Open House Tips and Etiquette for Buyers

With spring well on its way, the weather impresses each day with the joys of living in Corona del Mar, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach and Dana Point. And with mortgage lenders easing on loan qualifications for all price points, maybe you’re thinking of buying a home … where do you begin? Potential buyers new to the real estate market may not know exactly what they want in a home, or where they want to live. The dream homes in magazines are a great way to get ideas, and looking at pictures of homes online can narrow down some likes and dislikes. However, to get the feel of the right home for you and your family, and a sense of what is important for your new home, plan to take advantage of open house events.

Here are some tips for making the most of your open house visits.

DO dress comfortably. You may be climbing stairs, or walking from home to home in a single neighborhood, so wear clothing appropriate for both in and out-of-doors.

DO allow plenty of time to explore each home you visit. If you like the home, take time to look around the neighborhood too.

DO bring your list of likes, dislikes and must-have’s. Make sure to add to your list new ideas you see in an open house. These will help your real estate agent find the right home for you.

DO sign in. However, if you already have a real estate agent, or plan to use a specific agent, be sure to inform the host. Remember, this is how an agent makes his living. You don’t want your home-buying experience marred by conflict between agents each having a claim on your purchase. A trusting relationship with your agent is a valuable asset for you in finding and buying your next home, and your agent is worth his or her commission from the home Seller. In fact, to avoid awkward conversation with the Open House host, why not sign an Exclusive Buyer Broker Agreement with your agent. Then everyone knows where they stand and you can easily answer any questions about your situation.

DO make a list of questions for your real estate agent to ask the selling agent.

DON’T bring very young children who may distract you or get into mischief in someone’s home. Most often, the open house is still the homeowners’ home and contains their belongings, which might be an unintended temptation for small hands.

DON’T expect an open house to be childproofed.

DON’T bring pets to an open house.

DON’T look in cupboards, closets or drawers that the host indicates are off-limits. Your agent can arrange for a more in-depth viewing at another time.

DON’T be deceived by air fresheners and other masking odors. Each of us responds to different odors subconsciously. If you sense an overabundance of deodorizers, the source simply may be a recently removed litter box, or it could indicate a deeper problem. Make a note to look for the source on a private visit to the house with your real estate agent.

DO ask permission before pulling out your camera phone. Respect the seller’s privacy.

DON’T ask questions about what type of offer the owner will entertain or pry for personal information about the Seller’s situation or motive for selling. The selling agent represents the interest of the seller, not the potential buyer. Write down your questions and follow up with your own real estate agent as soon as possible.

DON’T arrange a follow-up visit with the host unless she is your agent. Let your own agent arrange for a return viewing.

DO collect the host agent’s business card and contact information to pass on to your agent.

With year’s experience both hosting and bringing clients to open houses, these are just a few Open House Tips and Etiquette for Buyers. Of course, common courtesy and respect for the home owner and their listing agent will add to a pleasant open house visit and, in the event of making an offer, will set the tone for a successful negotiation and purchase of your home.

If you want to make an offer on the home, DO call your agent as soon as possible.

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