Home > Features > Market > A buyer’s guide to open house etiquette

A buyer’s guide to open house etiquette

As homebuyers scramble to secure a home in a hot market, Ray White North Adelaide shares open house etiquette to help you stand out for all the right reasons.

An open house allows buyers to determine if a property is right for them and check out the competition yet, Director of Ray White North Adelaide Rachel Lawrie says there’s no room for error when it comes to this method of inspection.

“Open homes are a bit of a privilege at the moment, especially in COVID times and with the market the way that it is,” says Lawrie.

Before you head into an open house, here are some do’s and don’ts to help you navigate the corridors successfully.

Do: Express interest

Buyers often overlook expressing interest in a property in a bid to play games.

Lawrie says while it’s tempting to be coy, not being open and transparent with the agent is a critical error.

“If buyers genuinely want to transact, they need to have open discussions with the agent straight away, so the agent knows their goals,” says Lawrie.

“They don’t need to tell them what they’re willing to pay – but when they express interest, the agent’s then going to stay in contact and keep them updated.

“If they hide their cards too much, especially with the market the way it is at the moment, they are likely to miss out because they haven’t expressed their interest.”

Don’t: Go through personal belongings

When attending an open house, you should be mindful that it’s still someone’s home.

If vendors are still living in the home, Rachel says buyers should keep themselves from rummaging through personal belongings and cabinets that aren’t a fixed feature in the house.

“Try not to go through personal things,” says Rachel.

“You have to be aware that people have invited you into their home and just think about what you would want if your house was open.”

If you’re looking at taking young children, make sure they know not to touch things too.

Do: Ask the right questions

“Buyers should always ask questions that are relevant to the property,” says Rachel.

“If a property hasn’t got a price on it, buyers should ask if they can be pointed towards recent sales in that area so they can best come to a price.”

Rachel says buyers can also ask what the house’s point of difference is.

“Buyers need to understand the characteristics of the home and what makes it worth more than a home down the road,” says Rachael.

“Ask what the owners have spent on it in recent years to make improvements – all the things buyers can’t see they should be asking about.”

Don’t: Openly criticise the home

An open home is a great way to determine if a house is a lemon.

Despite this, if the home isn’t up to your standards, Rachel says it’s best to keep negative comments to yourself.

“If you’ve got something negative to say, maybe have a phone call with the agent later on but definitely don’t say it inside in front of everyone else,” says Rachel.

“People go to a lot of trouble to conduct an open house and you never know people’s circumstances, the reasons why they’re selling or if they’ve had time to prepare the home.”

Do: Take photos (with permission) 

Taking photos to pair with your notes on houses is a great way to enrich your shortlist.

Rachel says buyers need to get the all-clear from the agent to ensure the owners are comfortable having their belongings photographed.

“I think buyers need to be very aware that – especially if people are living at the home – they need to be respectful.”

“Taking photos is a great way to add context to a list of notes but, buyers should make sure to ask before taking extra footage.”

Don’t: Be impatient 

As clichéd as it might be, patience IS a virtue – especially when it comes to open houses.

With COVID restrictions still in place, Rachel says this further limits the number of people that can go through a home at one time – often resulting in a queue of people out the front.

Rachel says buyers need to wait their turn and remember to be respectful of the agents.

“Professional conduct is so important, not only for the agents but for the buyers and I think buyers forget this when they get impatient or think they haven’t had enough time to look at a house,” says Rachel.

If you leave an open house feeling disappointed in the duration of viewing time, reach out to the agent afterward and request a private viewing.