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A Visitors Guide: Open House dos and don’ts

I have held a lot of open houses since I began selling real estate 25 years ago. When I first began my real estate career, most Los Angeles open houses were from 1-5 PM. Four hours was too long and traffic was intermittent. Eventually most open houses were whittled down to 2-4 PM.  I prefer this two hour stint. At most of my open houses, there is a steady stream of home buyers. Constant traffic ensures my safety and that of the homeowner’s belongings. When I am holding my clients’ home open, I am part security guard, docent and sales person. I have a hectic couple of hours. So, let’s take an etiquette lesson and learn about open house dos and don’ts:

So what are the top five things you should never do at an open house?


  1. Allow children to run wild.
    Sadly, I have seen it all, it’s not your home and your children shouldn’t be touching, running, jumping, etc. My clients home may not be kid-proofed, please don’t put me in the position of babysitter, that’s not my job today.
  2. Make rude comments about the sellers’ home, décor, etc.
    My mother taught me if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
  3. Outside food and drinks.
    Please don’t bring food into the seller’s home. And if you or your children are drinking a beverage that can stain the seller’s carpet or furniture, please be careful.
  4. No large pets.
    If it’s too big for you to carry, don’t bring your pet into someone else’s home. I love dogs, the bigger the better, but not all of my clients do, in fact some have allergies.
  5. Don’t try to sell me.
    It’s my party; please don’t try to sell me insurance, loans, etc. Now is not the time to give me a sales pitch. You are more than welcome to drop off a business card and introduce yourself, but that’s all I have time for today.

What are the top five things Realtors love you to do at an open house?


  1. Introduce yourself.
    If you are working with another real estate agent, tell me. That doesn’t mean I won’t answer questions, it is just a simple courtesy. As you are already working with a Realtor this lets me know you are a serious buyer.
  2. Neighbors.
    I appreciate neighbors; they always have something nice to say about the home and neighborhood. Don’t ever be reluctant to drop in.
  3. Ask questions.
    If you are interested in the home or neighborhood, let’s chat. What do you want to know?  Let me know how I can help you.
  4. Courtesy is always appreciated.
    My client has spent a lot of time and effort in preparing their home for sale. I love hearing how nice the home looks.
  5. Respect the seller’s privacy.
    Of course you want to open closets and cupboards and check out the space. Don’t be shy but don’t go overboard (medicine cabinets and dresser drawers are obviously off limits).

Looking forward to seeing you at my next open house.

Related Post: How long should an open house last?


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Very good information, 2 hours is ample time to hold an open house!