The (near) complete guide to open house etiquette for buyers

Yes, walking around in someone’s home and judging whether it’s right for you is a surreal experience and knowing the etiquette can not only make it easier but, more importantly, a better experience for you —  not to mention making yourself stand out as a serious buyer. With those goals in mind, here are some not-quite common sense things to keep in mind before ringing that doorbell. 

Go in with a plan 

Before you venture out for the day, consider what questions you have about the specific property that haven’t been answered by the listing or your own research. Also, think about what amenities and issues are important to you personally and for your sake, write them down. It wouldn’t hurt to mentally prioritize them too; you may not get as much one-on-one time with the seller’s agent as you anticipate so brevity is key. Furthermore, you want to seem serious and inquisitive but never intrusive. Show them respect and it will no doubt be reciprocated.

Respect the sellers — and the space

First things first: arrive on time. This not only shows respect for the listing agent but also gives you a chance to view the property without feeling rushed. If you’re running late or need to reschedule, communicate this to the listing agent in advance. Also, comply with all requests (such as wearing booties or avoiding certain areas). Hopefully, by the time you’re done, the sellers will be left with a good impression. 

Dress comfortably (but appropriately)

You don’t need to wear a three-piece suit or the scratchy blouse you only bust out for job interviews. Just avoid showing up in overly casual or sloppy outfits. Dressing appropriately conveys your seriousness as a buyer. Also, please, for everyone’s sake, wear comfortable shoes. Open house days can be long (and so can the walks between them). You don’t want to be distracted by pinched toes when you’re focusing on this huge decision. 

Document for your sake but always ask first, for theirs

This policy applies to photos, checklists, and the home itself. Yes, photos are almost always fine but you should always confirm it’s OK to take them before you start snapping (especially in private areas or where family photos or memorabilia are on display). So long as you’re discreet and respectful (and go easy on the flash photography or audible clicking noise of a phone camera), things should go smoothly.

Pare down your entourage

Have you ever seen those episodes of Say Yes to the Dress when the bride brings everyone she’s ever known to a five-hour bridal dress appointment? Yeah, don’t be that person. NYC homes err on the small side so do your best to not add to the congestion. 

Be curious but never criticize

Who wants to hear that the countertop color scheme that they love is ugly to you? That’s right, no one. Keep the commentary close to the vest until you’re well out of earshot to ensure you don’t leave a bad impression. 

Also, if you have a tendency to overshare, this is a good time to break that habit

This is definitely not the time to go into your life story in any great detail. Keep things polite, positive, and breezy, so you’re respecting the brokers’ time and that of the other attendees. And let’s be real, you don’t want to give away any of your game plan

Be quiet

We’re not telling you to shut up. Well, we are but we mean this strategically. Sometimes you can get the best info by eavesdropping on what other attendees are saying. You never know what kind of valuable info you might pick up on that it wouldn’t have occurred to you to ask about.

Be careful!

Finally, despite the surge in virtual staging, plenty of homes for sale still incorporate good old-fashioned stagecraft so before you plop down on that couch in the “office that could double as a nursery,” make sure it’s not cardboard with a slipcover over it. 

Share Page

Download our Buying Into Brooklyn E-Book!