Open House Etiquette for Buyers


Open houses are becoming increasingly common with more people rushing to buy property. You probably prefer to do something else on a Saturday, but open houses are necessary in this market and it is an excellent way to edge out your competition and explore outside listing data you see online or in ads.

Before you enter a prospective property, remember the following etiquette:

  1. Just like when you attend house parties, you mustn’t park in the driveway.
  2. You don’t need to knock or ring the bill if you saw the property listed online or in the paper, or you see a sign posted out front. However, wipe your shoes on the doormat, particularly if it’s raining.
  3. Don’t feel bad attending even if you’re just there to look around. The purpose of open houses is not just for prospective buyers, it is also a way to spread the word that the house is for sale.
  4. If you’ve hired an agent, don’t be afraid to inform the hosting agent so he or she doesn’t attempt to solicit you. These open houses are used by agents as a chance to network.
  5. Give other prospective buyers the chance to talk to the agent. If they are occupied with other buyers, get one of the brochures of the property and go on a house tour on your own.
  6. If you have uncharitable feelings towards the agent, set them aside and build a rapport with the agent. You may gain an advantage over other buyers.  It is also good for you to arrive at the open house on time.
  7. Don’t take photos or videos without permission. It is a sign of respect for the privacy of another person’s home.
  8. You also need to ask permission before using the bathroom.
  9.  It can get crowded in open houses. If you see a group inspecting a room you want to look at, wait for them to exit before you go in.
  10. Don’t snoop. It is common for sellers to leave their house to make prospective buyers comfortable in asking pointed questions. So, this means it is wrong for you to snoop in the fridge, drawers and other personal items of the seller. If you see a closed door that you want to see, ask permission from the agent first.
  11. It is okay for you to ask the agent blunt, direct questions, but don’t do it in the presence of the seller. Sellers don’t want to hear negative things about their home, but the agent may thank you for the feedback.
  12. Inspect the property for anything that is broken or squeaks. You can also bring a tape measure, if you need to.
  13. Don’t make yourself comfortable on the bed, couch or bean bag. You can take a seat elsewhere.
  14. The saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all” is true for open houses. Nobody wants to hear that you consider the asking price too high and other complaints. You may be overheard by the seller, a neighbour or a friend. If you are disappointed with the property, save the discussion after you have left the property or during a phone call with the agent.
  15. Leave your name and contact information with the agent. It’s courtesy to let the stranger who has permitted you to inspect their home know who you are. Leave a note if you do not want to receive a follow up call from the agent. Don’t forget to say “thank you” to the agent before you leave.


Enjoy your house hunting!