If you’re house hunting, then chances are you’ll attend at least one open house. Open houses are a great way to view a property, get a sense of the neighborhood, and learn more about the local market. They are convenient because you don’t have to set an appointment – you can just drop in at your convenience during the open house hours. Be aware, however, that there are some rules when attending open houses. As a buyer, here’s what you should know before you attend your first one.
Have a plan
When you’re going to an open house, you should have a game plan. Since you’re giving up an hour or two of your time, you might as well make the most of it. Plan to check out the neighborhood. See if there are other open houses nearby that you can attend. You can cover a lot of ground in one afternoon.
Be on time
An open house will usually take place during a set period of time – for example, from 1 to 4 pm on a Sunday afternoon. Plan to arrive on the early side, but not before it begins. Give the agent the time they need to prepare, and give yourself enough time to thoroughly evaluate the home. You should also avoid arriving late. If you think you will be late, call the agent and ask if they will stay for you. If not, make arrangements for a private showing on another day.
There will most certainly be a sign-in sheet at the door, and you should sign it. Obviously, this is a way for the agent to contact you after the open house. But it’s also a way to know who is coming and going to keep the home secure during the open house.
Talk to the agent
It is appropriate for you to ask questions of the agent who is hosting the open house. You can find out if any offers have been made and how long the property has been on the market. If the open house is busy, don’t monopolize their time. You can always follow-up with them afterwards. You should also let an agent know if you already have representation. Please do not take photos of the home without asking permission from the agent, this is very important. There are usually plenty of photos online, and most homeowners are not comfortable with people taking photos of their home during an open house.
Keep negative opinions to yourself
Your mother was right – if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. You never know who may be listening, whether it’s a friend of the seller or a neighbor from down the street. If you do decide at a later date to make an offer on the home, it could get back to the seller. If you’re competing with other buyers, your negative comments will reflect poorly on you.
Finally, be efficient when you’re attending an open house. Explore the home, chat with the agent, have a cookie and be off. The open house will give you a taste of what the home is like. If you’re serious about putting in an offer, follow-up to schedule a private showing.