What Is An Open House?

If you drive around on a Sunday afternoon, you are bound to see ‘open house’ signs strategically placed near the road pointing you to homes that are for sale and open for all prospective buyers to walk through freely without the assistance of a real estate agent.

There will be a listing agent and possibly other licensed agents on hand but you as a buyer are free to inspect these homes without your own agent. You will also see FSBOs holding their own open houses without the help of an agent. Regardless of the format, the goal is the same – to get potential buyers into the home to look around and possibly come back for a second and private showing or even make an offer on the home.

These open houses are great tools for buyers, particularly to those who have not settled yet on a particular neighborhood or community. Getting into homes without having to set up showing appointments and get pre-approved by a mortgage lender is a great way to see specific homes in certain areas and get a handle on the general condition, interior design and exterior qualities of homes.

You may not have the opportunity to ask important questions of the owner or agent depending on how busy the open house is so save them for an official showing at a later date. If the home is in a highly desirable neighborhood and the open house is packed with people then try to get that showing scheduled as soon as possible. And if the home is listed with a real estate agent then don’t expect that home owner to be on hand as real estate professionals generally handle the showings, open houses and negotiations for the sellers.

Start with your local newspaper to find open houses. Many agents advertise their open houses, the hours they will be held, the prices and features as well as the addresses for the homes. Agents or sellers will usually put a sign in the ground a few days before the open house which announces the event and the times. Open houses are oftentimes held on Sundays between 11AM to 4PM so you might want to plan your day to include a few open houses. Create a route that allows you to spend an ample amount of time at each home, don’t forget to sign on the home’s guest list because these are used by agents for follow up and to show homeowners how much traffic came through during the event, also use the time to get a relaxed, no pressure perspective on homes that you might like to purchase.