Open House Tips For Buyers

August 1, 2023

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With this crazy market we have been having in 2023, it’s completely understandable that buyers want to be thorough before making a decision. Taking a second look at the weekend open house allows them to gather more information and make an informed choice.


An open house is basically an opportunity for anyone to come and check out a house that’s up for sale. It’s usually held on weekends or sometimes in the evening, for a few hours. You can go as a potential buyer or just out of curiosity if you’re a neighbor. The person hosting the open house could be the listing agent, someone from their team, or even the homeowner. It’s a great way to get a good look at the house and see if it’s a good fit for you!


With so many buyers giving up on their home inspection contingency in this market, the open house also presents a great opportunity for you to do your own mini inspection to see if there are any red flags on the house!  So as you walk through the house, look for these things:

  • Take a look for any damage or neglect – look at the baseboards to see any signs of staining or warping.  Are there stains on the ceiling (which could indicate a roof leak)?  If there is a basement, do you see signs of mold or mildew?  Are there musty smells in the house, which could indicate mold?
  • Look under the kitchen and bathroom cabinets to see if there is water staining or even black spots, which could indicate mold!
  • Look at the windows – do you see signs of condensation, which could indicate that the windows are no longer functioning properly.
  • Look for cracks on the walls and ceilings, and open and close doors and windows – if they stick or are hard to open it may be due to structural issues, which you would want to check out if you make an offer on the house!
  • Feel around windows and outlets – do you feel any drafts!
  • Check out the neighborhood – when you are buying a house, you are also buying the neighborhood!
  • Check out the storage space – are the closets big enough? Do you have additional storage spaces in the house?
  • Check out the privacy – if you look out the windows, how close are the other houses – are you comfortable with that?
  • Are there any red flags – for instance, are there a lot of fragrant candles burning throughout the house?  Are there a lot of homes for sale in the neighborhood? If there are any recent renovations, did the sellers cut any corners? Do you see any unfinished construction in the house?


The open house is a great time to get information on the house.  The listing agent or someone on their team, or even the homeowner, is at the house so hopefully they will have those answers for you – or if they don’t, they will be able to get the answers for you.  Here are some great questions to ask:

  • Are there any problems present in the house that you know of?
  • Have there been any price changes?
  • How long has the house been on the market?
  • Has the seller received any offers on the house?
  • What is the neighborhood like?
  • Why are the owners selling?
  • What was the house built?
  • Have there been any updates or renovations done, and when were they done?
  • If there have been updates done, did the seller get the proper permits for that work?
  • Do you have the average cost of the utilities?
  • What are the local schools and what are they like?

The answers to these questions will give you a lot more insight into the house and why the sellers are moving than what you may find in the online listing information.


Many times the open house may be crowded, especially if the house just came on the market.  And if this is a house you are interested in, you will want to make a good impression on the person holding the house open – after all, if you do make an offer, you want the open house host to have a good memory of your visit to the house!  So here are some of the rules of etiquette that I always advise my buyers to follow:

  • Follow the rules – some sellers are very particular about shoes walking on their carpet and may request that the buyers remove their shoes when they enter the house, or at least put on shoe booties to walk through.  Please follow the rules the seller has.  And, it may be a good idea to wear slip on shoes when visiting the open house!
  • Don’t bring kids & pets – I know that sometimes, it is hard to leave the kids at home.  But if you have pets, please don’t bring them.  You don’t know if the seller is allergic to dog hair that may land on their carpets or how the dog will be around strangers in the house.  If you need to bring the kids, make sure to keep an eye on them and don’t let them run through the house or handle any of the sellers items!
  • Introduce yourself and sign in – I know many buyers don’t like to sign in because they are afraid of getting calls from the host of the open house.  But keep in mind that many sellers want to know how many visitors they had to the open house and what feedback, if any, is there.  If you are working with a Buyer Agent, make sure you add that when you sign in so that the agent holding the open house can follow up with your Buyer Agent!
  • Don’t crowd others at the open house – there will be a lot of people at the open house but you don’t want to crowd them.  Work around the other people at the open house!
  • Mention any problem areas to the agent holding the open house – if you see something, feel free to bring it to the attention of the agent who is holding the house open!  For instance, if you notice that there is a drip in a bathroom sink, let them know.  If there is a funny smell in the house, let the agent know.  It is very much appreciated and can be conveyed to the seller so a minor drip doesn’t become a burst pipe soon!
  • Be polite to the host – there is no reason to be rude to the person holding the house open that day!  And, if this is a house you will ultimately be making an offer on, it helps to make sure that the listing agent will have a good impression of you when they are presenting your offer to the seller!  In this crazy real estate market of multiple offers, every little bit helps when trying to get your offer accepted by the seller!
  • Focus on the property – after all, this is why you are here!  Feel free to take notes on the house so you can remember what you liked and what you didn’t like about the house!  Focusing on the seller’s personal items, such as the kids school art, the seller’s clothes, etc. takes time away from the house – and those things won’t be conveying anyway!
  • Look, but don’t rummage – you certainly want to open up closets and cabinets, but don’t go through the seller’s closets, or the medicine cabinet items, etc.  You want to look at the space that there is in the house, etc.
  • Feel before sitting – this is especially true if the house you are visiting is a vacant house that has been staged.  Many times a bed won’t have a real mattress on it.  Sometimes, the furniture is cardboard furniture with a nice cover on it!  You don’t want to damage the furniture, and, more importantly, you don’t want to get hurt by sitting on a piece of furniture that is not solid!
  • Ask before taking photos or videos – some sellers are very funny about having someone take videos of their house and belongings.  I realize that many times taking a video of the house is a great way to remember the house.  But before taking pictures and shooting a video of the house, ask permission.
  • Ask questions politely – most agents who are holding a house open welcome questions.  But they may not know all the answers.  Again, politeness can go a long way so ask the questions, but don’t be combative, especially if the agent doesn’t know the answer!
  • Listen to the other people in the open house – sometimes by listening to what others are saying about the house – both positive and negative – can give you a lot of information!  We all see homes through our own eyes, but sometimes a second or even third set of eyes, can point out things we didn’t notice in the first place!  And, if the house is one you are interested in, it also helps to let you know if other offers are going to be made!
  • Hold down the criticism of the house until after you leave – many sellers today have ring doorbells and nanny cams in the house.  It is possible that the seller is listening to what is being said about their house even during the open house.  It is one thing to politely point out things to the agent, but it is another thing to just criticize the seller’s taste in furniture or decor style.  Remember, if the seller is listening to the open house conversations, and this is one of the houses you are interested in writing an offer on, if you have very negative comments on their house, the seller may feel insulted and may not consider your offer in the best light!

Going to open houses is a great way to get to know what houses are selling for and what you get for the money.  If you are a buyer, this is a great opportunity to get to know the market.  If you are a neighbor, it is a great way to see just what your neighborhood’s home values are.  And if you are curious, it is also great to see your neighbor’s decor style!  Any way you look at it, open houses are a great way to get to know the area and neighborhood.  But these tips are great to help you get the most out of your open house visit!

If you are thinking of buying a house, or if you are thinking of selling your home, or you just have questions, feel free to contact me and let me know how I can help!