2017-09-07 / Real Estate News

What’s rude to ask during an open house?

It’s open house day and buyers are flocking to your property. What happens when touring guests need to use the bathroom? Will they ask you or will they wander off and accidentally use your property’s detached toilet? For the touring guests who are too embarrassed to ask, HouseLogic writer Stacey Freed contacted real estate pros for input on the top hidden questions buyers have about open house etiquette.

Can I use the bathroom?

A client with a full bladder needs a place to go, but how would they know if the home’s toilets are functioning?

“Guests should ask permission,” says Pat Vredevoogd Combs, former National Association of Realtors president. Ms. Combs works in Grand Rapids, Mich., and deals with many vacant homes without running water, especially during the winter. If no one asks, inform guests about bathroom use early on during the open house and be sure no one’s using an unusable toilet.

And if you’re at a busy open house, being in the loo for more than a minute means other potential buyers can’t check out the facilities — and may not want to after you’ve, um, done your business.

To be safe, schedule in a few pit stops at restaurants or gas stations along the way, suggests Ms. Vredevoogd Combs.

Is it OK to bring in my coffee?

“Many first-time home buyers are Millennials, and I almost never see them without a cup of Starbucks in their hand,” Ms. Vredevoogd Combs says. “I had one guy spill his coffee on white carpeting and we had to get down on our hands and knees to clean it up.”

Buyers need to take caution when bringing outside drinks to open houses, and food is a no-no unless the seller is offering snacks. Guests should eat only in the kitchen, preferably over a napkin.

Can I look in the closets?

“Absolutely,” says Tg Glazer, 2016 president of the New Jersey Association of Realtors. Whoever is touring the property is welcome to look inside closet spaces, Mr. Glazer says, but agents should not allow guests to ransack through what’s already in the home.

“Buying a home is probably the biggest purchase buyers are ever going to make, and they need to check out everything.”

How about a quick selfie with this awesome, lemon-colored range?

With smartphones being practically an appendage for many buyers, snapping pics to share with friends and family is so easy. But hold your trigger finger, especially if you’re planning to share the images online.

Whether you can take photos and videos “seems to be a regional custom,” Ms. Vredevoogd Combs says. “In some cases, sellers have valuable things and don’t even want their homes promoted online. Ask permission first.”

Can I plop down on that chaise lounge?

Ms. Vredevoogd Combs says she’s not a fan.

“Feeling comfortable enough to want to sit on the furniture might be a good intent to buy, but it isn’t your furniture and you’re not buying it.” Plus, that cozy looking couch or comfy bed might be staged — air beds or cardboard boxes wearing fancy clothes — so you might take a spill.

If you need to sit, for health reasons or that sprained ankle from your last marathon, just ask. That’s not unreasonable.

The bottom line is the old-fashioned Golden Rule: Do unto others’ homes as you’d have them do unto yours.

“Be on your best behavior,” says Ms. Vredevoogd Combs. Pretend the seller is there — and sometimes they are, even if you can’t see them. They might be waiting next door at a neighbor’s house and wander back at any minute. So it’s also a good idea to keep comments to yourself. You wouldn’t want them to overhear how much you love the master suite — that could mess up your negotiating power if you decide to buy. ¦

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