Etiquette for Agents holding open house

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Buyers Broker of Florida

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



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Anna Hatridge
Goodson Realty - Farmington, MO
Missouri Realtor with Goodson Realty

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

Oct 25, 2014 12:31 AM #98
Fred Van Allen Lincoln Park Pomona Real Estate
First Team Real Estate CHRISTIE'S - Pomona, CA
Green, Classic Architecture and Vintage Homes

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

Oct 25, 2014 09:03 AM #99
Tni LeBlanc, Realtor®, J.D.
Mint Properties, Lic. #01871795 - Santa Maria, CA
Tenacious Tni (805) 878-9879

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,



Oct 26, 2014 07:02 PM #100
Eve Alexander
Buyers Broker of Florida - Orlando, FL
Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers

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.

Oct 26, 2014 08:39 PM #101
Eve Alexander
Buyers Broker of Florida - Orlando, FL
Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers

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.


Oct 26, 2014 08:57 PM #102
Cheryl Johnson
Highland Park, CA

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.




Oct 26, 2014 09:09 PM #103
Eve Alexander
Buyers Broker of Florida - Orlando, FL
Exclusively Representing ONLY Orlando Home Buyers

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

Oct 26, 2014 10:10 PM #104
Mark Artesani
Keller Williams Realty - Fountain Valley, CA
Huntington & Newport Beach, Fountain Valley Homes


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

Oct 27, 2014 07:38 AM #105
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

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!

Oct 27, 2014 07:51 AM #106
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

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!

Oct 27, 2014 12:35 PM #107
Liane Thomas -Top Listing Agent
BROKER Allison James Estates & Homes BRE 01885684 - Corona, CA
Bringing you Home!

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.

Nov 03, 2014 04:31 AM #108
Jeff Jensen
The Federal Savings Bank/Lending in 50 states - Greenwich, CT

That is an interesting way to go about hosting.

Nov 03, 2014 06:56 AM #109
Sharon Paxson
Compass - Newport Beach, CA
Newport Beach Real Estate

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.

Nov 23, 2014 12:26 AM #110
Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl
Samsel & Associates - Clark, NJ
The Last Names You'll Ever Need in Real Estate

Hi Mike and Eve,

Great post!  Really excellent points regarding Open Houses.  

Nov 23, 2014 11:20 PM #111
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Mike and Eve, another great post! 

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

Nov 24, 2014 09:14 AM #112
MaryBeth Mills Muldowney
TradeWinds Realty Group LLC - Braintree, MA
Massachusetts Broker Owner

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.

Nov 24, 2014 12:19 PM #113
Danielle Cazeau
Realty Connect USA - Chinatown, NY

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.

Dec 03, 2014 01:26 AM #114
Winston Heverly
Winston Realty, Inc. - Atlantis, FL

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

Mar 30, 2015 01:15 PM #115
Kristin Hamilton CA Realtor
Sun Lakes Realty - Banning, CA
(909) 557-6966- Specialize 55+ Communties Banning

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.

Aug 03, 2015 07:58 AM #116
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

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

Sep 03, 2015 11:09 AM #117
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