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Open house or house party?

By Alexandra Craig - 10 February 2015 18

house-stock-roof

At least once in your life you’ve probably been to an open home. Whether you’re looking for a rental property or to make more of a long term commitment and buy a property, an open home is always involved.

I used to feel a bit awkward going to them, especially if the owner or tenant was still living there. I don’t feel right tiptoeing around someone’s house when they don’t know me and I don’t know them. But now that I’m looking to buy a property, I’ve been to a bazillion open homes and the awkwardness is gone. I’m there to sus out whether I want to drop a lot of money down so I tend to pay attention rather than spend my time feeling awkward.

When I’m at a house for sale I take photos, I write things down, I talk to the agent, I google on my phone while I’m there and do as much research on the house as I can. I’ve started to notice, however, that I am one of a few. I can be at an open house with 30 other people and maybe only five of us appear to be taking a serious interest in the property. So what are the other 25 people doing?

Snooping. People are at these open homes to have a good old sticky beak through someone else’s house. I spoke to a couple of real estate agents I know and apparently this is quite common. People are really that bored with their lives that they have to go through houses on the weekend.

Personally, I find all these people incredibly frustrating and rude. I’m there as a serious buyer and there’s all these clowns getting in my way, standing around talking, and even sitting on lounges or at the table! Pretty sure in most cases the house doesn’t come with the furniture.

I’ve noticed that there are fewer people at open homes when the property photos online show an empty house, no furniture, no photos on the walls and so on. There are usually only about seven or eight people. When I go to an open house that’s still got someone living in it, it’s like a house party. Everyone wants in on it.

At a previous rental property I lived in, the owner wanted to sell so I decided to cut my losses and move out as soon as possible. The real estate agent wanted to have an open house every Saturday at 8.00am, as well as several private viewings during the week. I flat out refused the private viewings unless they worked around me so I could be there. I didn’t feel comfortable letting people I didn’t know into my house while all my stuff was there, as well as my cat. I know it sounds silly but she is a very anxious cat and I didn’t want her escaping out the door. Now that I’ve been going to open homes regularly, I’m very relieved I didn’t allow people through my house without my presence.

What’s the appeal in having a snoop when you have no interest in buying the property? I don’t go to open homes I’m not interested in because it’s a waste of time. Are people really bored or are they just super nosy and intrusive?

What’s Your opinion?


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18 Responses to
Open house or house party?
taninaus 1:58 pm 11 Feb 15

tooltime said :

A good agent never does open houses, they screen buyers before showing properties. From property guru Neil Jenman:

“Do you ever leave your front door open and allow strangers to wander through your home? Of course not. It would be madness. Anyone might come through.

This is exactly what happens when your agent holds your home open for inspection. Anyone is invited to just march up to your front door and wander through your home. They walk through your lounge room, they go into your bedrooms and they open cupboards. Total strangers intruding into the heart of your personal world. This is very dangerous.
.

Although what Jenman says is relevant it isn’t the total picture. Open houses are a risk and shouldn’t be overused, however I don’t want agents pestering me about houses I have no interest in and an open house is a quick and easy way for me to rule a house in or out of my shortlist – so I like them. I can then make a private appointment with the agent if I want a better look without the crowd.

for tenants it is painful as they have no investment in the process and it can be disruptive. I always ask my agents to be respectful and reasonable with the tenants while trying to sell as I don’t want a good tenant to leave either.

I have sold through a Jenman recognised company and as nice as the agent was I wouldn’t choose that method again – it severely limits the number of interested people in the property and I found I didn’t get as much competativeness between buyers, resulting in low ball offers. The next sale 6 months later was a much better price point for exactly the same property with a different agent in a similar market – which means either my sales person was hopeless or the lack of open showing of the house affected the final sale price. Not scientific proof in any way as just one example but I wouldn’t use the non-open house method again.

tooltime 9:24 am 11 Feb 15

A good agent never does open houses, they screen buyers before showing properties. From property guru Neil Jenman:

“Do you ever leave your front door open and allow strangers to wander through your home? Of course not. It would be madness. Anyone might come through.

This is exactly what happens when your agent holds your home open for inspection. Anyone is invited to just march up to your front door and wander through your home. They walk through your lounge room, they go into your bedrooms and they open cupboards. Total strangers intruding into the heart of your personal world. This is very dangerous.

Your local video store will not rent a $10 movie without identification, yet all over Australia, anyone can walk into any family home and agents barely notice. Agents will even tell complete strangers how alarm systems operate.

Just because your home is for sale, it doesn’t mean you have to place your safety at risk. It is your home. You have a right to know who enters it.

When selling, the only people who should inspect your home are people who are likely to buy it. You want buyers, not burglars. And the only way to know if a person is a buyer or a burglar is to identify them before they enter your home. It is very hard to do this with a sign on the street saying “Open For Inspection”.

Do not underestimate how serious this is. Neighbourhood Watch advise, “When your home is open for inspection, your valuables, are also open for inspection.”

Ask at your local Police Station or ask your insurance company. They know the dangers, that is why your home is usually not insured when open for inspection.”

Theres been a few enterprising criminal gangs in Sydney doing the rounds of open homes. Artwork, jewelry, even clothing disappearing – and the police can’t do a thing about this type of theft. If you must have an open house, check with your insurer if your contents policy covers this situation.

rosscoact 9:42 pm 10 Feb 15

Worst thing is when they take away the toilet brushes, I guess they are hoping to make the place look more Vogue. Unfortunately, well, you know where this is heading

thisisme 7:34 pm 10 Feb 15

Its slightly off topic, but wondering if you are selling your property (or are unlucky enough to be a tenant subjected to endless invasive open houses and freaked out by creepy creeps) is it legal to have cameras filming people? Im guessing its not. But if others can come through your house unaccompanied and without showing id surely its some protection?

Maya123 7:03 pm 10 Feb 15

I should have said in my last entry, that when I bought my first house, I walked through the house, looked outside and then turned to the owners and said, “I’ll take this, as long as the building inspection comes back okay.” My decision was made in less than half an hour.
My second house was bought at auction. I probably looked at it a couple of times, decided it suited the purpose (good land orientation for future redevelopment, no large trees on the neighbouring northern block, etc and suitable to rent meanwhile). The house passed a building inspection and I turned up at auction and purchased it.

Maya123 6:57 pm 10 Feb 15

I’ve never taken photographs when looking at a house with intentions to buy, but I do check out things that effect the energy efficiency of a house, starting with a compass to find the house’s/block of land’s orientation. I actually like empty houses, because I can better imagine how colours and furniture and other decor will fit. But talking to an agent once, apparently many people lack this ability. An empty house also reveals defects better.

rosscoact 4:29 pm 10 Feb 15

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

chewy14 said :

Reasons I’ve gone to open homes previously:

-crime

You like to steal the residents’ stuff?

Sweet, you can do that? I need a new lawnmower, open houses here I come

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 3:41 pm 10 Feb 15

chewy14 said :

Reasons I’ve gone to open homes previously:

-crime

You like to steal the residents’ stuff?

chewy14 3:27 pm 10 Feb 15

Reasons I’ve gone to open homes previously:
-Intention to buy
-market research
-interested in house, architecture, renovations, layout
-to see what improvements I could make on my own house
-checking out the neigbourhood
-crime
-purposely annoying real buyers

Alexandra Craig 3:11 pm 10 Feb 15

Grrrr said :

You might like to ask the agent’s permission before taking your own photos (especially of an occupied house) too. You are not on public property.

thisisme said :

Do you still take photo’s when viewing properties that are occupied? I ask because when I was renting, and the owner decided to sell, it was horrible having people wander freely around my home doing who knows what. They probably were taking photos. They were definitely opening cupboards and snooping – I came home one day after an open house to find all of my bedroom cupboards still open. It also looked as if someone had been sitting on my bed! Creepy much!? I understand why as a buyer its important to know what the inside of the cupboards look like, and how it would feel if the property was your home, but it felt like a pretty huge invasion of privacy. I hated looking at properties that were occupied because I know how the poor tenants/owner must feel. It just feels creepy and voyeuristic.

I should have mentioned this in the article – yes, I always ask permission to take photos. Even if the house is unoccupied – I guess it’s just the polite thing to do.

Re the cupboards – totally agree. I’d had about 4000 open homes on Saturday mornings and I was getting sick of them so I used to start following people around and shutting the cupboards behind them. Also turning all the lights off that they’d decided they needed to have on. It was probably a bit rude of me as a tenant but it was becoming unbearable the way people treated my house.

pajs said :

Once had open house in a place I was renting where the visitors helped themselves to the tomato patch, eating them as they wandered back into the house…

OMG! Hahahaha this actually is hilarious, but if it was my tomato patch I would have gone off my brain about it. That’s basically the same thing as opening the fridge and pouring a glass of milk. Soooo rude.

pajs 2:37 pm 10 Feb 15

Once had open house in a place I was renting where the visitors helped themselves to the tomato patch, eating them as they wandered back into the house…

thisisme 2:00 pm 10 Feb 15

Do you still take photo’s when viewing properties that are occupied? I ask because when I was renting, and the owner decided to sell, it was horrible having people wander freely around my home doing who knows what. They probably were taking photos. They were definitely opening cupboards and snooping – I came home one day after an open house to find all of my bedroom cupboards still open. It also looked as if someone had been sitting on my bed! Creepy much!? I understand why as a buyer its important to know what the inside of the cupboards look like, and how it would feel if the property was your home, but it felt like a pretty huge invasion of privacy. I hated looking at properties that were occupied because I know how the poor tenants/owner must feel. It just feels creepy and voyeuristic.

Grrrr 1:23 pm 10 Feb 15

The problem here all stems from the author being a Cat person. A dog person would be way less fussed by such things. 😉

.. But seriously. Just because the “other 25” don’t appear to be taking a serious interest doesn’t mean that they aren’t. Maybe they’ve already been to a previous opening of the same property, or are just having a quick scout before a more serious look at a later date. Maybe they’re not as motivated as you to buy – but that doesn’t mean that something about the house might not encourage them to.

Or maybe they’re selling or planning to sometime soon, and want to get a feel for the market.

Or maybe they’ve just taken an interest in the architecture. Maybe they own a similar house and are interested in the renovations the owner has done.

An Open home is what it is. If the vendor didn’t want it, they could have arranged private escorted visits with the agent for buyers who are determined to be serious. If you don’t like sharing an open-home with the plebs and you’re a serious buyer, maybe you could even convince the agent to give you a private showing.

You might like to ask the agent’s permission before taking your own photos (especially of an occupied house) too. You are not on public property.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 12:26 pm 10 Feb 15

Interesting.

I like property, and own a number of them, and when looking to buy I generally just have a walk through and don’t take notes or muck around on my phone. I’d never sit on someone’s furniture, though. It generally takes me about 10 minutes to decide whether I’ll make an offer.

People aren’t as interested in open homes that are empty because they lack aesthetic appeal. Yes, people really are that shallow when it comes to buying property. Empty property can be a good target for lowball offers, as there will be less interest, especially in a slow market like we have now.

PCB 12:21 pm 10 Feb 15

Comedy Gold!

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