Open House Etiquette & Tips for Guests: Get the Most From Your Visit

Visiting open houses can feel awkward or strange at first. After all, you’re entering a home that belongs to someone else, usually a total stranger, and poking around the property to decide if it’s a home you’ll want to buy.

If you’re planning to attend open houses this spring (such as the Howard Hanna Big Event weekends!) as a home buyer, you may have some questions about what to do while you’re there. Fortunately, getting the most out of attending open houses boils down to a few simple tips – and we’re here to help!

(Is this your first time attending open houses? Read our First-Time Homebuyer’s Guide here!)

What to Expect at an Open House

An open house is an opportunity for people interested in buying a home to view a property. It’s an efficient way for agents to have lots of people see the home at once, and it’s a wonderful, low-pressure opportunity for homebuyers to explore a property.

Typically, the listing agent will be available at an open house to help answer any questions you may have. However, if you’re already working with a buyer’s agent, you will want to take them with you, and have them interact with the listing agent.

If you’re on your own, and “just looking,” it’s okay to explain that to the listing agent. If you’re in the market for a real estate agent of your own, you can also let them know that – they may even be interested in representing you.

You should always sign in at an open house, and follow any rules the agent may request of you, such as taking off your shoes before walking through the home.

9 Tips for Attending Open Houses

When you attend open houses, you’ll want to get the most out of the experience. While you can simply stroll casually through the house, you can also use it as an opportunity to learn a lot more about the property.

Here’s how you can make the most of your experience:

  • Before you head out the door, it helps to know what you want in a home! If you have a list of “must-haves” or even just a few notes on what you’d like, bring it with you!
  • Come ready with questions! You can ask about different features of the home or neighborhood. Here are 15 questions homebuyers should ask.
  • Sign in to the open house – not only is it the polite thing to do, you’ll also get updates on the home.
  • Have a tape measure handy, and know any measurements important to you. For example, if you have an oversized couch, knowing its dimensions will help you see if it will fit in this home.
  • Take pictures to remind yourself of important features! While it’s considered rude to share these online, taking a few pictures for your personal use can help you keep track of the houses you’re visiting.
  • If you’re visiting a few open houses in a single day or weekend, take notes on the homes! That way, you’ll remember which one had the killer staircase and which one had the giant kitchen.
  • Open houses generally won’t allow pets, so don’t bring them! And, while children can be welcome additions to a home tour, younger kids may not get as much out of it – so consider leaving them home so you can view the home distraction-free!
  • Unless you’re told otherwise, you can explore spaces like closets and pantries – this is your chance to check out the storage space in the home.
  • If weather permits, make sure you explore outdoor spaces as well. This can help you get an understanding of the yard, any fencing or gates, the garage, any outdoor storage sheds, patios and porches, etc.

Find Open Houses Near You

House hunting season is the perfect time to explore open houses in your area. In addition to the Howard Hanna Big Event, where nearly every home we have for sale is open to the public, you can also find upcoming open houses on our website or in our newly-relaunched app, Howard Hanna Open Houses Today!

Howard Hanna Open Houses Today helps you search for open houses on the go, or plan a house hunting weekend. Whether you’re looking for a home, condo, or townhouse, we’ll help you find open houses near you.

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