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Open house etiquette for buyers, sellers, and agents

Be nice!
Photo by Taylor Sublett

How many of you have been to a Sunday open home in your neighborhood? How many of you have been to a Sunday open home in the neighborhood you’re looking to buy in? How many of you have sold a home at one point and had Sunday open houses? If your answer is yes to any of these, please read on.

There’s a “proper” behavior we all need to exhibit when entering into another person’s home. There is a certain courtesy we expect from people visiting our homes. So why is it that a number of people seem to lose all propriety when going to a Sunday open house?

I list houses to sell and help buyers purchase houses for my job. I do a lot of open houses and show buyers a lot of houses. I am sitting at an open house as I write this.

This is homespun common sense, no pulling punches.

Here are my top tips for buyers, sellers, and agents when attending or hosting an open house:


Try not to be too mean:

If you can’t say something nice, wait until you’re back in the car. If the house smells of cat, has dust bunnies, isn't updated, is a little dark, has closets filled with clothes or isn't landscaped the way you would do it put the comments behind your ear to discuss when you get back into your car.

All the rest of the players can hear you and it’s annoying for everyone involved. Keep the bon mots to yourself because karma is a drag. Remember you are being invited into someone’s home. You may not like it, but the person that lives there most likely does.

Be nice to everyone especially the agent:

You never know who is going to be at an open house besides the agent and other buyers. Sellers that do not attend their open houses often have neighbors spy and report back to them about how the open house is going. One overheard comment can torpedo your chances of having an offer accepted in competition.

Be nice to the agent:

We may be the deciding factor whether you get the house or not. Say you and another couple have the exact same offer. The people who were nice are going to get chosen over the people who were difficult and terrible. Agents are keenly aware of those who seem easier to work with versus those that seem like trouble.


If you happen to be living in your house through the marketing period, keep it clean:

You are going to be having “guests” in your home for a couple of weeks. Your house should be as clean as if your mother-in-law or some hyper-judgmental friend were coming over. No one can judge perfection. Be your own harshest critic.

Do not attend your own open houses:

If you want to avoid hearing criticism do not attend your own open homes. Hurt feelings and bad times will be ensured. Invariably a buyer who did not read this article will show up and negatively comment on something you love.


Host the open house:

This is our job. We need to acknowledge we have guests coming over and these are important guests. They are going to buy this lovely place we have for sale or better yet ask us to sell their lovely place in the neighborhood.

Act accordingly. Be engaged. Be interested. Be friendly. Answer questions to the best of your ability. Most importantly, be a nice and gracious host to everyone including buyers represented by other agents. Make sure to have enough marketing materials on hand.

Thinking about buying or selling a house? Want expert advice from an experienced agent? Email me at

Let’s connect through my Facebook page, my website or follow me on Twitter @americafoy

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