Going to anything for the first time can be intimidating. Going to an open house for first-time home shoppers can be even more intimidating. Why? Because there’s more at stake when shopping for a home than when shopping for a car or refrigerator or anything else one will likely buy in their lifetime…more money, more life needs/wants/style decisions to be made, more everything.

Here are some tips you can offer to your first-time home shoppers:

  1. No appointments are necessary to go to an open house unless the listing agent posts a sign that says “By Appointment Only.”
    1. Shoppers should give themselves approximately 30-mintes to see the property and ask questions.
    2. Shoppers should avoid showing up 5 minutes before the posted end time of the open house. No point in annoying the showing agent or seller who wants to get back into the house.
  2. Home shoppers do not have to have a real estate agent in order to go to an open house however, if the shopper already has an agent, make sure to tell the showing agent the name of the representing agent if/when the showing agent asks.
  3. Make sure to sign the sign-in sheet/book if interested in the home.
    1. The sign-in sheet/book shows the seller how much traffic the open house generated.
    2. However, if the shopper is NOT interested in the home, don’t sign the book.
    3. If the shopper is not interested in that home BUT is interested in others in the neighborhood, sign the book and expect to be solicited by the showing agent.
  4. Do NOT be pressured into signing a contract at an open house on the spot.
  5. If the shopper is coming to the open house with his/her representing agent, let that agent do the talking and allow the shopper to focus on seeing the house.
  6. There is no need to tell the showing/seller’s agent any information about the shopper’s income, budget, current living address, plans for moving, etc.
  7. Shoppers, do your homework and ask questions.
    1. Go online to find out number of days on the market, sales/price history, maintenance fees, property taxes, etc.
    2. When talking with showing/seller’s agent it’s more than fine to ask about why the owner is selling, the reason for pricing changes, building/transaction fees, etc.
  8. Be courteous and respect the seller’s home.
    1. Sellers’ agents often decide whether or not offers are accepted or rejected.
    2. Stay on the best side of everyone involved in the transaction.
    3. It’s okay to open closets to get a sense of space but it’s not okay to sprawl out on a couch.
  9. Take photos and measurements discretely.
    1. Despite there being photos of the house online, shoppers may want to take their own to focus in on specifics such as backsplashes, wall space, furniture arrangements.
    2. Walk off distances rather than taking out retractable measuring tools.
    3. Do NOT tip your hand that you’re serious about the property by overtly taking photos and measurements so as to not jeopardize your negotiating position.
  10. Make sure to take note of the home’s neighborhood.
    1. How far away is the school, the grocery store, public transit, etc.?
    2. Is there excessive noise pollution and/or traffic?
    3. Are the neighboring homes well kept?