Walk right on in but mind your shoes, and for heaven’s sake don’t start sampling colognes

Touring a house as a possible buyer is like visiting as a houseguest — sort of. Pitting bad buyer against proper behavior, here’s a slightly tongue-in-cheek look at the ins and outs of open house etiquette for home buyers.

1 I’ll only be here a few minutes

Don’t park in the owner’s driveway and take care not to block mailboxes or access to a neighbor’s drive.

Trouble maker child

When it comes to open houses, it’s generally best not to bring small children for, well, obvious reasons…

2 They’ll play while we look

Try to leave young children and babies with another family member or babysitter. You will be able to pay more attention to what you are seeing and you won’t have to worry about them wandering off or picking up items that are breakable or dangerous.


If the property is listed in the paper or online as open during a specific period, or if there is an “open house” realty sign out front, there’s generally no need to knock or ring the bell before entering.

4 I didn’t notice the time

Be punctual. For an open house, mind the posted hours, and don’t expect to get in early or late. When the showing is by appointment, punctuality is crucial. “If you have set up a specific time for a private tour, show up at the agreed upon time,” says Scott Kline, a real estate agent for more than 30 years. “The sellers may have had to change plans or make special arrangements for child or pet care to accommodate your schedule, so be respectful of that. If you’re going to be late or need to reschedule, let your real estate agent know as soon as possible.”

5 Who is that agent?

When you enter an open house, you’ll likely be asked to sign in and provide some basic contact information. If you do not want to be contacted by the listing agent, be sure to indicate that next to your name. If you already have an agent working for you, add your agent’s name next to yours on the sign-in sheet.

Floor matt with shoes

Remember, you are a guest in someone’s home. If they have rules, be polite and follow them.

6 Was there a doormat?

Remember you are visiting a private property as a guest. Make sure your shoes are clean and respect the wishes of the homeowner. If you are asked to remove your shoes or wear booties, please do so.

7 What ugly wallpaper!

If the seller or listing agent will remain onsite during the tour, refrain from sharing any feedback about the property until you’re back in the car. Sharing too much information — such as indicating that the home is in your price range or is located in your favorite neighborhood — can undermine your bargaining position. If you dislike the house the moment you see it, take a brief walk-through anyway to be polite.

8 Mind if I look through the spice collection?

Never touch personal items in the home, and ask permission before using the bathroom.

The bottom line of open house etiquette for home buyers: Be nice!

Quick Tip

Let your agent help

Consider your real estate agent as your communication hub. You’ll undoubtedly have questions about a property that you are considering. Make a list of what you need to know before making an offer and then funnel the questions through your agent, ideally through e-mail. When the agent provides an e-mail response with answers or suggestions on how to find what you’re looking for, you’ll have the information you need in one easy-access spot.

Are you looking for a new place? Find a local realty expert who can help with the hunt, or explore homes for sale with our real estate listings.