Our experience tells us that a large percentage of homebuyers visit open houses.
While many may not end up buying that particular home, it gives them an idea of what homes in their price range offer and then know when they have found their perfect home at another open inspection.
And, that’s the brilliance of this strategy. Even if you don’t plan on buying the homes you tour, it helps you get acquainted with neighbourhoods and what other homes have to offer.
If you’re about to embark on the Great Australian House Hunt, do yourself a favor and commit to attending an open house (or several) but to be prepared before arriving.
Remember you are an important visitor but not a guest of the homeowner.
Open house etiquette
- Be on time and respect the owners and agents time and give yourself enough opportunity to view it thoroughly. If you’ll be late, call the agent and ask if it’s okay to arrive a little late or request to view after they have completed their other opens for the day
- Park on the street or parking bays, though preferably not in the owners’ driveway
- Respect the property. Wipe your feet and if you have muddy shoes, remove them before entering the home. It’s not something the homeowner nor you would appreciate in your own place
- If you have a wet umbrella, leave it outside
- Introduce yourself and let the agent know your details. They’ll be able to keep you up to date with interest in this property or others if it does not suit you. Whilst agents are not security guards they do keep a lookout for potential issues
- Ask Questions but please do not monopolize the agents time as they will also need to assist other visitors. If you have specific questions, consider writing them down or text or email the agent so that they can be fully answered for you. *This will also give you a good idea of how thorough the agent is, especially if you were looking for an agent to list your home for sale
- Ask Permission if you wish to take photos, videos or open anything or to use the bathroom, especially with children. If you do need to use the bathroom, don’t miss the bowl, if necessary clean up and flush afterward
- If you have approval and took photos, do NOT share them or selfies with images of the home online
- Watch your children and keep them well-behaved, it is your responsibility to keep them by your side at all times. If you don’t think your children will behave whilst you’re viewing it, either, don’t bring them or have your partner mind them outside while you view the property alone, then switch
- Do not bring pets inside the home
- Do NOT bring food or snacks, soft drink, nor smoke inside the home! Drink from your own water bottle if necessary and clean up immediately if you spill any. If lollies or anything else is provided take the wrappers with you
- Stay off the furniture and ensure your children do not climb or jump on them. If you have a previous injury or need to rest, please ask to sit first
- Give other visitors room to move and take turns where necessary especially if viewing numbers are large
- Don’t rummage or snoop through people’s personal belongings. Do not open drawers, medicine cupboards or appliances. Buyers have an ‘Invitation to View’ and it is ‘Not a Right for Unfettered Access‘ to someones private property. Everything you need to see right now is in plain view for you. If you are really interested you can book another private viewing and get permission to look further then
- Keep your ideas of the home to yourself. Whether they are positive or negative views, there is no need to exclaim them in earshot of other buyers. It’s good manners and they can make up their own mind
- Schedule a follow-up viewing to check out any concerns or view things again with other people
- Be polite, courteous and Thank the agent when leaving. Be prepared to provide honest and discrete feedback
We never want a home seller to come home to doors left unlocked, rumpled bed covers and personal items out of place. Those aren’t part of etiquette. It’s a violation of privacy that potential buyers need to avoid.
What to bring with you
If you haven’t compiled a home-shopping wish list yet, do it before you attend an open house. Even jotting down some quick notes on what you absolutely must have in your new home will help keep you focused.
- Don’t forget your smartphone or a camera. Photograph the exterior of the home and make note of the address. When you’ve toured a number of homes it will be challenging to recall which home had which features without something to jog your memory.
- Take notes on paper or the brochure if provided or on your digital advice. Write down questions as you go through the home.
- Bring a measuring tape. You may just fall in love with the home but have no idea if the master bedroom will accommodate your over-sized king bed or if the living room wall is of sufficient length for your sectional sofa. Check gaps for fridge or dishwasher sizes and so on.
- If a Floor plan is provided, bear in mind it may not be 100% accurate, so check measurements if sizing is particularly important.
- Depending on your state’s legislation, various Forms are made available. If you are not sure just ask the agent.
- If you like the home, ask for an Offer or Expression of Interest Form or enquire where they can be found online.
- Bring a can or a marble. It doesn’t matter if it’s a can of deodorant or a can of beans, it will be especially important when looking at older homes. If you suspect a slope in the floor, lay the can down on it. If it rolls, there may be foundation or structural problems which need to be further investigated.
- Finally, don’t go to open houses solo. Bring a friend or family member. Two sets of eyes are better than one when shopping for homes.
Someone may be watching
Ah, the age of technology. In major cities, it’s a given that your every move is being captured on CCTV. While it’s not that bad here, at least not yet, surveillance cameras are becoming more common.
And you should expect there to be at least one in any home you tour.
And they aren’t always evident
Even if you can see the camera, you may not have any way of knowing if it captures audio as well as video and it’s the former you need to be cautious of.
A good rule of thumb is to not say anything in an open house or a home tour that you wouldn’t want the seller to hear. Don’t insult the seller’s decorating taste or lack of housekeeping skills.
The open house tour
The person who greets you at the open house is the homeowner’s real estate agent – the ‘listing agent.’
This agent represents the seller and whilst they will certainly assist you they are acting for the vendors.
The seller’s agent may allow you to tour the home by yourself or he or she may want to accompany you.
If it’s the latter, don’t allow the agent to distract you from viewing the features that are important to you and never allow yourself to be rushed, unless of course, the open inspection is about to come to a close.
Ask any and all questions that come up. This is a huge purchase you’re contemplating, so no question is a stupid question.
The skilled agent will likely contact you again to ask for feedback and provide you valuable information to assist you in your ideal home search.
Most of today’s home buyers prefer to preliminary view homes online. Virtual visits, however, are no substitute for the open house experience.
There’s no reason at all that you can’t do both.
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Like most things in life, these are recommendations only. It is not legal advice, it may or may not suit your own circumstances and you may need to make your own additional enquiries.
Regards Eriks & Team Plaza Real Estate
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