The arrival of Spring brings warmer temperatures, flowers in bloom and often a fresh, new incentive to look for a new home. With you in mind, here are some Do’s and Don’ts on how to maneuver a mannerly “Open House:”
- Do sign the registry. It would be impolite to walk into someone’s home, even a scheduled Open House, and stroll around the property without first identifying yourself to the host or home representative. Take the time to sign in and introduce yourself to the person in charge of the open house.
- Don’t snub the realtor on duty. A curt, “We’re just looking” isn’t the friendliest greeting. Make eye contact, smile and acknowledge the person in charge. It puts everyone at ease when you don’t appear standoffish or put off as you traipse through the property.
- Do carry on your personal phone conversation outside of the showing. It’s inappropriate to make yourself at home at the kitchen table or couch while you chat on your cell phone with your realtor, or take an incoming call while walking through the property. Be respectful of fellow guests and conduct your conversation away from others who are not interested in your discussion.
- Do be respectful of the homeowner’s property. Avoid sitting on the homeowner’s bed, using their bathroom or allowing your children to play on their outdoor swing set. That includes opening the homeowners kitchen cabinet and helping yourself to a cool glass of water. Unless bottled water and cookies are clearly available, don’t assume you can give your son or daughter a glass of water (after a long afternoon of jumping on the homeowner’s trampoline!). If you need something, ask the realtor and allow him or her to assist you.
- Do keep your hands off the pictures. You may be interested in who currently lives in the house, but more than a quick glance is a bit invasive. Asking the realtor personal questions about the buyer such as, “Are they getting a divorce?” or “Where are they in this picture?” is out of line and a little creepy. Admittedly, we all tend to want to know details but “wanting” and “asking” are two different things.
- Don’t look too eager. Even if you think you’ve found the home of your dreams, remain calm. You want to keep the seller motivated to negotiate without feeling like you are a sure deal. There is an entire negotiation “dance” that is still ahead of you and it’s in your best interest to keep your feelings in check until you sign on the dotted line.
- Do leave the home if you are the homeowner. Unless the sale is a “sale by owner”, it’s in everyone’s best interest for you to find something to do while the realtor shows your property. Too often the seller jumps in and wants to take over the tour, which in turn can turn a good tour into a nightmare for both the realtor and their client.
- Don’t critique the property in front of other open house guests. Feel free to share your concerns with your realtor, out of earshot of others that are looking at the same house. You never know the relationship the fellow guests may have with the homeowner and you don’t want to run the risk of offending the seller by making disparaging remarks in front of their good friends and neighbors.
- Don’t assume you can take pictures and videos. Ask your realtor before you start snapping away on your iPhone. While you may be taking pictures to send to your spouse who had to work, or your mom living in another state, keep in mind that you are also taking photos or video of someone else’s private living space. You may love the way they set up the family play area, even though you have no intention of buying the home, but always ask before you take the liberty of photographing someone else’s home.
Happy house hunting,