Should You Crash? Reddit Weighs In.

A popular thread on Reddit recently started when a Redditor wanted to know if it was okay to crash an open house when she knew she wasn't in the market to buy:

This is going to be a bizarre question. My 6 year old daughter LOVES houses (she comes by that honestly, so do her father and I). She loves going into strange homes, whether they are empty or have someone living there, it doesn't matter to her. We already own a home, but there have been TONS of open houses in our neighborhood lately, and she's been begging me to take her to one. I don't have a problem with it on the face of things. She's extraordinarily well behaved, knows not to run around and mess with things, good at conversing with adults. In other words, she would be very well behaved at an open house, most likely doling out compliments about things she likes about the house (seriously).

My "problem" is that I feel sort of bad attending an open house as a lookie loo. I know other people do this all the time, but hey, a lot of people are really rude and inconsiderate. I don't want to be one of them. Is there anyway I can fulfill my daughter's request to attend an open house without wasting anyone's time and/or coming across as obnoxious? I was thinking maybe just walk straight in and very directly state, "We live in the neighborhood and just wanted to take a peek out of curiosity. Please don't mind us." Would that be acceptable to a listing agent? Or would it be better to 'pretend' to be interested, and just try to get in and out quickly and not monopolize their time?

Almost any parent can understand the temptation of a free activity that keeps a child entertained, but most (decent) moms and dads don't want to infringe on someone else's time. So, what do you think about the open house issue? It's unlikely that a real estate agent will hate the idea of talking to more people. The nature of the job requires an extroverted personality, from lead chasing to house showing and negotiating, Realtors spend a lot of time talking to other people, and most of them like it. But they also want to sell houses, because that's how they get paid. When they host an open house, they'd love it if you walked in with a suitcase full of cash and bought the property on the spot. You probably aren't going to do that, so is it still okay to take a look around? Are lookie-loos welcome? 

We say go for it, with a few caveats.

  1. Respect the house. Both the agent and the homeowner want potential buyers to see the home in a positive light. Wipe your feet, don't break or spill anything, and don't let your kid run wild, which can keep other people from getting a good look at the home.
  2. Be honest. You have every right to be there, so don't make up a story to get the agent excited. "Yes, we are in the market, and we've had our eye on this place for years!" is the wrong thing to say, unless it's true. Try, "Would you mind if we took a look around? We live in the neighborhood and like knowing what else is out there."
  3. Spread the word. If you like what you see, tell a friend. Heck, post it on Facebook. Any agent should be happy for you to spread the news about the listing far and wide.
  4. Don't use the toilet. It's an open house, not a cocktail drop-in. Go before you get there, or wait until you leave.
  5. Chat with the agent, unless he's busy with other potential clients. Like we said, most agents are extroverts. They probably don't want to sit in silence.
  6. Let the agent know if you're already working with someone. Most agents have picked up a new client or two at an open house, and a good one will always be ready to start that conversation. If you're already working with someone, or if you know you would work with someone you already know, let the hosting agent know. "Hi! We'd love to take a look at the house if you don't mind." The agent will offer you a card. "I'm glad to take it, but we're already looking with So-and-So." Be polite about it.
  7. And if you don't already know an agent? Take the card, even if you aren't on the market. You never know. This could be the agent who'll find your dream home.
  8. You think the price is too high? Now is not the time to discuss it. Make an offer through your own agent, and see if they take it. It's not like the agent can make a deal with you right there, or change the price without the owner's permission.
  9. Get personal. Agents spend a lot of time making contacts that might not turn into referrals for years. They're used to it. Be respectful of their time, but don't feel like you're wasting theirs by asking a few questions. If the agent is knowledgeable and friendly, remember her name and share it with people.
  10. Say thank you when you leave. We know, your parents taught you that one. But "thank you" goes a long way, so don't forget.

What do you think? Would you go to an open house just to look? Any other tips for lookie-loos?