Orlando Real Estate, Orlando Buyers Agent, Orlando Homes, Orlando Buyers Broker: Etiquette for Agents holding open house

Etiquette for Agents holding open house

Holding an open house should be solely for the benefit of promoting the sellers property.  It should not be used for the purpose of snagging buyers so that you can show them a better deal down the street.


Here are some helpful hints:


1. The consumer that comes through the door at your open house is NOT YOUR BUYER.  You have "no relationship" with them so they do not belong to you. They might even have an Exclusive Agency relationship with another agent. 


2.  It is not the consumers job to tell you they have an agent...they do not have to adhere to any code of ethics.  It is your job to ask and respect it.  If the "looker" thinks you might not like that they already have an agent, they just might not admit that they really do have an agent. Let them know that their agent is welcome and you will be happy to cooperate. (You are obligated to cooperate anyway)


3. Consider not peppering them with questions. Back off and let them breathe. If you walked into a store and the salesperson started asking you questions, had you sign in and started pushing their product, you would probably want to leave. The visitors are already uncomfortable walking into someone else's house, so don't make it worse.


4. Try not having a sign in sheet.  If they are free game and they like you, they will offer their REAL phone number to you, instead of you requesting and getting a fake one.  If you think you must have them sign in, make a line for their agents name, too.


5.  It is not your job to pre-qualify any visitor.  Asking for personal or confidential information is acceptable only with an established fiduciary relationship that a buyer has with their buyers agent or their mortgage broker.


6.  If the visitor shows serious interest in the property, don't tell them that they have to submit the offer only through you.  That is simply not true...and you know it.


7.  If the buyer later submits an offer through their agent, put a smile on your face and be happy that you might make a sale.


8.  Don't rant to the Buyers Agent that you got cheated out of of both ends of the deal. The buyers agent just might decide to dig deep for a nicer house at a better price.


Open houses are open to the public.  That includes the curious, the unqualified and those unaccompanied by their agent.  Your job is to open the door and welcome all.


Buyers Broker of Florida is an Exclusive Buyer Agency office that represents only the best interest of the buyer and never the seller...407-539-1053

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 Eve Alexander Orlando Buyers Agent


Comment balloon 115 commentsEve Alexander • October 21 2014 12:47PM


Great tips. I wonder how many will actually stick to all of them. Good luck!

Posted by Tanya Van Blake-Coleman, Improving the Quality of Your Life (Van Blake-Coleman Realty, St. Thomas/www.talk-to-Tanya.com) almost 5 years ago

Sign in sheets should definitely have a line for buyers agents name, so important.

Posted by David Popoff, Realtor®,SRS, Green ~ Fairfield County, Ct (DMK Real Estate ) almost 5 years ago

For a Windmere, FL Broker, contact Mike and Eve Alexander at (407) 539-1053.

Posted by Will Nesbitt, Nesbitt Realty is a family-run brokerage. (Nesbitt Realty at Condo Alexandria) almost 5 years ago

Finally. Someone speaking the truth about Open Houses. Thank you for a great explanation. I just hope the ones who need to read this actually do.

Posted by Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker, Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940 (Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska) almost 5 years ago

Mike and Eve......well thought out and written....thank you for sharing.

Posted by Daniel J. Brudnok, REALTOR, SRES, e-PRO,ABR,GREEN,CSP (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach, REALTORS - Exton - PA License #RS-225179-L / Delaware License #RS-0025038) almost 5 years ago

Open houses are a necessary evil - but adhering to a set of rules would be great if everyone would do it! 

I'm seeing many more buyers working with agents already - I think buyer agreements are becoming more popular.  The idea of snagging an "unsecured" buyer is getting harder to do.

Posted by Margaret Goss, Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate (Baird & Warner Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

I would agree with David, I do like having sign-in sheets WITH room for the Buyers agent name. It makes everyone feel at ease knowing someone is already represented. 

Personally, I take all my buyers to Open Houses, I would NOT send them out on their own.

Posted by Chris B Johnson REALTOR®, 5 Star Rated REALTOR® Quality, Not Quantity (Allison James Elite) almost 5 years ago

Funny watch Leona Campbell at Open House ... 


Posted by Thoth Calvert almost 5 years ago

I have people sign in only to appease the sellers. Sellers want to know who came through, well most do. I've have agents from other companies which will remain un named try to convince my buyers even after I have called them and told them my buyers are coming or called and said "my buyer saw your open house" not respond to me and want to go through only my buyer or even give them a presentation. I have one GREAT thing that separates me from most...my INTEGRITY I follow the code of Ethics and the code of Karma! I wish more agents would figure it out.

Posted by Rosanne Nitti almost 5 years ago

Well said. The whole, " you didn't show the house" attitude should never even come up.

Posted by Rick Snow - Selling El Paso TX, Cool Deals on Hot Real Estate in El Paso, Texas (EXIT West Realty) almost 5 years ago

I'm so glad you mentioned the sign in sheet.  I'm a firm believer in making a connecting with a prospective buyer through a natural conversation. 


Posted by Wayne Miller, A Real Estate Consultant Who Listens (Keller Williams Realty SD Metro) almost 5 years ago

I AGREE with the Author of this post!!! I can honestly say that I do Open Houses as a service to my Sellers only. I do not have a sign in sheet, I do not barrage them with questions, I do answer any questions they have. If we engage I ask if the have an agent, but don't press. I wear my name badge and hand them my business card and tell them to feel free to call, or have your agent call me with any questions should they be interested. I know this type of thinking is very different than what many agents believe. But it is refreshing to see someone else feels as I do. 

Posted by David Hyre, Keller Williams Realty North Central (Keller Williams Realty No. Central) almost 5 years ago

HAH if real estate agents couldn't attempt to get new clients from an open house how many of them would actually stop with the complete BS about how great they are! Would those that do open houses finally stop misleading the public about how important they are to selling a home? Open houses do not sell homes! Real buyers always schedule to see homes they are interested in. The open house always has and always will be a prospecting tool for Realtors. How many real estate agents even bother to explain to sellers what a security risk they can be? Not many!

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) almost 5 years ago

I like the thoughts but we know what is usually the case...

Posted by Ron Aguilar, Mortgage & Real Estate Advisor since 1995 (Continental Mortgage) almost 5 years ago

Our open houses are done to showcase the home yes, but also for trying to get more listings from having that open house.  We want other sellers to see the kind of work, marketing, and event we have for our listings so that they want to hire us!

Posted by Amy Steele Realtor SRS CNE NHS MRP, Live,Work,Play...in North Texas (JP and Associates) almost 5 years ago

In this day and age doing an open house I want all to sign in to protect my agents.. That should be a requirement and truly most lookers (buyers, etc..) will understand...

Posted by Leslie Herald\ almost 5 years ago

In Sydney (Australia) we use open homes on 90% of properties, only celebrity or double digit million properties may be 'by appointment' - I welcome every visitor, neighbors (who may be thinking of selling), the curious (who have always wanted a peek at this house), buyers (with or without agents) and friends looking on behalf of someone else. You never know when you are going to meet the ideal buyer so smile and do your job and you will not only sell that house, but a neighbor might ask you to list their home as well!

Posted by Geoff Grist almost 5 years ago

In Sydney (Australia) we use open homes on 90% of properties, only celebrity or double digit million properties may be 'by appointment' - I welcome every visitor, neighbors (who may be thinking of selling), the curious (who have always wanted a peek at this house), buyers (with or without agents) and friends looking on behalf of someone else. You never know when you are going to meet the ideal buyer so smile and do your job and you will not only sell that house, but a neighbor might ask you to list their home as well!

Posted by Geoff Grist, Author of Sold Above Market book (Mosman Neutral Bay Realty, Sydney Australia) almost 5 years ago

Excellent points. No agency is created just because a buyer wanders in and answers 'no' to your question about whether or not they have a Realtor.  They are entitled to their own representation later if they want to buy the house. You are already representing the seller.


Posted by Sarah, John Rummage, Love Being Realtors® in the Nashville TN Area! (Benchmark Realty LLC, Nashville TN 615.516.5233) almost 5 years ago

I'll be honest I agree with you 90% of the way. I have an optional sign in sheet otherwise I have no issues with most of the "ettiquite". 


But this looks alot more like a buyers agents complaint list to me then it does an actuall suggestion as to the ettiquite of an open house.

Posted by jason s almost 5 years ago

I agree in part- but I do think you need a sign in sheet- from a realtor safety stand point, you have a responsibility to protect yourself and to protect the seller - but the first question should be "are you working with an agent, please put their name on the sign in sheet as well"

Posted by Robert Rauf (HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ)) almost 5 years ago

Nice, well-written post. Thank you.  I agree with David, #12. However, I have to add that the Seller does like to see how many people came to the POH.  I answer questions, do NOT pound them for information other than "Are you working with an agent?"  If the answer is no, "Please give me a call if I can be of any assistance."

Posted by Christi Farrington, ~ Your representative in Fairfield County, CT (Dagny's Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

I agree with most of this.  However, I think sign in is important.  I do not use a sign in sheet.  I pass out cards and ask them to complete.  The sign in is not just marketing (although it is part of it), but you want to provide a record (even if problematic) to the owner of who was in the house.  I do ask on the card a lot of those questions  you mention, but they can leave them blank.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

I agree with all of the above statements! Holding houses open is a lot of fun, if you know how to interact with people. Open houses are supposed to be a no pressure sales environment! It is about building the relationship with a potential buyer or seller. I have a feedback card that I provide and ask them to give feedback for the seller please. 90% of the time they provide all information requested (name, phone, email and if they are working with another broker). They do that because when they are done looking at the house I just talk to them about the home, what they liked, didn't and what they are looking for. Easy way to capture new business and referrals.

Posted by Karen Gauer, Your Real Estate Concierge (Dynamic Realty Group LLC) almost 5 years ago

Most of my sellers want Open Houses, and I think they are a good way to keep the homes I represent "top of mind."  I do not pepper visiting buyers with lots of questions, but I do require that they sign in.  These are complete strangers who will be wandering around the private spaces of someone else's home,  and the least they should do is to provide their real names; that is not too much to ask, by any means.   I do not press for phone numbers or email addresses, and I'm happy to cooperate with other agents.  

I kind of resent the tone of your article, as if those of us who conduct Open Houses have ulterior motives beyond selling the house.  Perhaps some do, and it's certainly true that we may meet buyers for whom the house we're showing isn't perfect.  But you're painting with too broad a brush.  I see that you're an exclusive buyers' agent.  With that in mind, you shouldn't encounter the issues you're complaining about because you always accompany your clients to Open Houses, right?

Posted by Maureen Harmonay, Your Country Property Specialist, Bolton MA (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) almost 5 years ago

The last home I had listed, I always had a sign in sheet per the request of my sellers and per my own policy.

And, as far as your opening graph goes, any agent who says they are not doing open houses to find other buyers isn't telling the whole truth. Yes, I'm there to market and hopefully sell my listing but I'm also there in hopes of finding buyers...and have I found buyers at my open houses more often than I sell the listing I'm sitting.

Posted by Emmary Simpson, Serving Las Cruces, NM (Las Cruces Homes and Land) almost 5 years ago

Mike -- I look at it as another marketing opportunity. Any way I can get the seller's house out there I will do it. Serious buyers? Rarely.  Buyers represented by an agent?  Yes... a lot.  People coming in to see how you conduct and open house?  Yes, I have listed homes because of it. BTW, I bought my present home on an open house!

Posted by Barbara Altieri, REALTOR-Fairfield County CT Homes/Condos For Sale (Kinard Realty Group - RealtyQuest Team, Fairfield and New Haven County CT Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

I'm surprised you didn't set AR comments on fire with this blog. I agree with you completely. BUT... the reality is.... and lets be honest, that most agents (98% in my view) hold open houses to drum up new clients - buyers - that is. Selling the subject property is gravy. If I recall the NAR statistics, less than 2% of homes are ever sold via an open house. So why are agents doing open houses? Because that's where buyers hang out. That's why.

I can assure you that I know agents that built entire huge transactional businesses with open houses as their main marketing strategy. And, I know in my region, that we have contracts that are written at open houses for the subject property even though the buyer has supposedly an agent. But the buyer agent is AWOL at that time - loyalty is out the window as money talks. This applies to both resales and new homes.

Posted by Richard Bazinet /MBA, CRS, ABR, Phoenix Scottsdale. Sellers, Buyers & Relocations (West USA Realty) almost 5 years ago

Sorry but don't agree with about half of your points. If a person walks into the open house yes am going to ask questions. Yes I ask them to sign in. I have no issue with that person telling me they are working with another agent. Most times that doesn't happen. I ask. Times in the past I have heard yes they are working with an agent. I accomomdate and suggest they need to talk to their agent. Usually I hear but they don't listen to me and my needs and can I help them. Should I say no? I do open houses for a lot more then seller gratification. Listings, referrals and buyers for example and most importantly to sell the property. Love Maureen Harmonay's comments.

Posted by Bill Reddington, Destin Florida Real Estate (Re/max Southern Realty) almost 5 years ago

... and I would like to add, that although I'm not myself big on open houses, what other marketing strategy brings potential buyers walking up to you personally and excslusively with no other agents involved, in some cases by the dozen or more, in a matter of a few hours.

Posted by Richard Bazinet /MBA, CRS, ABR, Phoenix Scottsdale. Sellers, Buyers & Relocations (West USA Realty) almost 5 years ago

Good ole common sense wins out everytime but who doesn't need a little re charge every so often.

Posted by John DL Arendsen, Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor (CREST BACKYARD HOMES, ON THE LEVEL GENERAL & FACTORY BUILT HOME CONTRACTOR, TAG REAL ESTATE SALES & INVESTMENTS) almost 5 years ago

Excellent post, thank you Mike and Eve!

Posted by The Keith Kropp and Wayne Rogers Team, Keeping The Focus On You! (Atchley Properties) almost 5 years ago

I, too, believe that a 'sign-in sheet' is a good idea.  Yes, we sometimes get bogus names/contact info, but, it is a good way to keep track of how many people came to visit.  Also, the sheet has a section for 'address' -- while many people don't give their full address, it's good to know which live around the corner and which drove an hour to visit -- they are looking for different types of info -- it's not just about the house, but also the Town/Schools/Community and those coming from further away appreciate the add'l info.   My sign-in sheet does ask if they already have an Agent  -- it's sometimes amusing how many people will say 'yes' they have an Agent but can't remember his/her name or what Brokerage they are with!!

Posted by Marilyn Holda-Fleck, Personal service for each and every Customer (Coldwell Banker Residential Broker) almost 5 years ago

Our sign in sheets ask for their name and contact information or their agents. When I send out notice to agents that we are holding a house open, I let them know we are hands off their client. I want other agents to send their buyers through our open houses.

Posted by Jackie Hawley, Southeast Michigan Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Professionals) almost 5 years ago

We just completed our second 3D scan in Texas. Its amazing. Its a tool we will use to have OPEN HOUSE every day. I can't wait to upload this lastest technology and offer this service to our future clients.

Posted by David Pannell, Broker Extraordinaire (CITIES - A Real Estate Brokerage) almost 5 years ago

I hate open houses and almost never do them anymore but early in my career I did. I didn't do them to pick up buyers, I did them to get listings. The week before I'd walk the neighborhood door knocking and putting out door hangers with invitations. It worked great, I'd have neighbors call me to list their homes and they'd tell me how impressed they were with how hard I worked to sell their neighbors house.

I only ever sold one house of an open house. Buyer told me they wanted to make an offer but that their agent was out of town. I offered to write it up in their agents name. Had it accepted and signed before their agent even knew they sold it.

Posted by Patrick Willard almost 5 years ago

I hold open houses, but I always want to know how the seller feels about the process.  If they don't like it I won't do it. I will hold an open house as often as my seller wants me too. If I am busy, I get other agents to help. I tally the people and make a report for my seller on the things they like and things they don't like.  

I think the formula that works is the one YOU feel confortable with. 

Posted by Sheri Sperry - MCNE®, (928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR® (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) almost 5 years ago

   I disagree with #1 and #2.

  1.  If a person comes into "my" open house, I have every legal right under Florida license law to have that Buyer write an offer and bring them to contract.  If that Buyer does have a written Buyer Brokerage Agreement with another Broker, that Broker can go after the BUYER in Civil Court for breach of contract and/or remuneration.  That Broker has no legal standing to demand a commission from me.*

  2.  I am not "obligated to cooperate", if the house is not in MLS, or if there is not a written commission agreement between Brokers.

  * I am happy to cooperate, I prefer to cooperate.  But once I write an offer, present it to the Seller, get it accepted, then it is my deal. 


Posted by Fred Griffin, on leave of absence from ActiveRain, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker (Fred Griffin Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

Let me preface this carefully. I only work with a buyer that has proof of funds, and is ready to commit to the transaction in 4 days ( nothing else ) and this year I dealt with only 1 buyer.otherwise I keep getting listings.

I offered my open house to another Realtor that enjoys working with buyers and I choose a specific walk up condo to try some on my prospecting scripts on and it was fun see her panic with the questions I asked.

so let me start off with some specific points :

1) "The consumer that comes through the door at your open house is NOT YOUR BUYER."

you might be right, but before I'm done they will be or another telephone prospect.

so the first thing I ask everyone walking in was " hi, I'm Michael, can I have your business card please... don't have one, here's Lori's, She will be your buyers rep unless you have a Realtor already. Do YOU have a Realtor you are working with ???

Yes, great, let's set the appointment for a private showing ... have a nice day ... Out the door ( I won't be getting money directly from them, so let me get to the next prospect )

No, Great, let's talk some more with Lori, she will help you understand this market.

2) It is not the consumers job to tell you they have an agent.

you know, that's incorrect, when you sign the exclusive, the agent has to tell them to inform all Realtor they meet you have an exclusive. Otherwise it could interfere with the future relationship. ( do you really want to piss off a listing agent after he's done the 8 steps of procure cause )

3) Consider not peppering them with questions.

Really? ask and my favorite question to ask is " why did you choose this house of the 12 houses on the block to see "  then just shut up and listen, They will be honest, my favorite was the young lady who walked in and said " I wanted to see how my ex-husbands new wife decorated the place " ... I did an escorted tour just incase she had the idea of doing damage to the place.


4) Try not having a sign in sheet.

Maybe because I don't deal with buyers, I don't get it. I want the number, name and as many details as possible to get my properties and my skills to them.

5) It is not your job to pre-qualify any visitor.

REALLY??? that's the fastest way to get a knife in your gut and I'm not joking, here are some sad stories of fellow realtors loss of life http://realestate.aol.com/blog/2010/01/13/fatal-transaction-gruesome-tales-of-real-estate-murders/

Always be ready to hit someone on open houses, and always let them go first into all rooms. I carry a Mag-Lite, to shine in closets ;)

Also, this is why we ask questions before doing the tour.

6) If the visitor shows serious interest in the property

You have contract already with you ( and if you don't have one at an open house, you screwed up ) and you say " here is a contract, what price do you want to offer, OK great, now do you have a lawyer, Great, take the contract over to him to review and fax it back to me "  Really, it's that simple to get a deal, and it works. I go to other realtors open houses to give them support and talk a bit of shop, Seen it done 4 times this year. It's a wonderful thing.  and I sit there like a dumb log with my mouth open, selling at it's best.


7) If the buyer later submits an offer through their agent,

Laugh it off, you did not get both sides of the deal oh well ... ( disclosure, 93% of all my deals are just 1 side ). now if you did the 8 steps and showed other properties, you might want to advise the other realtor of your documented 8 steps. That's the unoffical notice that you procured cause and no-realtor is being paid at the closing table unless the brokers talk sense to each of the sales agents. Belive you me, if I delt with a buyer, and this happened, you won't get paid until it's hashed out. Sorry but that's just the rules of this game.


8) Don't rant to the Buyers Agent that you got cheated

DAMM RIGHT!!! I don't know how you buyer agents do it, but I love each and every one of you that show my propertys. how you can deal with a buyer is amazing. That's why when you show my properties I say certain things which all realtors should say

a) You are a great buyers agent xxx

a1) It's great to know your clients are in great hands

b) I am sure that the paperwork will be easy, you guys have great training


Love you buyer agents


Posted by Michael Rasch, Michael Rasch 305-741-1819 (Florida Home Sales and Investments ) almost 5 years ago

Tanya:  How many will stick to it?  Not enought for sure.

David:  I agree with that.

Will:  Thank you.

Mike:  Reading it, understanding it and doing it are three different things.  Those that don't understand agency will never do it.

Dan: Thank you for saying so.

Margaret:  Good point. Glad you understand a "secured" buyer.

Posted by Eve Alexander, Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers (Buyers Broker of Florida ) almost 5 years ago

This is exactly the way I host public open houses. My sellers (and their RELO reps) think it is a sign of weakness on my part to not have a list of everyone who attended and contact information so that I can follow up. In the future, I will address my method of hosting opens up front with my seller clients.

Posted by Kathy Cremer, GRI, ePRO, SFR, RELO (Key Choice Realty, LLC) almost 5 years ago

World of scarity much?  We use sign in sheets for the seller to have a record of people who came through  It is common sense and a safety issue.  It is great to ask a buyer if he is represented and signed anything.  It is OK to ask the buyer if he has cash or lender as he should know that before shopping.   It is not OK to pressure a buyer to use any agent to make a deal.  The buyers' agent should prep his buyer to let EVERYONE know immediately you are happily represented by someone.  Get his loan or proof of funds in place early. 

Most importantly DO YOUR JOB so the buyer does not have listing agents showing homes because they are told "call me when you find a home".  Get their criteria, build a tour, gather pricing, disclosures, full MLS and tax data on each home, schedule and show.

This keeps you representing your buyer and us our seller.  Do not be surprised if you lose buyers because they do not see value in you.

Taking 3% on a deal you did not work is not honest.  My opinion.

Best Wishes,







Posted by Tony Barker (Premiere Home Realty - Tony Barker 832-867-0835) almost 5 years ago

Chris: It is good that you accompany. Buyers will be on their own most of the time and there are agents everywhere that are fishing, Having an agency agreement is the only protection.

Thoth: Now that was really funny. 

Rosanne: you do "get it" and thank for your ethics.

Posted by Eve Alexander, Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers (Buyers Broker of Florida ) almost 5 years ago

I agree with Jason S - sounds like a rant to me. Although I agree with all points except 2 and 4.  It is common courtesy to let someone know you are working with an agent. I prefer it if you have your own agent, I will not bother you at all and will be happy to follow up with your agent to inquire if there is any interest on your part and to let them know that there are other interested parties so that the buyer with the help of thier agent can determine if they wish to submit an offer. You are coming into another  person's home, yes it is open to the public. It is a couteous thing to do to sign in with your real name at the very least and all of my sheets or cards have a place for an agents name.

Do you consider it proper etiquette for exclusive buyer agents to attend another brokers's open house and stand there and attempt to solicit unaccompanied buyers? This happened to me. The agents arrived to an open house in a highly sought after, affordable area.  They told me they were waiting for their clients and I was so happy that they had the time to come. After several different buyers arrived and listening to the conversation between all of them, I realized that the buyers had no clue who the agents were at all. The buyers confirmed that they didn't know the agents and didn't know why they were "showing" them the house.

I agree with Jackie Hawley, I want other agents to send their clients . . .

Posted by Angela Penkin (RE/MAX Plus) almost 5 years ago

No photo ID, no getting in my open house.  Safety first.  And of course I can prospect for buyers at my open house for the buyer's agents on my team.  If they have an agent they can see the home through an appointment with their agent.  And I only owe cooperation to members of my MLS, not every agent.

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) almost 5 years ago

Rick:  You are right. While it is irrilevant under  the code of ethics, most agents will try to use that as amo.

Wayne:  You got that right...just be yourself without the script.

David:  Wow, and I bet you are doing more business because of your style.

Bill G: Love your honesty

Ron: That is a problem that needs to change.

Posted by Eve Alexander, Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers (Buyers Broker of Florida ) almost 5 years ago

Funny, I was just reading a listing in our MLS in Massachusetts and the agent put in remarks "All Buyers must be accompanied at the Open House with their Buyer's Agent to be compensated" ---- does that sound like an "Open House" to you, sounds like a closed shop to me - your thoughts>?

Posted by MaryBeth Mills Muldowney, Massachusetts Broker Owner (TradeWinds Realty Group LLC) almost 5 years ago

Well, I agree with some of your points and disagree with others, but that's what makes the world go 'round, eh? Others have expounded better than I could, so I'll take the high road and just congratulate you on a thought-provoking post!

Posted by Pat & Wayne Harriman, Broker/Owners, Wallingford CT Real Estate (Harriman Real Estate, LLC (203) 672-4499) almost 5 years ago

Thanks for the great post Mike.   I really enjoyed reading all the responses.  Lots of good stuff and I have to say that although I don't do a lot of open houses, I do use a sign in sheet and also ask buyers to put their agent's name on the sheet so I can follow up with their agent. If they don't have an agent, it's my party and I'll sell if I want to!

Posted by Diana Dahlberg, Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563 (1 Month Realty) almost 5 years ago

Amy:  You are doing it for the right reasons

Leslie: If that is comforting than for sure you should do that.

Geoff:  Your mother raised you right

Sarah and John:  I can tell you understand agency and are an asset to your seller.

Jason S:  Yes. Most suggestions/ complaints do start from not being satisfied with something.

Robert:  I like your first question

Christi:  I do think that your soft approach works best

Gene:  A lot of agents feel like you do

Karen: Really like your common sense approach and I have no doubt that it works well for you.

Maureen:  My opinion is  based on 25 years of Florida experiences.  Maybe MA is different.  And no I do not attend all open houses with my clients as there is no rule that I must.  Thank you for your comment.

Posted by Eve Alexander, Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers (Buyers Broker of Florida ) almost 5 years ago

I would have to disagree with most of what is said here.  I would have to assume that Mike or Eva, whoever wrote this doesn't get much, if any, business from open houses.  One thing I do agree with is that if the people coming in have a contract with another agent then the agent at the open house should not be trying to get that business away from them.  Of course, if they have a contract with the other agent then they should not be going to an open house without that agent anyway.  That is a conversation that any good agent would have with their client up front.  If I am doing an open house, which is rare, I will ask questions of the person coming into my open house.  If I find out that they are working with an agent then I always ask who the agent is and why that the agent is not with them.  I don't pursue it any further than that and I still try to answer any other questions that they might have.  As far as no sign in, how are you going to follow up?  It is the agent's job to follow up with the prospect, not the prospect's job to follow up with the agent.

I do agree that if there is a contract signed with another agent then you should respect that.  However, these people are coming to your open house.  You and the homeowner have every right to find out who these people are that you have in your home.  This is as much a safety issues as anything else.  If the person is not willing to give me their information then I really just assume not have them in the house.  I also tell them that if they don't want me to call them or if they have an agent then just to put that down on the sign in sheet and I will not call them or that I will follow up with their agent.

Why don't I do open houses?  There are much better prospecting methods.  Also, what most agents don't have the backbone to tell sellers is that an open house is not being done for the homeowner's benefit but rather for the agent's benefit.  It is being done to find prospects who either want to buy a home or sell their home.  There is nearly 100% chance that you will not sell the home that is being held open at an open house.  Yes, it does happen.  However, it is extreamly rare.  It is time that agents started being honest with the homeowner.

I know there are probably other agents who will disagree with what I have written here and that is ok.  However, these are my thoughts on the situation.

Posted by Rocky Dole (Revelation Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

Emmary:  I am a big fan of an honest statement, thank you.

Barbara:  Good for you!

Richard:  Loyalty may be out the window, but an legally binding Buyer Agreement still talks.

Bill:  If a potential buyer belly aches to you about their agent, you do not need to say "No" but you do need to verify what kind of relationship they have with their agent.  Loosey goosy? or a legal written agreement that means hands off?

Richard:  That is one way of looking at it.

Posted by Eve Alexander, Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers (Buyers Broker of Florida ) almost 5 years ago

Your closing line says it all, "Open houses are open to the public.  That includes the curious, the unqualified and those unaccompanied by their agent.  Your job is to open the door and welcome all." Great post, thanks for sharing. 

Posted by Drick Ward, "RealtorDrick" - Experienced Representation (NEPTUNE REALTY) almost 5 years ago

WOW! Everything goes against why you would have an open house.

Need to re-post as a "here's what not to do at an open house"!

If they have a Buyers agncy agreement- have your lender talk to them and let them know how they can get out of it- if they want to:-) We can talk to them all day long!

Posted by Ben Yost - 303-587-4297, FHA, VA, Conventional - Mortgage Loans in De (First Time Home Buyer, Mortgage Rates, Pre-Approval) almost 5 years ago

While you have brought up some interesting comments, most of it I don't agree with. There is absolutely nothing wrong with expecting a visitor to post some information. If anyone is there for the wrong reason, it's a heads up that they don't want to leave information for that reason. To me, it's a safety measure and a courtesy to the sellers. What I do is prepare a nice gift bag and let them know if they will take a few minutes to provide me some quick information, I will give them a gift bag. And yes, it is my job to pre-qualify a potential buyer whether they call me on the phone or stop in at my open house. I don't pre-qualify everyone who comes to the open house, only those that are showing interest. As for some of the last things you mentioned, I think it's a given that we don't conduct ourselves in that manner.

Posted by Dianne Meyer almost 5 years ago

Been a while since I've had an open house. I had a sign in sheet but stated comments/remarks appreciated. If they don't want to sign their name so be it. No phone number just tells me you don't want to be contacted but owner would like to see how much activity was at the open house. I do ask if they are working with an agent and if they've been home searching for long. I ask if they've contacted a financial institution and if not I give them a list of "some financial experts "but" it is just a list. I never pressure anyone. Then if they are working with some one, I give them my business card to give to theire agent. Another reason to ask if they're working with another agent is so I don't step on any toes. And I offer them a bottle of water to quench their thirst.

Posted by Theresa Akin (CORPUS CHRISTI REALTY GROUP) almost 5 years ago

Can one person be wrong on so many points?  Or are you just trying to be provacative? If visitors to open houses are unrepresented, that host has every right to try to become their buyer's rep with a view of getting them the subject home or another home.

Sellers (usually in the form of neighbors) also visit open houses and again that host has every right to try and obtain those listings so long as there no written agreements in place.

All without any apologies.  This is all assuming everything is done in a professional manner.

Posted by Norma Skeete, ABR, GRI, SFR, SRES, CNE, MRP, Arlington VA (Samson Properties) almost 5 years ago

@DRICK WARD ... Open house is not open to the public, It's open to whom you want to let in. Never forget that. MY DOOR, MY LIABILITY, my problem if something is stolen or broken.

So don't fear asking questions prior to letting them in the door. Nothing states that a house ( or condo ) is special, if the velvet rope is clicked close.


as a listing realtor, it's my job to qualify and get offers as near to my asking price as possible. So it's a waste of time for me to show it to someone that does not qualify.

Don't you put on your listing "proof of funds, Preapproval or DA required before showings ? "  Same rules apply, you might not get away with asking for a bank statement, but you can ask them, before they walk in, "how will you purchase this place"


Recently I did a showing on a rental, When I asked the prospective tenant ( whom was with thier realtor ), what do you do for a living? his reply was ... " none of your business ", you know what I did. I told them that I was the listing realtor, and that his refusal to respond to my questions was grounds enought for me not showing it" took the key out of the lock and said "later". the other realtor laughed and said "c-ya". called later to say that it was the right thing to do.


Posted by Michael Rasch, Michael Rasch 305-741-1819 (Florida Home Sales and Investments ) almost 5 years ago

Of course, it would be simple to just agree with you, but pluralism encourages optional opinions.

I am attending many Open Houses as a Mortgage Broker, which is my career after my career. Having been in Sales for all of my life, I have been watching real-estate agents and their common mistakes.

Although, Open House would suggest anybody should just walk in and kick the tires, I am of the conviction that anybody elbowing their way past me without acknowledgeing me as their host and displaying common courtesy, needs to be stopped right there. Why not asking them a few qualification questions. If there just there to browse and look, I would be careful. 

Very often, and particularly younger and new to the real-estate business colleagues of mine, just rattle off the features of the home. Many times the responses is that the subject property is not perfect. --- Lets ask the visitor for the reason, and right away, what they are looking for. We are in Sales not passing time on a weekend in someone else's home. Lets ask what their requirements are and then sell them accordingly or  at a minimum suggest other properties. 

If I were a client, I would value the interaction with a professional, who can tell me about options, make suggestions or highlight the features of the subject property, over having some desperate and way too kind agent rattle off the feature sheet. 

Selling begins with asking questions, if they do not want to interact with you, they have no business in that house.

My humble opionion after spending 30 years in Sales in various industries.

Posted by Franz Gerber, Yaletown Mortgage Loans (Yaletown Mortgage Loans) almost 5 years ago

Great post and I couldn't agree more!  So many agents have the misconception that homes don't sell at open houses and that is wrong!  I have a home under contract right now that was sold during my open house, the buyers came to view it the first weekend it was on the market, loved the house so much they left to get their agent and came back with an offer.  I did an open house 2 months ago where the same thing happened.  An agent called me ahead to time to let me know his buyers will be coming to my open house,  the nice young couple loved the house so much that I had an offer in my inbox before I was even finished with the open house.

Posted by Melissa Stone, Sparkling Gulf Coast From Tampa to Clearwater (Lipply Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

Well this post certainly got a lot of comments in all directions! I do open houses for the sellers and to gather  new clients if they should walk in the door and not have a buyers agency agreement.   I also hope that some neighborhood noseys  come by and perhaps turn into sellers in the future. I am up for creating a relationship with anyone and everyone that walks in the door.

Posted by Dagny Eason, Fairfield County CT, CDPE Homes For Sale and Condo (Dagny's Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

Are Open Houses an antiquated practice left over from pre-Internet days?  Why can't a qualified buyer contact the listing agent or their agent to schedule a time to see the home?  My job is NOT to open the door for anyone who wants to walk in off the street, that is NOT protecting my clients best interests.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) almost 5 years ago

Hi again, Mike and Eva.

   You certainly started a firestorm with this topic.  And that's what a blog should do - create a lively discussion.  

   Way to go!  

Posted by Fred Griffin, on leave of absence from ActiveRain, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker (Fred Griffin Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

Provocative and compelling comments but instead of adding anymore to the post, I'll also defer my opinions like Pat and Wayne Harriman, #49.

However, when you visualize or don't expect conversions (sales), you won't get conversions (sales). I expect everybody to purchase from me if they are qualified to own what I'm selling, so I sort out the serious from the curious before I even begin the conversion process by asking questions. 

Posted by Kimo Jarrett, Pro Lifestyle Solutions (WikiWiki Realty) almost 5 years ago

the most annoying thing to me is when the host agent sits on the cell during the open house

Posted by Paddy Deighan JD PhD, Paddy Deighan J.D. Ph.D (TimeshareLawyers.pro) almost 5 years ago

John:  Recharging is always good.

Keith:  Appreciate it

Marilyn: I think I had a buy "forget" my name once...

Jackie: Smart thinking and marketing

Patrick:  you are for sure one of a kind agent...good job.

Sherri: whatever works for you is what you need to do

Posted by Eve Alexander, Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers (Buyers Broker of Florida ) almost 5 years ago

Fred:  I respectfully disagree...

1.  If a person comes into "your" open house and they have a BUYER AGREEMENT with another agent you do not have the right to write an offer for that buyer.  You would be:

  • Violating the code of ethics for interfering in an agency relationship
  • Violating the law for tortious interference in an contractual relationship

A "listed" buyer falls under the same rules as a "listed" seller

If this property is in MLS and are offering a co-op fee you cannot pick and choose who you wish to pay commission to.  If however this is unlisted, than you do not have to pay anyone a commission, but you still have to "cooperate" under the code of ethics. 

Commission and cooperation are two different things and not interchangable.

Posted by Eve Alexander, Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers (Buyers Broker of Florida ) almost 5 years ago

Wow, everybody has their own thoughts on marketing open houses. Interested in seeing more comments...

Posted by David Demangos, REALTOR (Keller Williams Realty Carmel Valley / Del Mar) almost 5 years ago

Michael R: After reading your long comment, I am worn out, but I am grateful that you love buyer agents.

Franz:  Selling is making friends with a prospect in a non-salesy way.  I think people will sell more if they stop trying so hard.

Kathy:  Way to go!

Tony:  Are we on the same blog?

Angela:  No I don't think it is a good idea for any agent to try to siphone buyers from someone else's open house. Sounds desperate.

Tammy:  I don't know about Georgia, but in Florida a listing agent owes commission to agents of any board there is a recripracol with.  Shocking to most.

MaryBeth:  Regardless of what state you are in, the code of ethics does not change. No, she cannot set her own rules.

Art:  You are right,  I never "sell" anything.  I help buyers "buy" to make smart investments.

Pat and Wayne:  Thank you

Diana:  The key is unrepresented

Rocky:  Exclusive Buyers Agents never represent sellers.


Posted by Eve Alexander, Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers (Buyers Broker of Florida ) almost 5 years ago

Mike & Eve Alexander quite a few interesting points on several sides of the issue. Isn't it great to live in a free country? Relatively free anyway.

Posted by Wayne Johnson, San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale (Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS®) almost 5 years ago

Thanks for the post but I totally disagree with not having a sign in sheet. For numerous reasons. Mainly, being it is a safety issue...representing a seller also includes making sure that your client is safe and secure and by not having a sign in sheet they have no  idea who is entering their home or scoping out the place to return later. We have no idea if their interest is even buying a home...I feel that in addition to a sign in sheet we should also request/require identification. I personally think all sellers would feel a lot more comfortable opening up thier home to complete strangers if they knew who was coming in and if they were ready and able buyers. A sign in sheet is critical for this reason. If you happen to pick up buyers doing this, hey all the better! 

Posted by Amy Pramagioulis (RE/MAX Commonwealth) almost 5 years ago

Hmmmmm...so many in disagreement. I had to go back and re-read your blog to see what the problems were. I guess 3,4 & 5 are the main points of contention but, personally, I have no problem with any of your suggestions. I don't often hold open houses but when I did I treated visitors as I would wish to be treated, make them feel comfortable, and behave ethically. I think that's what your getting at?

Posted by Dave Hymes (RE/MAX Gold) almost 5 years ago

Not having a sign-in sheet at an open house is totaly foolish and irresponsible. For protection of your client's property and for the safety of female agents holding an open house, a sign-in sheet is a must. If I had an agent hold an open house and found out the agent didn't even ask for their visitors names and numbers I'd fire that agent immediately.

Posted by Peter Pappas almost 5 years ago

I am of the opinion that you can be as snarky as you want when you are correct. But much of this is opinion, and not canonical. While I am no fan of open houses, I can ask, on behalf of my client, *anything* that relates to the consumer's capacity to purchase the property. That is my job. The idea that only a fiduciary can inquire about such things is categorical nonsense. 

These people are literally going to open my client's medicine cabinets. I'm not going to stand there like some doofus on the posibility that they might be someone else's client, and I am sure going to have a sign in sheet because that's the right thing to do. I am going to do what I was hired to do, whch is represent the seller's interests to the best of my ability. 

Posted by J. Philip Faranda, Broker-Owner (J. Philip Faranda (J. Philip R.E. LLC) Westchester County NY) almost 5 years ago

Wow, this article stirred up a lot of comments!  I have a friend in Orlando.  He is or was the senior Pastor of Orlando Baptist Church.  Haven't talked to him in a few years.

Posted by Bruce Hicks, Your Lifetime Friend/Helper! (Best Homes Hawaii) almost 5 years ago

I've done alot of business from open houses this past year. If i never asked them any questions they would have gone on the next agent

Posted by ruth sewart almost 5 years ago

Maybe it is only in Massachusetts but we all have to exercise extreme care in how we ask questions of visitors to our open houses.

Please take a moment to read this article:http://massrealestatelawblog.com/2014/01/26/asking-where-are-you-from-results-in-60000-discrimination-penalty/

the topic of this law suit revolves around a simple question from the listing agent of the property to the prospective occupant

Asking “Where Are You From?” Results In $60,000 Rental Discrimination Penalty

This has certainly curtailed much general conversation at open houses as well.

Although it has not come up could asking a party for their name and contact information be seen as similar to this - might you discriminate against a buyer for a home because you had negative feelings about where they are coming from?

I try to remind new agents who may have some preconcieved notions about certain communities that is never matters where the prospective is coming from it is only important to us as to where they are going to!

Your thoughts???

Posted by MaryBeth Mills Muldowney, Massachusetts Broker Owner (TradeWinds Realty Group LLC) almost 5 years ago

Touchy subject, huh? Either you have a client or you don't. And sometimes you find out later you don't. Not an easy business.

Posted by Jim Harper (Atlanta Communities Real Estate ) almost 5 years ago

No comment. No, wait. 

I think Open Houses are for those that it works for. In some markets, it works. In others, it's a total waste of time of the agent and puts the Seller's home at risk of one of those "buyers" casing the home for a return, un-invited visit. (if you get my drift)

I've had an agent showing in a condo building stop at my open house. It was her and her buyer that bought it. Was it because I had an Open House? She didn't have my listing on her showing list. 

Let's agree to disagree on whether Open Houses are a useful tool or not. And that is left up to the agent and the market place that work in. It's not for anyone of us to say yes, no, old school, bad idea. 

Posted by Thom Abbott, Midtown Atlanta GA Condos For Sale (MyMidtownMojo.com |770.713.1505 | Intown Atlanta GA Condo Living) almost 5 years ago

Love the variety of comments here. You really started something with this post. 

Posted by Marte Cliff, Your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) almost 5 years ago

I feel that open houses are not effective in my market, unless you are an agent attempting to build your database of buyers.  However, it is your responsiblilty as a listing agent, to make sure you know and ask pertinent questions of the guests to protect your client's interest.  Sign in sheets should be required if your client requests them... they should not be used as a follow up tool to build the agent's database.  If more sellers knew that open houses are mostly used to benefit the agent, then many sellers would not want them as a marketing tool. 

My advice is to not hold open houses, focus on where buyers are, build a database, and prospect FSBO's on Sunday, by visiting their open house. 


Posted by Bob McTague, Syracuse New York Real Estate (RealtyUSA) almost 5 years ago

Whew!!!!  This is why I'm not a Realtor/Broker. I'm staying in "my niche" as a home stager, which is my passion.  My utmost desire is to help the Realtor/Broker and Homeowner get their listing/property sold quickly and for top dollar by my staging it. I love to go to Open Houses to see how the layout of the house is, if it's been staged or not, and especially to meet and talk with the Realtor/Broker who is hosting the Open House. Yes . . . it's a marketing event for me and I've received staging business from these visits along with meeting some fantastic Realtors/Brokers! I had no idea about all of this protocol that you all have to go through. I do like the idea, though, for safety reasons, that everyone should sign in. One time I went to an Open House where the Realtor/Broker was a female and she was alone. A strange guy entered soon after I did. I didn't have a good feeling about this guy so I stayed until he left. I think there should be a "buddy system" when a female holds an Open House!

Bless ALL of you in your real estate endeavors -- and use an ASP stager in your area for your listings! Hey, maybe your stager would come help you with the Open Houses (if that's allowed). I know I would. 

Posted by Virginia Youngblood, DO-STAGE! LLC - Home Stager - ASPM® (DO-STAGE! LLC - an ASPM® Home Staging Company) almost 5 years ago

Open houses are an opportunity to showcase a property, meet neighbors, gain insider information about a neighborhood, and meet potential buyers and sellers.  I have a sign-up sheet and invite people to sign, if they desire additional information. Many visitors are happy to sign with their real names. Being friendly and providing information generally results in some type of continuing relationship with visitors.

Posted by Sharon Parisi, Dallas Homes (United Real Estate Dallas ) almost 5 years ago

Well, I've had my morning's read with this one post and the comments. What a variety of opinions.

Open houses work in my area. My duty is first to my seller-sell the house.

We don't use buyer-broker agreements in my area, but if a person is interested in the house, I'll ask if they have an agent and offer to keep that agent informed about offer dates, etc. If they don't, I offer to refer them to one of my colleagues for representation.

If I pick up a buyer to work with on another property, that's gravy (and I have.)

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) almost 5 years ago

Enjoyed everyones view on Open Houses.  The key is to treat everyone respectfully.  You are not going to convert all of them but if you treat them professionally they may remember you and call upon you when it is their time.

Posted by Rose Mary Justice, Synergy Realty Pros (Synergy Realty Pros) almost 5 years ago

Everyone is entitled to their opinions; thank goodness we have that privilege here in the good old U.S.A.
Some very good suggestions from so many; this is what keeps this blog real.
Go out and sell something now.

Posted by Gene Fitzpatrick almost 5 years ago

Drick:  Thank you for reading it.

Ben: A Buyer agency agreement is just like a seller listing agreement...it is not easy to get out of and it means something.

Dianne: I like your idea of a gift:  something for something

Theresa:  You sound like a smart lady and a good realtor

Norma:  I think you missed parts of my blog

Posted by Eve Alexander, Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers (Buyers Broker of Florida ) almost 5 years ago

Michael R (again) I think you are operating on a slippery slope, my friend.  Wait till you deny access to the wrong person and Fair Housing knocks on your door for discrimination.

Posted by Eve Alexander, Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers (Buyers Broker of Florida ) almost 5 years ago

Melissa:  Good for you.

Dagney:  Yes, the key is knowing where the boundaries are.

Cindy:  A good reason not to do open house

Kimo:  I will explain

Paddy:  You are correct, that is plain rude for anyone to do that.

David:  Have fun with it

Wayne:  For sure, freedom is everything

Amy:  Safety is always important so it is best to have 2 people.

Dave:  Yes, and thank you for reading it clearly

Peter:  unless an agent verifies an ID a sign in sheet is no protection

Posted by Eve Alexander, Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers (Buyers Broker of Florida ) almost 5 years ago


When a buyer comes to an open house, they are simply a customer as there is no established relationship.  Right then, they are just a looker.

Consumers ( buyers and sellers) are either customers or clients depending upon the relationship or lack of relationship. They both come with different rules and boundaries.

The code of ethics requires that there be a meaningful (clear understanding) disclosure as to who that agent represents BEFORE ELICITING CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION  LIKE FINANCING. When the buyer enters the open house it is both pre-mature and unnecessary to disclose financial information to anyone..and a "real"disclosure at that time is not what the agent chooses to do.

If however after viewing the property, the unrepresented buyer wants to make a offer, the broker can give them a proper disclosure (who the agent represents) so that buyer can make an informed decision.

Buyer can then either go find an agent to represent them or they can chooose to work through the listing agent and open up about whats in their wallet

Non disclosure to the buyer could be viewed as misleading or unfair advantage, particularly since it the the agents job to tell their seller everything about the buyer, which could work against them.

While I am not an attorney, I have been recognized by the courts as an agency expert/witness on broker duties.


Ps :  Rude buyers digging in medicine cabinets has NOTHING to do with being  someone's client...who said it did?

Posted by Eve Alexander, Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers (Buyers Broker of Florida ) almost 5 years ago

Interesting blog & ensuing comments.     Interesting how, even though you used the words "consider" and "try," many readers got pretty riled up about it.

Posted by M.C. Dwyer, Santa Cruz Mountains Property Specialist (Century 21 Showcase REALTORs) almost 5 years ago

All points you've made are well taken. The problem is that too many agents hold open houses to "snag" a buyer and so they approach the process in the wrong way.

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage ) almost 5 years ago

An Open House is nothing more than a fishing expedition for the listing agent to get another buyer on the hook.  "Hey don't like this home . . . there's three more up the street that you might like."  Anyone that tells you otherwise is not being honest.  Any listing agent who has print-outs of the listing sheets of homes for sale in the area at the Open House, and hands them to a customer/consumer is violating their fiduciary duty to their client, the sellers. If the listing agent asks "Hey, want to see other properties for sale on my IPhone" hmmmmmm . . . The fiduciary duty of LOYALTY!  There is no loyalty to the sellers if their listing agent is in their home promoting / marketing / distributing information of a competitor, or in-house listing to a consumer/buyer in the sellers' private residence.  Oh, like that never happens!  Agents do not understand THE LAW OF AGENCY -- and when I read these comments, I know which ones need to be enlightened.  

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) almost 5 years ago

Obviously, there lots of valid points of view.

I am of the opinion that while one should welcome the visitor stopping in to look at the open house, one should also be concerned about the Seller's best interest. If a misbehaving child is misbehaving, I will tell the parent that if this where their house, they would not appreciate a child doing whatever the child is doing, on the other hand, I do inquire what the person's motive for stopping at the open house is. That tells me everything I need to know as to how that particular situation needs to be treated. There are many ways one can do this. Here are some examples of phrases I have used:

*"It is hot outside, what made you want to get out of your come and come take a peek?"

*"Most people would prefer to be at home watching ______. What made you decide to take the time to stop in and poke around today?"

*"This house wears a sign that says "I am so pretty, stop and take a look" was that the reason you stopped in today, or did you have another objective?"

Tommy Hopkins was an real estate instructor early in my career. He believed that it is not what one says, but how one says it that makes all the difference in how the statement is perceived and received.

Posted by Nora Sims, helping folks like you since 1978! (Northern Shadows Realty, Inc.) almost 5 years ago

My friend Ann goes out to breakfast every Sunday morning with her retired friends.  At around noon time they hit the Open House circuit.  None of them are in the market to buy a home, it's just something that they enjoy doing together.

I find it to be a charming way for them to spend their Sunday afternoons, and think of them when I'm doing an Open House. As they say in sports, "no harm, no foul."  It's opening the home for public viewing, and feel free to sign in.

Posted by Dan Derito (Success! Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

Thank you for saying what needed to be said.  An Open House is just that an Open House!  Congratulations on the feature.

Posted by Anna Hatridge, Missouri Realtor with Goodson Realty (Goodson Realty) almost 5 years ago

#6 is the one the dishonest agents use and it is seriously hurting our business in SoCal.

Posted by Fred Van Allen Lincoln Park Pomona Real Estate, Green, Classic Architecture and Vintage Homes (First Team Real Estate CHRISTIE'S) almost 5 years ago

Hi Mike & Eve,

You have certainly stirred the pot with this one.  One commentor mentioned that this is a tough business and with that I think we can all agree.  In most situations, I prefer that buyers be represented by their own agent.  When I hold an open house, it is to expose the listing further to unrepresented buyers and to represented buyers.  What I find frustrating are all the bad feelings between agents about "poaching buyers," when they have not educated their buyers or protected their relationship with their buyers. 

I explain agency and how agents are compensated before showing any buyer I meet at an open house any additional listings and also when discussions turn serious, and I do the same thing for prospects from a sign call.  Just walking through the door during an open house does not make a person my client.

However, in my experience, buyers want what they want when they want it and also because most agents do not bother to get an exclusive buyer's agency signed, buyers will sometimes use another agent... not necessarily because that other agent lured them away but because they wanted service on demand and received it.  That simple.  I know it is painful to realize that people are not always loyal in this context -- but it is the truth.  It is also painful to realize that taking a vacation may cost you a $15,000 commission -- but that is also the truth for an agent who provides no service to clients during a period of absence and has no contractual relationship with a buyer.

Uncommitted buyers understand that there is no consequence in most situations to telling an agent that they have no agent so they can look at a few homes while their real agent is on vacation or unavailable.  And if they are shown a home they like, they may just sit down and write an offer that day with that agent because they want that home and they do not want to wait.  Or they feel that they truly have not committed to using one particular agent or another.  Our industry encourages this behavior (at least in California).  As real estate agents in this type of environment, we should protect our client relationship, properly educate our clients about agency, and about how to tour an open house.  These are basic things.

I do not have a sign in sheet, I do not atempt to get every buyer prequalified on the spot, and I have NEVER told a buyer that they can only submit an offer through me.   It is an open house.  Nonetheless, there will always be some agent who feels their "client" was stolen away at one of these events.  The flip side of this of course is that just because you met with someone once and sent them some listings online does not make them your client either, and if they come to an open house and say they have no agent, or haven't decided who they want to use to purchase -- yes they may get "poached," as some term it.  Newsflash -- not every client will call you to tell you that they won't being using you to purchase, or they won't call you to tell you that until they have secured another agent that they prefer to use.

Consumers get to decide who they want to represent them and in most cases they do exactly that and/or they are of the opinion that representation by a real estate agent is irrelevant.  While we may not like that, we certainly have the ability to control how we do business so that we are spending our time with people who want us to represent them, and I also believe we could change this for our entire industry as well and until we do... be prepared to continue to have your feathers ruffled.  That simple.

Just my thoughts,



Posted by Tni LeBlanc, Realtor®, J.D., Tenacious Tni (805) 878-9879 (Mint Properties, Lic. #01871795) almost 5 years ago

Ruth Stewart:  Its not that you can't ask questions, it that asking about their financing is inappropriate.

Mary Beth Mills Muldowney: It sounds like you are on top of things and so correct in your assessment.

Jim Harper: Everyone should know if they have a client or customer.  Without a written agreement, it is just a customer.

Thom Abbott:  Who said open house was a bad idea?

Marte Cliff: Yes, lots of comments that do not understand where their loyalty is supposed to be.

Bob McTague:  Glad that works for you.

Virginia Youndblood:  I love to see staging in a home.

Sharon Parisi:  Being friendly and offering information is the key

Lottie Kendall:  You are one of the few that know where their allegiance lies.  Good for you!

Rose Mary Justice:  You are right. If you pressure them, they will loose your business card.

Gene Fitzpatrick:  "Or "help" someone.

MC Dwyer: Thank you so much for noticing.

Nina Hollander:  That is exactly what I was trying to say.

Carla-Muss Jacobs: You are  the only one who has mentioned "LOYALTY" to the seller as a priority.  Please write a blog on "law of agency"  something that everyone should know but don't have a clue.

Nora Sims:  Great suggestions and I noticed that "how much you want to spend" is not on your list of questions.  Good Job.

Anna Hatridge:  Thank you.

Fred Van Allen:  Yes, #6 the most egregious one.

Posted by Eve Alexander, Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers (Buyers Broker of Florida ) almost 5 years ago

Tni LeBlanc:  You said: "Just walking through the door during an open house does not make a person my client"  Finally someone gets it.  I guess only law school teaches the law of agency...or maybe that is the only place where students pay attention.

You also said that you do not have a sign in sheet...something that many mistakenly believe keeps them safe.  That was bold, thank you.

I also agree with your analysis of buyer behavior.  The reason that agents do not explain "agency" to buyers is because they themselves do not understand agency.

My clients work under an exclusive buyer contract with our office, but despite that, I have found that Open house agents still think that all buyer belong to them...they don't.

I have even had open house agents tell my clients that an "agency agreement" means NOTHING...that has happened more than once.

Thank you for the long and thoughtful comment.


Posted by Eve Alexander, Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers (Buyers Broker of Florida ) almost 5 years ago

I've decided that instead of a sign-in sheet, I like a little stack of 3 x 5 cards.  If someone is interested, they can write their contact info on a card, then I tuck the card safely away out of sight.  That way its hidden from the prying eyes of anyone else that might walk in the door.




Posted by Cheryl Johnson almost 5 years ago

Cheryl Johnson: Good idea to let the buyer decide instead of forcing them.

Posted by Eve Alexander, Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers (Buyers Broker of Florida ) almost 5 years ago


I started at comment #84 looks like I will have to come backlater to catch up on the rest.

Posted by Mark Artesani, Huntington & Newport Beach, Fountain Valley Homes (Keller Williams Realty) almost 5 years ago

Just this past week, someone I met at an open house several months ago contacted me!  I had followed up with them a few times but heard nothing--so backed off.  Love it when this happens!

Posted by Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR, Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes) almost 5 years ago

Great post on being an objective agent.  Too many times lookers are greeted with a plethora of questions, etc.  Best to hang out in the kitchen and ask if they noticed a certain feature after they return. Works for me!

Posted by Jan Green, HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN (Value Added Service, 602-620-2699) almost 5 years ago

Good tips all of them. I am ok with buyers at open houses having their own agent. Makes my job easier if they offer their agents name or card.

Posted by Liane Thomas -Top Listing Agent, Bringing you Home! (BROKER Allison James Estates & Homes BRE 01885684) almost 5 years ago

That is an interesting way to go about hosting.

Posted by Jeff Jensen (The Federal Savings Bank/Lending in 50 states) almost 5 years ago

Interesting topic and comments on this post. I do hold open houses, and I use an app in iPad for people coming to view the property. I explain that the seller would like to know who has been through their home, and I very rarely have someone refuse.

Posted by Sharon Paxson, Newport Beach Real Estate (Compass) almost 5 years ago

Hi Mike and Eve,

Great post!  Really excellent points regarding Open Houses.  

Posted by Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl, The Last Names You'll Ever Need in Real Estate (Samsel & Associates) almost 5 years ago

Mike and Eve, another great post! 

Oh, and stay out of the sellers' fridge!  Eat before you get to the Open House!

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

I just wonder why an agent would think someone walking through the door of an open house would be their buyer....real estate as a profession has progressed so much over the threshold rule implied of years ago.  Buyers and Sellers are consumers and entitled to their respective relationships with professionals they choose to do business with.

Posted by MaryBeth Mills Muldowney, Massachusetts Broker Owner (TradeWinds Realty Group LLC) almost 5 years ago

As a new agent I appreciate this post. Before getting into RE that is exactly what I thought an OH was - anyone could take a look..its open to the public. But now in my trainings I hear a lot about how you do it to get buyers, etc.

Posted by Danielle Cazeau (Realty Connect USA) almost 5 years ago

This was a wonderful read, glad I came across it in the archives. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Winston Heverly, GRI, ABR, SFR, CDPE, CIAS, PA (Winston Realty, Inc.) over 4 years ago

Mike & Eve Alexander 

 Lots of good content to read here.  I use an app on my iPad just because the seller has a right to know who came in their home. My app doesn't allow them to put in a bogus email either. Thanks for sharing. It seems like there are two types of agents: 1) Agents who love Open Houses 2) Agents who never do them and think they are a waste of time.

Posted by Kristin Hamilton CA Realtor, (909) 557-6966- Specialize 55+ Communties Banning (Sun Lakes Realty) about 4 years ago

These are all great points that an Agent with Integrity would understand and agree too.

Posted by Evelyn Johnston, The People You Know, Like and Trust! (Friends & Neighbors Real Estate) about 4 years ago