Confessions of an Open House Agent

If you are a weekend open house warrior and go to several open houses in one day, you may grow tired of the routine at every house – take off your shoes, take a flyer and then get asked the same questions.  As a weekend open house warrior agent, I hope to shed some light on why open house agents do what they do.

First and foremost, you as an open house guest may think the agent is only there to “sell” you but in fact, a lot of what we do is for security purposes.  You are more of a stranger to us because we don’t know who is going to attend the open house, but you at least know the agent who will be there.

Security Issues

1) Why does the agent want me to sign in?  Isn’t the house open to anyone to see?  Yes, this is an open house to the public and an appointment or invitation is not required however most sellers want a record of who came into their home. Some agents use this information to follow up with you after the open house.  Just tell the agent if you don’t want to leave your contact information, but please use your real name.  Seymore Butz and his friend Hugh Jass have visited my open houses numerous times!

2) Why do I have to talk to the agent?  I have had guests who do everything possible to avoid me.  It’s not that I take it personally but that kind of behavior is a red-flag to me.  It tells me that you are not there for the open house but you have other motives.  It makes me concerned for my safety, as well as the security of the home and the seller’s belongings.  If you are so painfully shy that you cannot at least say hello to the agent, then bring a friend that can.

3) Why can’t my kids/dogs run freely through the house?  I don’t mean to be sarcastic on this one but it is amazing to me how parents allow their children to run through someone else’s house unattended, screaming, playing with the seller’s belongings, disrupting other guests, etc.  I have a responsibility and an obligation to keep the seller’s home and belongings safe and intact, and more importantly, I do not want anyone to fall or incur any injuries at the house.   As for dogs, this one continues to make my jaw drop as I have had countless guests who are offended when I tell them their dog cannot come in.

So now that we’ve covered some security issues, here are my tips for open house etiquette.

Open House Etiquette

1) Why do you care if I have an agent?  This one I think is a hot-button for open house attendees.  The plain and simple truth to why we ask this question is because if you have an agent, we do not want to have any perception that we are trying to work with you.  Realtors are held to an ethical standard of how we work with clients, and if you tell us you are working with an agent, we respect that and do not pursue a working relationship with you.

1a) What does “working with an agent” actually mean?  If you have an agent who is communicating with you about homes, or has showed you homes, then you are working with an agent.  If your agent did not ask you to sign a buyer’s agreement, the relationship can be unclear.  But agents like clients who are loyal to them.  If you are asking an agent to do work for you but you do not want that agent to assist you, please let them know.  It will save everyone a lot of grief in the future.

2) Do I really need to take my shoes off?  The seller would appreciate it if you took your shoes off or slipped on the provided booties over your shoes.  I have had guests unknowingly track in mud and other awful things.  Enter the open house as you would a friend or family’s home.

3) May I use the restroom?  This is not a rest stop or a public facility.  Please don’t use the seller’s bathroom unless it is a dire, and I mean, dire emergency situation.

4) But I have so many things to tell you!  The agent is there to greet everyone who walks through the door.  Don’t monopolize the agent’s time when other guests enter the home.  Allow them to speak to everyone.

5) What?  No lunch?!  I used to have snacks at my open houses, but if there were just a few guests, I ended up eating the whole tray of cookies myself!  I’ve stopped bringing food, which has evoked complaints, but has helped my waistline!

Agents who host open houses are there to help and answer any questions.  They are also there to offer their services as a buyer’s agent.  But safety is always a priority and agents need to be diligent about who enters the home.  I hope this has given some insight as to why open house agents do what they do.  Happy house-hunting!

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