When is an Open House Open?

Open Door by Ken Bosma
Open Door by Ken Bosma

Open house showings have become a standard part of home buying. Almost everybody wishes to get to know their potential future home and actually touch and tour it. I don't think I've met anybody who passed up a chance to see their future home before making an offer.

Open house showings, however, have their own set of rules — even for visitors and buyers. It's good to make an appointment ahead of time; the earlier, the better. This allows your agent to notify the owners that you're coming to visit well in advance. This notification in turn gives the owners time to arrange their schedule so that they're not home when you come over.

Every now and then, buyers may decide that they want to see another house when they're already touring one; but it is rarely that simple. You can, of course, visit a newly built house or a vacant house at any time, provided that your agent can access the keys. You can hardly ask a family to pack up in the middle of their Saturday lunch, though!

It's always best to plan your open-house itinerary ahead of time. The brand new houses may be locked (as they should be) and the key holder may be away for the weekend, if that's when you're touring. Vacant houses are a safer bet, although your agent may not be entirely prepared and know everything about the place. What's more, vacant houses sometimes need a little dusting before an open showing — especially if they've been on the market for a while.

Every open house visitor must understand that there may be a family living in the house that he or she is eager to see. While it's true that the family does want to sell and needs to bear the discomfort of having to leave for you to visit, common courtesy and understanding is essential, even in this case — you also want to buy on good terms, after all.

What were your favourite places to take your family when you were selling your last house? If you have any good ideas for making the most out of the times you had to be away, share them in the comments!

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