When buying a home, there may be no single event as important as the open house. Attending an open house gives you the opportunity to see, feel, and experience the home for yourself, far beyond what’s possible from looking at photos, taking digital tours, or driving by on a sunny afternoon. The open house is when you really get to find out whether you can see yourself living in the home or not.
But if you want to get the most from an open house, there are some things to keep in mind (and some costly mistakes you’ll want to avoid). Not only is it possible to cost yourself money at an open house, but in some (rare) instances, a seller might not even entertain an offer based on somebody’s behavior at the open house.
So if you want things to go smoothly, and want the best opportunity to buy your dream house, here are nine things you should never do at an open house:
1. Keep your shoes on when you’ve been asked to take them off
No one likes to walk around without shoes on, especially in somebody else’s home. But as an open house guest, you need to respect the seller’s instructions. If you refuse, you might be asked to leave, and blow your chance at landing an accepted offer.
2. Let your children roam around unattended
Parenting is difficult, and bringing your kids along with you to an open house is understandable—after all, they’ll be living there too. But when touring an open house, make sure to keep an eye on your children, because, as we all know, they tend to get into things, and a packed home is full of all sorts of interesting items. A good rule of thumb is to just pretend that you’re at a museum.
3. Loudly make negative comments about the house
We all have opinions, especially when it comes to a house that we’re considering paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for. But keep your negative opinions between you, your partner, and your agent, because if the seller’s agent overhears you, they might not only feel insulted, they’re likely to relay the comments to the seller, who might not take them too kindly if you put in an offer.
4. Pry into the seller’s personal belongings
Being allowed into someone’s home for an open house does not give you carte blanche to go through their personal stuff, no matter how intriguing it might be. Opening dresser drawers, touching clothing, pulling back bedding, and rifling through bookcases is a no-no, and violators are likely to be asked to leave. You’re there to see a property, not personal property.
Unless you’re a trained spy, you probably don’t think too much about tempering your speech when chatting with strangers. But an open house is an exception, and you might want to consider what you’re revealing during conversations with (and around) seller’s agents. Even though talking about how much you’re pre-approved for, where your kids go to school, how desperately you need a new home, or that your lease is ending soon might seem harmless, it can put you in a poor position when you begin negotiations, so act accordingly.
6. Make an offer
Even if you absolutely love the house and would be willing to give up a kidney for the chance to live there, you don’t want to make an offer during the open house. Not only would this be out of the norm, but it would also reveal your eagerness and put you in a position of weakness during negotiations. So even if you’re absolutely obsessed, take a deep breath, step outside, and regroup with your agent and your loved ones before making a decision.
7. Spend too little time there (if you’re interested)
There’s no need to spend hours at an open house, but if you walk in and walk right out, you might be doing yourself a disservice. To be sure, sometimes you know that it’s not a fit right away, but if you do like it, there’s nothing wrong with spending some time looking around and taking in the details. At the very least, it might help you remember the little things that you’ll be thinking about once you start planning to move in.
8. Lie about your intentions
Some people like to play games, but there’s really no upside to being disingenuous about your intentions during an open house (or after). Whether you’re just there to look, or are truly serious about making an offer, don’t present yourself otherwise. Not only is it bad form, but word can travel a lot quicker than you might think, and the next time you want to be taken seriously, you might not be.
9. Show too much enthusiasm
When we love a property, it can be difficult to contain our excitement, especially if we’re not used to playing our cards close to the chest. The open house, however, is one occasion when you’ll want to put on your poker face and play it cool. If you show too much enthusiasm, the seller’s agent (and therefore the seller) will know that you’ll do just about anything to get the house—and that’s not the position you want to be in.