Sarasota Realtors Robert and Valerie Orr
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Open House Etiquette Rules For Buyers And Sellers

Buying or selling a home means that you'll go to or host open houses. These events are, of course, meant to showcase the best aspects of a home, attract qualified buyers, and help to generate interest among buyers and real estate professionals. Though relatively few open houses bring an immediate purchase offer, they are necessary parts of the marketing strategy. That's because potential buyers will interact with other potential buyers and such an environment can create a sense of urgency.

Some real estate firms hold open houses practically every week for their seller clients, others place emphasis on certain days and times. Regardless of their preferences, if you are in the market to buy a home or are putting your house on the market for sale, you should be familiar with the etiquette rules of open houses.

Open House Rules for Sellers

If you are getting ready to sell your property, you want to make a big impression. That means a lot more than just keeping your home clean and tidy. Because nearly every single home search starts on the internet, that's where you'll start as well. Images are worth thousands of words, or dollars, in this case. Put yourself in a buyer's shoes and highlight the most attractive features of your home. Depersonalize each and every room, empty all closet and cabinets to about 30 percent full, and fix anything that's broken.
Call it Operation Open House. You're throwing open the doors to sell your home. Now how do you make sure the right people show up? You already know the basics: The house is clean and well-maintained. You've cleared the counters and ditched the clutter. And you might have employed a bit of staging to set the mood. But when it comes to making the event a success (read: pulling in the serious buyers), it pays to know a few tricks of the real estate trade.

Be sure to give some attention to the exterior, pumping-up the curb appeal is a must. It's a good idea to pressure wash the exterior and add some color to your landscaping. These things will help to sell your home quicker and for a better price. Though all these preparatory steps are important, their power of persuasion can be undone if you don't follow open house etiquette for sellers:

  • Let your listing agent host the open houses. It's best to remove yourself from the home during open houses and let your listing agent do their job unfettered. This will prevent you from from shadowing people as they tour the house.

  • Don't leave pets in the home. Cute and cuddly they may be, but pets are a big no-no when it comes to hosting an open house. Regardless of their disposition, pets will always do more harm than good in marketing a home for sale.

  • Dress nicely if you stay. If you are co-hosting an open house with your listing agent or hosting one on your own, dress nicely, but certainly not formally. Resist the urge to follow people as they walk through the residence.

  • Park your car(s) somewhere other than the driveway. Many sellers make the mistake of leaving the vehicle(s) in the driveway and that's a big mistake.

  • Leave key documents in a conspicuous place. Place the pre-sale home inspection, the appraisal, and the warranty in plain view for buyers to look over.

Remember to stake and staple plenty of signs around your neighborhood, as well as on the busiest streets. Use block lettering and make sure that it's legible.

Open House Etiquette for Buyers

When you take a weekend or day to tour open homes, you should do so not just to look, but to gather useful information. That will help you to make a good decision when you put-in a purchase offer. Before you start touring homes, know the open house rules for buyers:

  • Leave the kids at home. You ought to leave your kids at home so you have the ability to walk through open homes without having to tend to your children. If leaving them home isn't an option, then keep them close to you when you tour different homes.

  • Don't just make small talk. Small talk is nice to break the ice, but that's about it. Politely ask pointed questions, after all, that's why you're in the home in the first place. Ask about the history of the home and any other questions that come to mind.

  • Dress appropriately. Sure, we might be in the Sunshine State and Sarasota has plenty of tropical delight, but this isn't the time for t-shirts, shorts, and sandals.

  • Go prepared. Bring a measuring tape, a notepad and pencil, or use your smartphone to take notes.

In addition to these, what you should never do is try to negotiate a deal on-the-spot. Since you'll be in-the-moment, you're very likely to leave your critical thinking cap off and make an emotional decision.