open house etiquette

Open House Etiquette for Home Sellers

Proper Open House Etiquette for Home Sellers

The open house or home viewing is one of the most valuable opportunities the home seller will encounter as he tries to get buyers interested in purchasing his property.

This is a chance to impress that you and your agent cannot pass up on – but there are some important points of etiquette that home sellers should take note of.

Leave The House! 

When your home is being put on show to potential buyers, it is the express purpose of this exercise to have buyers envision themselves in this space. There are many ways to do this, including stowing away personal and sentimental items around the house, and creating a neutral atmosphere that speaks to the largest amount of prospective buyers.

However, the very best way to allow buyers to imagine themselves living in your property is by simply not being there during an open house. Your real estate agent will probably advise against you being there anyway, as this gives the agent a chance to draw the attention of buyers to the best features of your property – not to what your favourite features of the property are.

Real estate agents provide a wide array of services to home sellers, but chiefly act as objective bystanders with no sentimentality about your property. The benefits here are twofold: not only does it allow real estate agents to objectively negotiate with buyers, but it also gives people who are interested in purchasing your property the opportunity to freely express their opinion about it – and alerting you (via your real estate agent) about things you may not have thought of before.

Really, you’re also saving yourself discomfort by not being at home when your property is on show to the public – nobody enjoys hearing criticism after spending weeks preparing for this moment.

The impression you create with prospective buyers can have a definite influence on their interest in your property, and becoming defensive or irritating buyers by showing off will do you no favours.

Rather leave it to the professionals to introduce your property to its future owners in a way that exhibits its very best features and qualities.

No Sneaky “Drop-ins” 

If you haven’t paid attention to the paragraphs above, let us say this again: stay out of your home for the duration of the open house. Spoil yourself with an ice-cream at the mall, go and see that friend you’ve been meaning to visit, drop by the local museum, but just make sure you’re not at home when the people who could be the next owners of your house are viewing it.

Home sellers need to trust their real estate agents to create the best impression and find the very best buyers for your property. Your real estate agent would have done a lot of legwork in the run-up to this open house. Have enough respect and trust in them to pull it off without a hitch, and to handle any requests or enquiries in a way that has your best interests at heart.

That means you aren’t allowed to “forget” something at home and just need to “nip in quickly” to get it (while getting a look at the buyers perusing your property)! You do your thing, your agent does their thing, and you return after a text or call confirming that you can do so.

Take Your Pets Out of The House 

It may be hard for pet owners to hear, but some people are very put off by the presence of animals in the property. Again the main purpose of the open house – letting people see themselves in the space – comes into play.

You’ll want to put anything sentimental into storage while the open house is being held, and this includes putting away pet paraphernalia like beds, bowls, balls and litter trays. Make sure that the house and furniture are devoid of fur, as this may not only create the impression of uncleanliness, but could also trigger the allergies of prospective buyers, literally clouding a proper view of your property.

Remember, you don’t want to put off buyers in any way, and while buyers who are pet owners themselves may be thrilled with the expanse of the backyard, it is simply better to let them imagine their own pup running across the lawn, rather than having your dog distract from the garden’s many hidden gems.

Taking Charlie or Luna somewhere else while droves of strange people march around the property will also make the whole experience less stressful for them, too.

Remove Cars From the Driveway

If a prospective buyer has to search for parking the moment they arrive at your parking, they’ll already imagine their friends having to park all the way down the road when visiting them – and that is a first impression you’ll never get a chance to create again.

The driveway and front garden are the first things buyers see when they arrive, and you’ll want to keep these areas unobscured. Make sure that the pavement in front of the garage is clean and free from oil stains or other messes. If you have more than one car, either park it behind a closed garage door or take it somewhere else for the duration of the home viewing.

Try to keep at least one side of the garage open, so that buyers can get an idea of what kind of garage or other parking space you have.

Make Sure Your House Is Prepped and Clean 

It goes without saying that your house should be clean, but you’ll want to go to a little extra trouble to create a good impression with buyers. Try utilising the power of scents, but avoid trying to mask bad odours with colognes or room sprays. Get to the source of any bad smells, and clean and disinfect the entire house, paying particular attention to areas that are associated with hygiene, like the bathroom and kitchen.

When preparing for the open house, put away anything that is cluttering the house. As mentioned before, taking down and putting away personal items and photographs allows prospective buyers to imagine their own families in the space. It may be better to also put away décor pieces that may offend or put off people that are more conservative than you are. Also securely store valuable items.

Leave curtains and blinds open to make the most of natural light, and switch on extra lights in darker rooms. Switch on ceiling fans and air conditioners to keep things cool – a lot of potential buyers means things could be getting a little hotter than usual. Take the phone off the hook and switch off the sprinklers.

The interior of the house should be free of clutter, dust and dirt, but don’t forget to make sure that the garden is also tidy and taken care of. Mow the lawn, trim the rose bushes, pressure-clean the patio, and get any garden rubbish out of sight before the buyers arrive. Creating kerb appeal will immediately impress potential buyers.

Provide Feedback Cards for Instant Feedback 

The best way to immediately get an idea of where there is room for improvement in terms of the home’s staging or general appearance is to leave feedback cards, which visitors fill in just after viewing the property. This way, you aren’t just letting potential buyers reflect on your home in particular before flitting off to view the next property, but it also provides valuable feedback about what the interest in your property is like.

Discuss what questions you’d like to include in the feedback cards, but if you’re stumped, here are some suggestions:

  • What do you think of the price of the property?
  • Tells you whether the asking price is realistic.
  • Repeated valid reasons for the house being priced too high might point to a necessary price revision.
  • How does this property compare to other homes you have recently viewed?
  • Tells you what makes your home stands out from the rest, or where it is lacking.
  • What are the worst features of the property?
  • Tells you which features consistently put off buyers.
  • What are the best features of the property?
  • Tells you which features of your property can be highlighted more.
  • Could you see yourself living here?
  • Gives you an idea of whether the home staging has been done efficiently.
  • What would make you buy this property today?
  • Opens the door for your real estate agent to start negotiating a potential sale.

Send Out “Thanks for Coming” Cards

Thank you cards are probably already a part of your real estate agent’s marketing arsenal, but there are ways in which this last thought can be made even more memorable.

Discuss the possibility of printing cards with pictures of your home, together with information that might be valuable to prospective buyers, like the number of rooms, square footage, the features of the property, and contact details of the agent.

Tailored thank you cards are a nice touch, but also a great way to get stuck in the heads of the people that may just be calling your property “home” soon.


The real estate agent you choose to help you sell your property will be your representative along every step of the selling process, including during the open house. Still haven’t found someone you trust enough to undertake this responsibility? Let Perfect Agent send along a list of recommended agents, based on your specific requirements, today!

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