Though the world finally seems to be opening up a bit, and the process of buying and selling homes might look a little different than it did pre-coronavirus. It’s probably going to be a while before anyone feels completely comfortable inviting strangers to come in and out of their homes. Thankfully, technology today makes it possible to give potential buyers a better look at a home from a safe distance, eliminating physical showings until they are absolutely necessary.
A video tour won’t always live up to the traditional showing experience, but it can decrease the number of people who aren’t serious about buying at the present time. Everyone is adapting to be respectful, and open house etiquette is adapting too! Here we provide some helpful tips on proper open house etiquette, both in general and in a post-pandemic world.
Easy Open House Etiquette Tips Post-Pandemic
We’ll start with some open-house precautions that many sellers put into place and then move into more general open house etiquette tips meant for buyers.
Open House Precautions
Here are a few precautions for sellers and agents to make an open house run smoothly and safely.
- Leave all the lights on in the house for the entire showing. That way, buyers and agents don’t have to touch light switches. In addition, this saves everyone from having to sanitize these areas.
- Offer booties at the door so that all visitors can cover their shoes and keep the walkways clear and clean.
- Set up cleaning stations in common areas. Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizers throughout the house, and keep soap and paper towels on the counter next to sinks.
- Keep cleaning wipes and disinfectant cleaners handy so that common surfaces can be wiped down between each showing or buyer. Wipe down doorknobs, cabinet handles, faucet handles, and countertops, and any other areas that you believe visitors might have touched.
- Encourage all attendees of an open house to wait to enter a room until other people have left. There should be plenty of areas left to explore in the meantime or consider having staggered visiting so that only one family is in the house at a time.
Do’s & Don’ts For Open House Etiquette
Now that we’ve established precautions let’s get into some basic open house etiquette for potential buyers.
Let The Listing Agent Know If You’re Working With Another Agent
As a buyer, it’s good etiquette to let the agent hosting the open house know if you’re working with someone else. Most realtors will ask you this outright, but it’s a good rule of thumb to have your agent’s business card in hand to pass on to the hosting agent.
Open house etiquette ultimately boils down to respect. Buyers should respect the home and treat it the way they would want their home to be treated. You wouldn’t want people going through your personal items, so keep the seller’s privacy in mind.
Avoid going through medicine cabinets or nightstands or other furniture items that don’t pertain to the house.
It’s important to remember that open houses put the seller in a vulnerable position, so take care when touring the home. Sellers are motivated and want their homes to sell, but their personal possessions should still be respected.
Leave Your Shoes At The Door
We mentioned booties earlier to go over the top of shoes, but it might be good to remove your shoes altogether. It’s a simple courtesy that could go a long way. After all, this could be your potential home, and you want the floors and carpet to be in pristine condition. When in doubt, slip the shoes off at the door.
Don’t Go To The Bathroom
Another tricky situation that comes up in open houses is whether it’s polite to use the bathroom or not. As a rule of thumb, it’s better not to go, but the situation isn’t always so black and white.
It’s hard to set rigid guidelines because sellers don’t want to isolate potential buyers or be insensitive to basic human needs. However, as a buyer, try to go before or after and only ask if it’s a real emergency.
Leave The Inspection Process To The Pros
Though your parents, friends, and random family members have great intentions as they accompany you to the open house, make sure that the role of “home inspector” is left to the professionals.
Though some flaws might be obvious, don’t make any hard and fast decisions until a licensed and insurance inspection company has taken a look. Of course, most buyers mean no disrespect, but there is a checks and balances system in real estate so that a buyer can make a safe and informed decision before buying.
While general snooping around should be avoided, you should definitely check the closets. Open up the doors in the house is entirely acceptable when it comes to open house etiquette.
Sometimes homes have hidden walk-in closets or small closets where you expect a large one. Storage space is an essential factor, so feel free to open those doors to see what’s behind them.
Schedule A Private Showing
It’s important to remember that an open house is different than a private showing. Open houses are to help you add a home to your list of potential buys. Can you envision yourself living there? Do you like the quick walkthrough of the home?
If you can, and you do, then it’s time to schedule a private showing where you can get a closer look at the home and get more information from the agent. A private showing is where you can look a little closer and scrutinize the details, while an open house is to help you get a better sense of what you’re looking for.
Looking For A House in Billings, MT or Surrounding Areas?
If you’re looking for a house in Billings, MT, and are curious about who is still holding open houses, get in touch with us today! All the experts at 41 Realty Group would be happy to help you find your dream home, plus give you the low-down on how the seller feels about holding an open house. We’ll answer your questions, establish your wish list, and give you an idea of how the market is looking right now. So call us today at (406) 969-4141 or contact us online.