There’s a new Australian novel called Other People’s Houses written by Kelli Hawkins in which the main character, Kate, loves to spend her weekends attending open homes in the luxury end of the market to get a glimpse of how the other half lives. In the novel, Kate takes what she refers to as a ‘small memento’ from each home she inspects. While the rule: ‘thou shalt not steal’ from an open home may be obvious, here are a few perhaps less obvious guidelines to respect when attending an open home.
Snooping through bedrooms and wardrobes
There is a fine line between inspecting the storage space in your potential future home and snooping through people’s cupboards and drawers to see what labels they wear and check out their collection of shoes etc. Opening kitchen cupboards and drawers is one thing, but use common courtesy and respect when checking out the more private areas of the home, like the bedrooms. It’s worth getting the agent’s approval before opening an owner’s built-in wardrobe or bathroom vanity, for instance.
Go to the loo before or after the open home
Again, this may seem obvious, but you may be surprised to learn how many people assume they can use the toilet in an owner’s home if nature calls. Of course if you can’t wait, that’s a different story. But at least ask the agent rather than just use the loo in the main bathroom or ensuite as the agent may be able to direct you to a toilet that is more tucked away in the home.
Check your shoes
Few agents would expect you to remove your shoes when attending an open home, however it is common courtesy to check the bottom of your shoes if you’ve just walked through the garden and to wipe your feet well on the door mat before entering. There have been stories from agents of dog poop being walked through an entire home, including the carpeted areas!
Keep your negative comments to yourself
When house hunting, you’re not going to love every open home you attend. However, if you don’t like the property, or certain aspects of it, wait until you leave to tell your partner about all the things you didn’t like about it in private. Putting down a property in front of other potential buyers is disrespectful, rude and could damage the sales campaign.
Ask for permission before taking photos
If you are serious about the home you are inspecting and want to take photos to help you remember various rooms and dimensions or show a loved one, make sure you obtain the agent’s permission first. It’s not okay to take selfies while in the home to post on your social feed to show your friends what you’ve been up to.
Don’t make yourself at home on the sofa or worse, the bed!
Owners do their best to showcase their home in its best light for open homes (sometimes staging is involved too) and this can make the decor look so inviting that you just want to sink into the sofa or try out the bed to see what the view is like from that angle. That is not okay. It is the home that is for sale, not the furniture in it.
Keep an eye on the kids
While it’s perfectly fine to bring the kids to an open home (in fact, it’s encouraged), that doesn’t mean you can let them run loose in the home while you inspect it. Agents have seen it all, from young children accidentally knocking a vase off the coffee to taking a toy from a child’s bedroom. Children are always welcome – after all, it may be their future home too – but just keep a close eye on them.
The bottom line when attending open homes is courtesy, respect and common sense. If you wouldn’t want a potential buyer doing something in your home, then don’t do it yourself when inspecting someone else’s home.