The “open house” signs seem to pop up all over, and whether you’re targeting them systematically or you just came upon one while strolling through your neighbourhood, here’s what you need to know.
Take your shoes off, even if nobody asks you to. Remember that you’re stepping into somebody’s home and that they—or their REALTOR®—have likely spent precious time sweeping, tidying up, even staging the home for this. Show courtesy and remove your shoes. If you’re planning to visit multiple open houses in a day, make sure you wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off.
Don’t ignore the listing agent. Unfortunately, some people go through open houses like they’re a store or a public space. It’s important to remember, however, that each open house is somebody’s home and that the listing agent is there not just to represent it, but to help you, the buyer. Make sure you say hello, introduce yourself and ask any relevant questions about the home.
Don’t ask the listing agent what they think the home will sell for. In Canada, homes are often priced below market value to encourage bidding wars. It’s common for homes to sell far beyond the listing price. If you directly ask the agent hosting the open house what they think the home will sell for, a) they won’t disclose this, or b) they simply may not know. Instead, try asking what comparable homes or condos in the area have sold for.
Look, but don’t snoop. Admittedly, this can be a fine balance. While it’s perfectly fine to peek in closets or pull back the shower curtain, don’t touch personal belongings or test the taps. Some things can be saved for the home inspection, while other things can be discovered while talking to the listing agent.
With a little bit of tact, a good list of questions and a friendly tone, touring an open house can be as informative as it is rewarding, especially if you decide to put in an offer.