed. Rest assured that there is a wide range of different interests circulating the room from daydreamers to people thinking about getting in the market to serious buyers. Out of all the serious buyers there, only a small fraction will be interested in the house and an even smaller fraction will be in agreement with the terms. Given this reality, you can walk in with confidence; don’t take yourself or the seller too seriously.

On the flip side, don’t walk in like you own the place. All in all, you want it to be a pleasant experience between you and the seller. If you’re abrasive and demanding, you are less likely to win their sympathies at the negotiating table. At the end the of the day, that’s all that really matters; getting to the negotiating table and getting what you want. Keep your eye on the prize.

Here are some useful tips on open house etiquette:

1. Attire
Business casual is the most appropriate attire for an open house. You don’t want to show up in sweatpants or shorts for obvious reasons. However, if you go too formal, like uncomfortable shoes or a stuffy suit or dress, it won’t be enjoyable. You’re going to be likely visiting a few open houses that afternoon, going up and down a lot of stairs and doing a lot of walking. You don’t want to be uncomfortable and agitated when you’re negotiating.

2. Focus
You may get frustrated from a long string of failed open houses, but don’t let it wear on you. Stay focused on why you’re there. Don’t make too much small talk; it’s waste of time. Your goal is to assess the property and move on. If you spend too much time at each open house, you won’t be able to view as many in the allotted time.

3. Stay Together
If you are there with your spouse and especially the family, stay together, don’t divide and conquer. It’s the agent’s responsibility if anything gets broken or stolen. Proper etiquette is to keep a close eye on your kids and keep together so the agent knows where you are at all times.

4. Respect
Respect the property you are viewing. Although it’s up for sale, it’s still currently somebodies home. If you have children with you keep them at bay, children have a knack for snooping and breaking things. When looking around, try not being invasive. While it’s ok to open a closet to discern the size, it’s not ok to start shuffling through people’s clothes.

5. Photos
It’s become commonplace with the advent of smartphones to take pictures of anything you’re interested in. All the more with open houses, ideally you want to revisit videos and images of things that stuck out to you for review later. Remember number four, however; always ask first before taking pictures or videos. You wouldn’t like strangers taking pictures of your belongings without permission.