Attending an open house can be an educational and exciting part of house hunting. If you're planning to attend one, here's a short guide to the etiquette of being part of an open house.
Be Polite. From the time you arrive, try to practice good manners. Make sure that the open house is going on before you barge into the home. There should be clear indications, such as an open door or greetings by a real estate agent or homeowner. Smile and greet the people there. Thank them for their time. Wait for other groups to leave a room before entering it.
Research But Respect Boundaries. Think about how you would want people to treat your home if your positions were reversed. The homeowners are inviting you to look around the home and even do things like measure spaces. But it's not the time to snoop through personal effects, medicine cabinets, or movie collections. Stay focused on the important part—the home's soundness and appeal to you.
Be Honest With the Agent. The owners will probably be gone while their real estate agent shows their home, so you can generally speak your mind about the home. In fact, the agent may want your feedback about the condition of the house and what draws you in or turns you off. But don't criticize the home in front of the owners or their neighbors. You don't want to make a bad impression and potentially damage your chances of purchasing the home.
Let Them Know You Were Here. Homeowners want to know that their open house was well-attended and worth their time. So if they were not there during the showing, sign a guest book or sheet if it's available. You can request no follow up calls from their agent if you want, but making yourself known will help the agent and owner gauge interest and make future decisions.
Ask Questions. The open house agent is there to help you learn if this is the right place for you, so feel free to ask some gently probing questions. This may be a good time to inquire about schools, transportation, and the neighborhood. You can also ask about fees and commissions involved. If there are other groups or neighbors, you may want to ask their opinions about the home or the area. You may learn some important things even if they are the competition.
Approach each open house with the right frame of mind and use it to learn as much as you can about the homes involved. This will help you speed up your home search and feel confident when you find the right house.