Open House Etiquette 101

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.

If you want to learn more open house tips, check out these important details that you don’t want to overlook at an open house. 

4 comments on “Open House Etiquette 101”

  1. BARBARA WIDMANN says:

    !) THE AUTHOR SHOULD TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THE AREA OF THE COUNTRY IN REGARDS TO ATTIRE. IT IS QUITE ACCEPTABLE FOR BUYERS ATTENDING OPEN HOUSES TO WEAR CASUAL CLOTHING AND DROP THE “BUSINESS” PART. THE MORE COMFORTABLE THE BUYER, THE GREATER THE CHANCE THAT AN OFFER MAY HAPPEN…EXCLUDING SWIM ATTIRE. 🙂 5) Personally I FROWN UPON ANYONE TAKING PHOTOS. NOT NECESSARY AND CHANCES ARE THAT ANYONE WITH A CAMERA MOST LIKELY DID NOT HAVE ROOM IN HIS POCKET FOR A CHECKBOOK OR PEN! THE INTERNET PROVIDES THE VISUALS QUITE WELL IN THIS DAY AND AGE. LOVE THE 3d TOURS ONCE I BECAME ADEPT AT USING IT.

    1. Emily Calkins says:

      Personally I do not believe what you wear to an open house should have any bearing whatsoever on the outcome. Common sense applies, of course. I wouldn’t wear pajama bottoms anywhere outside the house, but an increasing number of people think this is appropriate. Clean, yes. Street-suitable, yes. Style? Entirely my own.

  2. Thank you for your recommendation and tips for manners for both prospects and realtors

  3. BARBARA WIDMANN says:

    Thank you Olivia.:)

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