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A Buyer’s Guide:  6 Essential Rules of Open Houses

Sunday was a banner Open House day for Powers Realty Group. We showcased a number of our clients’ homes including two premiere properties on Lake Michigan, and both of these events were exceptionally well attended. In the real estate world, it was a fun Sunday to connect with people (those looking for a new home and those just looking) and introduced two new Powers Realty Group luxury properties to the Milwaukee market.

As I reflected on the day’s events, I realized that even though Open Houses have been an integral part of real estate selling for many, many years, no one is given the rules of the road before they attend these events.  And it’s important to note these aren’t public events.  They are private, held in private homes where people are invited, as guests, to tour the home.  

And what many people may not recognize is there are long-standing, often unwritten (no longer!) rules to follow when you enter someone’s property as a guest during an Open House - whether a small condo or one of Milwaukee’s finest properties.

1. Sign In is Required

This is critical. Why? Safety. The safety of the agent and the seller requires prospective buyers and other visitors to sign in. This requirement will be increasingly enforced as REALTOR® safety becomes a growing nationwide issue. In most cases, people are not being admitted to an Open House if they don’t sign in. However, if for some reason, you do not want to provide your name and contact information, an alternative is to schedule a private showing with the listing broker. 

2. Well Behaved Kids are Welcome!

Your children are welcome to attend the Open House, as it may become their home, too!  However, they should always be in the presence of their parents and never unattended. First and foremost, this is for their safety (they should not jump on the beds or other furniture) and that of the Seller’s personal items (there are very often breakable items in the home). 

3. Leave the Starbucks Outside

Open House guests should not arrive with food and beverages due to the risk for spills and stains to people’s private property. We recently hosted one open house where a buyer entered a client’s home with a Starbucks Venti on and accidentally spilled the coffee all over a cream dining chair.  For everyone’s benefit, come empty-handed to enjoy the home.

4. Introduce Yourself to the Agent

REALTORs® provide a helpful resource at open houses and want to showcase their clients’ homes and the community – and speaking for me and my team, we love to get to know you! You can learn about the local housing market, get the scoop on recent market changes, and even interview prospective agents if you are looking for a local expert to help you buy or sell a home.  Keep in mind, agents will only contact you after the Open House if you express the interest to connect. You might be surprised, but most of the agents hosting open houses are Milwaukee’s top producers and not new agents. They can help you and you can help them by offering feedback after you have toured the home.

5. Do Not Open the Seller’s Drawers (Kitchen Cabinets are Okay, Though!)

Guests are welcome to open closets and kitchen cabinets as they are a big part of what you could potentially be purchasing, however, do not open anything where personal items might be stored such as drawers, medicine cabinets, decorative boxes, etc. These are completely off-limits due to the highly personal nature of what they may contain. 

And keep in mind, you are likely under surveillance. Unfortunately, sometimes we do encounter visitors who are not interested in simply touring the home and due to this, Realtors are extensively trained on REALTOR® safety and theft.  We safeguard ourselves and the seller to the best of our ability and that includes cameras and safety training.

For my clients’ and team’s safety, I believe in extensive surveillance.  If you are one of my sellers and do not have a camera, I am likely installing my own. The cameras keep us all safe and you can see my salesmanship for each showing (my sellers love this!).

6. Pay Attention to Open House Times

Show up to an open house outside during the time the open house is scheduled and be careful not to arrive right before the end of the open house end-time (so you have time to see the entire home).  Open Houses are scheduled at certain times because that is when an agent can be present, and agents may have multiple open house plus appointments, especially on Sundays, as it is our busiest day of the week.  We want to make sure everyone is happy! 

We love hosting Open Houses for our clients and think they are a great way for people to see our clients’ homes, however, they must be handled carefully by everyone.  If there’s one golden rule of open houses, I would say it’s simply behaving like a guest of the home you’re visiting – and expect the hosting agent to treat you like one, as well!

Powers Realty Group is a distinctive boutique real estate broker focused on the needs of customers delivering exceptional results. We are the trusted local experts. Call us today about buying or selling your home.

Call Suzanne Powers