What’s the Proper Open House Etiquette?

Whether you are selling your home or in the market to buy a house, the open house will be part of the process. What many sellers and buyers do not know is what later hurts them. It could be a buyer tipping his or her hand or a seller that lets something get past their checklist.

Regardless if you’re selling or buying a property, there are rules of etiquette and they are quite important. It’s people who don’t take the time to learn the do’s and don’ts that most often sabotage their own efforts and once the damage is done, it can be too large to undo.

Open House Etiquette for Home Sellers

Should you be selling your property, you probably are quite aware that potential buyers aren’t interested in buying your house, they are interested in buying their home. Depersonalizing all the rooms and arranging furniture for maximum flow, in addition to letting the light shine in are key elements, as is fixing whatever is broken.

“Because not all real estate agents host open houses in the same manner, you can’t always be certain who will answer the door. Could be the listing agent, a neighbor, a buyer’s agent or even the seller. One thing is for certain. You do not need to ring the doorbell or knock, unless there is a sign posted instructing you to do so.” —About.com

Unfortunately, too many sellers stop at the aesthetics, like landscaping and decor, but forget about function. They also forget they are always marketing their home for sale, no matter what time of day, that is, until they hold an open house. Sellers should heed these rules of etiquette:

  • Let the listing agent host the open houses. It will keep you from hovering over people touring your property and from saying something that delivers a negative connotation.
  • When you leave, take your pets, all your pets, with you. Dogs, cats, birds, and other domestic pets do more harm than their cuteness can overcome.
  • If you do stay, dress nicely. We’re not talking about formal attire, but you should be presentable and fade into the background.
  • Move your car out of the driveway to make room for people coming to view your home.
  • Leave key documents in plain sight, such items as an appraisal, home inspection, warranty, and like documents.

Remember to stake plenty of signs around the neighborhood and the nearest busiest streets with easy to read address lettering or writing.

Open House Etiquette for Home Buyers

When you take a day to tour open houses, you ought to be productive and really learn something so you ultimately make a good decision. Here are the rules of etiquette for buyers:

  • Leave the kids at home. The notion that your children will be so engrossed with the moment isn’t at parity with the reality. If you have no choice and must take the kids, keep them with you every step of the away.
  • Don’t let the small talk be the only talk. Sure, you can pay compliments and have a bit of chit-chat, but don’t let that be the only conversation. Ask pointed questions and do it politely.
  • Dress appropriately. It might be the Sunshine State and Orlando is awash in tee shirts, shorts, and sandals, but that’s not the appropriate attire when you’re touring open houses.
  • Be prepared before you go. Bring a small tape measure, a notepad or tablet, and a camera or use your smartphone to take photos. Before you snap any pictures, be sure to ask the host if it’s okay with them.

Last but certainly not least, do not try to negotiate a deal on-the-spot. You’ll be “in the moment” emotionally and that can only lead to trouble, maybe even a big dose of buyer’s remorse.