Have you been looking to buy a property? Even if you just started a week ago, you probably know how important open houses are to a home search. And, even if you have a buyers’ agent, many times you will likely be on your own at open houses. There are etiquette guidelines for this that your mother probably didn’t teach you. And, if you follow them, you can avoid confusion about how to act at open houses. But, it’s not just a matter or being polite!
Following the guidelines can help you in your search: the seller’s agent may encourage the seller to come to terms with any offer you make because of the good impression you will undoubtedly make on the agent. If you know what to ask and how (see next two future posts), you will be in a better position to take full advantage of the open house to get information about the property and its status. That means that if you are seriously considering buying the property, it will help you position your offer more effectively. And, on the other hand, it may help you to eliminate the property faster than you could otherwise, thereby saving you time and wheel-spinning.
1. CRITICIZING THE HOUSE
DON’T criticize or make fun of the property unless no one can hear you (other than people who came with you). This includes not proclaiming that the house is way overpriced. You are a guest in the home of people who are trying to sell their home. Your negative comments can hurt their chances of selling to other buyers. First, it’s not polite. Second, you don’t want to be escorted out of the open house by the seller’s agent in front of a roomful of people.
2. BRINGING THINGS IN WITH YOU TO AN OPEN HOUSE
DON’T do anything to disrespect the home. Do not assume that it is okay to bring your dog in with you unless you ask first. Don’t walk in eating, drinking, or smoking without permission. Don’t trek mud, slush, rain, ice etc.,across the floor. Actually, your mother probably did teach you all these things. But, you may not realize that they apply to an open house, just as they apply to a social visit.
3. SIGNING IN TO AN OPEN HOUSE
DO sign in if there is a sign-in sheet. First, this is another courtesy to the owner of the home, as well as to the agent holding the open house. If you are working with a buyers’ agent, write the agent’s contact info after your name. It means your agent will likely get early notice about a price change or updated information. If you are agentless, you can fill in your phone number and email address. But, do that if you want to be contacted by the agent when there are updates.
4. DISCLOSING YOUR BUYERS’ AGENT
DO let the open house agent know if you are working with a buyers’ agent, before engaging them in a long chat about things beyond the scope of the property info. Listing agents are, of course, trying to sell the property during the open house. But, they may also want to take the opportunity to find buyers who want to retain them as their buyers’ agent going forward. If you are the type of person who doesn’t like to lead anyone on, then you need to declare yourself “taken” when it comes to having a buyer’s agent.
5. PREPARING FOR OPEN HOUSES
DO read about the property on-line and read the materials provided at the open house. That way you can avoid wasting time asking questions that are already covered in writing, and spend your limited time at the open house finding out unpublished information about the property.
6. ASKING QUESTIONS AT OPEN HOUSES
DO ask questions about anything you need to know in order to eliminate the property from your search OR to be successful in making an offer if you are so inclined. Wondering what questions to ask? In our next couple of posts, we will provide you with a list of suggested questions for condos, and for houses, respectively.
Chris Kostopoulos, who knows all about what questions to ask at open houses, can be reached at 857-829-0282 or Chris@Isellmass.com