The Do’s and Don’ts of House Hunting

Homebuyers can get away with a lot of things these days; lowball offers, closing cost credits, tax credits. But just because the market is leaning in favour of Buyers, doesn’t mean you should waltz into every open house and demand things. (Even though you might get them if the seller is motivated enough.)

Restrain yourself and stick to these rules of open house etiquette to ensure a pleasant house hunting experience.

Have a Game Plan

If you’re giving up an hour on a Sunday, you might as well set aside the entire afternoon. Research properties you want to see and schedule your day so you hit up open houses in one area, then move on to the next and so on. Allow yourself enough time to see each home and travel to the next one.

Wear a Comfortable and Appropriate Outfit

It’s not a fashion show so leave the Armani suit and Jimmy Choos at home. That said, a tank top and Daisy Dukes are inappropriate. Keep it reasonable. Plus, you’re going to do a lot of walking through the rooms and up and down stairs so wear comfortable clothes and shoes.

Be Polite to the Host

Even if you dread dealing with Real Estate Agents, don’t give the agent hosting the open house the cold shoulder. Smile and greet them. If the agent seem pushy or is trying to solicit your business, kindly tell them you already have an agent and thank them when you leave.

Focus on the Property

This isn’t social hour, so after you’ve greeted the host, get down to business. Prepared Selling Agents will hand out a property description sheet with information like square footage, number of bedrooms, bathrooms and special features. Use it to take notes and check out things as your walk through the house. If the square footage is important to you, bring a tape measure.

Ask Before Taking Photos and Videos

Remember, in many cases the home is still someone’s private residence so before you snap a photo or hit record, ask permission.

Feel Before You Sit

Some homes for sale are empty and staged with fake furniture, such as blow up beds. So make sure you check it’s real before you plop yourself down.

Look, Don’t Rummage

Make sure there’s enough storage space in the home, but don’t go through someone else’s private belongings. Check the width and depth of the closets, kitchen and bathroom drawers, cupboards and cabinets. And while you’re at it, see if anything is broken or squeaks.

Hold the Criticism Until After You Leave

Like you learned in kindergarten, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Again, the seller still calls the place home, so don’t badmouth it during the tour. Who knows who may be listening, the seller, a neighbour, a friend? If you end up in a multiple offer situation where price and terms are similar, you don’t want the seller choosing the other buyer because he heard you criticizing his home.

Avoid TMI

Meaning You divulging details about your situation, such as your home search is going and when you need to move. While there’s nothing wrong with a little chit-chat, keep the conversation focused on the property. And use your best poker face. Even if you’ve walked into your ultimate dream home, don’t show any emotion. Remember the agent works for the seller so you don’t want to share any information that could compromise your bargaining position. Think Miranda rights, anything you say can and will be used against you in a potential negotiation.

Asking Probing Questions, Politely

It’s okay to ask about the seller’s motivation and if there are any offers currently on the property. Find out if there are any upcoming special assessments or other fees that you may not know. And it doesn’t hurt to get the agent’s insight on the neighbourhood and nearby schools. Sometimes the open house agent is filling in for the actual listing agent and won’t know anything about the property, or they can’t answer certain questions. It can be frustrating, but keep your cool and ask where you can get the information.

Listen to Other Buyers

They may or may not be your competition, but they may know something you don’t about the property or neighbourhood, such as the barking dog next door. Listen to other guests’ reactions to the home and engage in polite conversation. You don’t have to divulge details of your own search, but you never know what someone else might say.



By: Annalisa Burgo

Written by Annalisa Burgos