Sign inEven though the house is open to the public, you'll still probably have to give the agent your name and contact information to be allowed inside, says Wendy English, sales manager at Century 21 Commonwealth in Medfield, Mass. "We have a responsibility to know who was in the house for the security of the seller's property," she explains.
A tip for homeowners
"I have an open house app on my iPad," Finlan says. "People who are techie want to do it themselves. For the ones that aren't, I'll do it for them. They have to put in their name, email and phone number. That goes into our database, and the app will follow up for me, too."
Do's and don't'sAn open house is "your time to look at the property," says Renee White, a broker associate at Keller Williams Realty East Bay in Walnut Creek, Calif. That means it's fine to walk into all the rooms, open closets or even take a seat and stay a while if you're genuinely interested. It's not okay to snoop. "Sellers are advised to put away valuables and medications. You don't want to be opening their furnishings, wardrobe or drawers. Kitchen cabinets, closets -- it's expected that people will look there," English says. Nor is it OK to let your children smear cookie on the walls or touch toys that belong to the seller's children. That, English warns, "is a definite no-no." If you want to take pictures, you should get permission from the agent first. And don't block a neighbor's driveway when you park your car. A super-busy open house "can get a little annoying for the neighbors," English says. "Those people could be your future neighbors, so you want to be respectful." Sometimes houses that were scheduled to be open aren't, English adds. That happens because some houses sell quickly and the information posted online isn't always current. If you're disappointed about a particular house, that might be a sign you're ready to commit to a Realtor so you'll be able to get the most up-to-date information, she suggests.
What to askA good agent should be knowledgeable about much more than the color of carpeting.
Here are some questions White suggests you should ask at an open house:
- Have the sellers received any offers?
- How well is this home priced?
- What are the comps -- prices of similar homes recently sold in the area?
- What are the schools?
- Are there any disclosures?
- What other for-sale homes should I see besides this one?
- Who do you recommend for a lender?