Open house etiquette

The market for buyers is a competitive one, especially when it comes to single-family homes in, or around, Springfield. But that doesn’t mean you should walk into every open house with a list of demands; this is someone’s home, after all, says our expert Realtor Deb Sarsany of the Deb Sarsany Team at The Real Estate Group. She has etiquette advice for home buyers when it comes to viewing open houses. 

Before entering the home knock if the ‘open house’ sign isn’t up yet and don’t forget to wipe your feet on the doormat, especially if it has been raining.

If a sales rep or agent does not greet you, call out to let him or her know you are present. Even if you fear dealing with Realtors, don’t give the agent hosting the cold shoulder. Be kind, smile, and greet them. Sign in if asked. If you come across a ‘pushy’ agent tell them that you already have a realtor.

Always ask before taking photos or videos. In many cases, the home is still someone’s private residence so before you snap a photo or record a video on your iPhone, always ask permission. If the agent asks you to not take photos or video respect the seller’s privacy.

Sure, check out whether there’s enough space and storage in the home, but don’t rummage through the seller's belongings. Stay away from their medicine cabinet and don’t open any drawers. If you come across a door that is closed, you should check with the Realtor before opening it and walking in. There may be a reason why the door is closed. Always ask permission before using the bathroom. It’s a private home, after all.

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Keep criticism to yourself until you’ve left the property. Again, the seller still calls this place home; so don’t badmouth it during your tour. Who knows who may be listening? The seller or a neighbor may even be present. If you end up in a multiple offer situation where the price and terms are similar, you won’t want the seller choosing the other buyer because he or she overhead you criticizing their home.

Ask questions, sure, but be polite. There’s nothing lost when asking the Realtor at the open house about the seller’s motivation and if there are any other offers on the table. While you have the full attention of the agent ask about the neighborhood, schools, parks, and amenities – this will be especially helpful if you are new to the area or moving from another part of town. Don’t take up too much of the Realtor’s time – other buyers might want to ask questions too. It’s worth noting that on some occasions the open house agent is filling in for the listing Realtor and may not know a lot about the property, the neighborhood, schools etc., which can be frustrating, but remain calm and ask where you can get that information.

All in all, treat the home as if it were yours already. Be respectful of the homeowner, the Realtor, and other buyers attending the open house, and you’ll make an excellent first impression, which could come in handy should the seller ask the agent for his or her impressions of the bidders.
For more information about the Deb Sarsany Team at The Real Estate Group visit: or call (217) 313-0580.