Open House Etiquette - What do You Do?

Are you one of the many people who are reluctant to enter a home that is advertising an "Open House"? If so, I'm here to tell you to put that reluctance away.  A Realtor's end goal is to get as many potential buyers through the home as possible. 

Oh, you're not a potential buyer you say. Well, let me tell you something, yes you are.  Every person in the USA has the potential to buy a home.  You may never actually buy a home, but in this great country of ours you have the potential to do so if you choose too, but I digress.  This article is supposed to be about 'Open House Etiquette".  I just needed to clarify my use of the phrase, "Everyone is a potential buyer."

Now that you know that you are invited to the Open House without a formal invitation, you enter the home.  
1. Do I knock or just enter.... As long as the "OPEN HOUSE' sign is out, and it's within the time frame of the advertised open house you may simply walk in without knocking.  If you don't know the time frame, which is often the case, you may knock and wait or open the door and announce yourself.  If the door is locked that is an indication that the open house is over, and the Agent is packing things up to leave.  

2. Do I take off my shoes...The agent will either have booties at the door with a little sign or will let you know upon entry.  Another way to figure this out is to look at the feet of the agent if she/he has booties or no shoes on then it is best to ask the agent what you should do, and they will kindly tell you. If there are no booties but they ask you to remove your shoes, it's a good idea to wear socks.  You just never know what bacteria may or may not be lurking on someones floor.

3. Do I wander the home alone...If you are unsure on this aspect, simply ask the agent.  The agent will be happy to answer any questions you may have.  

4.  Do I open the closet...yes you may open closets, however, you may not riffle through the sellers' things.  Simply open the door to determine the size of the closet and its shelving.  Do not under any circumstances open medicine cabinets or sellers' furnishings, such as dresser drawers, unattached hutches, bureaus, desks and such.  Kitchen cabinets can be opened to determine condition and depth but not any mobile island that will not remain with the property.  

5. Do I enter if I have my kids with me.... with most Open Houses you may of course enter with children (it is best to ask the agent, though, if the child is too heavy to be held), it is important that you keep your children with you and keep an eye on them at all times. If they can be held that is best. DO NOT let them touch anything.  DO NOT let them get on the beds or furniture.  If they break something or take something you may be held liable, depending on your state.  

6. May I sit on the furniture...No, the furniture is not for sale and therefore you do not need to check out the durability of the furniture.  There may come a time where you may sit at a dining table with the agent if you have questions but take your lead from the agent.  They will know all the do's and don'ts of the property.  

7.  Can I see inside the garage...If the garage door is open then yes, if it is closed simply ask the agent if you can see inside.  The seller may not want anyone in the garage for various reasons.  Garages often contain chemicals for lawns and sharp objects where an onlooker can obtain injury.  If you are genuinely interested in a home after the Open House, you may ask the agent or your agent (if you have one already) to schedule a private showing, so that you can have a more in depth look at the home. 

8. The agent has treats. Do I partake in the treats...For the love, YESSSSSS, please eat the treats and take a beverage.  The whole reason they are there is for people to enjoy them.  Trust me, as an agent who lays out treats, WE DONT WANT TO TAKE IT HOME after we went through the trouble of bringing it for you.  It makes an agent SUPER HAPPY to see people enjoying their treats.  Trust me, when people turn down treats it is a great disappointment to the agent. TAKE THE TREAT!!!

9.  Where do I put the trash if I take a treat...Ask the agent if a trash can is not visible.  The agent will take the trash from you and dispose of it for you.  It is our job to make your experience a good and comfortable one.  

10. May I use the restroom to relieve myself...No, this is a big No, and a question we get asked often by potential buyers. Under no circumstances should you use the facilities.  It is not permitted. Not even for your children.  Not even in a vacant home. 

11.  Most importantly, whenever previewing a home or at an Open House, it's important that you touch as little as possible, doorknobs, and light switches will most likely be the only thing you may need to touch.  Never touch the sellers' belongings or sit on their furniture unless your agent says it's ok.  If you need to discuss the home with the agent while you are there and need to sit, a dining chair is best. 

Open House Etiquette is mostly common sense, but when in doubt ask the agent.  They will be more than happy to help you through it. No question is a dumb question. 

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