Some real estate agents have seen everything at Open House inspection days. Everything from people turning up with pets, people eating ice-creams and fast food, people with unmentionables stuck on the bottom of their shoes – the list goes on.
Truth is; most home owners are not very comfortable with strangers wandering through their homes, but most accept it as a “necessary evil” if they are to get their home sold. Well all consider our home our own personal space, so having strangers traipsing through our living areas, bedrooms and bathrooms, opening cupboards and closets is somewhat an invasion of our privacy.
That’s why it is really important to follow the proper etiquette when visiting Open Houses. It is important to respect other peoples privacy and property – after all, they still own the home. It is also important to show some respect and courtesy to the agent, as he or she is only doing their job as a salesperson and security guard. I say security guard, because thieves are known to attend Open Houses to steal items and/or inspect security arrangements in preparation for a later burglary.
With all that in mind, here are 7 tips for visiting Open House inspection days:
1. Arrive on time. Most agents hold several Open Houses on the same day. They not only need to find a car park, unlock the home, sometimes have a quick chat with the parting vendor, put up signs/flags, open any doors/windows, put out their marketing materials, be ready to talk with visitors and genuine potential buyers, collect names and details, then lock up the home, and arrive at the next open for inspection on time. It can be a race against the clock, they need to be attentive, yet often put up with rude visitors who consider it a game to annoy agents. It is important to remember the agent is just doing his or her job, and is often working long hours to earn a living. So, the first bit of etiquette is to show some respect for the agent and arrive on time.
2. Remove footwear. It is common courtesy to remove shoes when entering someone else’s home. Even if the home is not that flash, removing shoes is still a sign of respect. The home owner will usually have spent considerable time cleaning and preparing their home for presentation.
3. Supervise children. A busy agent often has genuine buyers to talk to and can’t be expected to babysit children and protect the home owners property from damage.
4. Don’t pry into personal belongings. As children many of us were taught to keep our hands behind our backs when visiting shops. Visiting Open Houses is a bit like that. Touching ornaments, discussing family photos, going through cupboards or clothing is considered unacceptable. However, genuine buyers would be expected to test the water pressure of a shower nozzle and pace out room sizes etc. If unsure, ask the agent.
5. Speak quietly and be careful what you say. The home owner or their friends/family/neighbors might be present, or a genuine buyer might be standing alongside. They won’t want to hear a stranger’s critique – good or bad.
6. Leave your contact details. It is normal courtesy to leave a name and contact details at an Open House inspection. If you decide you are not interested you could quietly tell the agent the property is not what you are looking for.
7. Keep the driveway clear. Home owners will want the entrance to their home to appear spacious and uncluttered. Genuine buyers will want to inspect the driveway for cracks and weeds, so keep the driveway clear and park your car up the street.
In summary; the agent is just doing his or her job (so be polite and respect their time pressures), and show respect for anything that doesn’t belong to you. It might sound a little old-fashioned, but taking personal responsibility and showing respect for others (and their property) is really not a lot to ask.