Don't Believe Everything You Hear at an Open House

Real Estate Broker/Owner with HomeBuyer Brokerage

What To Know About an Open House

Last weekend, my client and I visited a property for sale during an open house. As is often the case, the agent who greeted us at the door was not the listing agent. She offered us freshly baked cookies and continued chatting with a few other guests.

Victoria Ray Henderson walking away from a bungalow style house

We walked through the dining area and onto a deck. The large backyard had a swing set and a large shed across the back of the property. Behind the shed and swing set, the land sloped downward toward a creek and trees. I looked over at the neighbors' yard and saw three big sheds lining the backyard. They were also built next to the creek. 

My client shook her head and said, "not for me'" and just then the agent came out to talk.

She said,

"The swing set and shed are built slightly on county land. But as you can see, the neighbors have three sheds on county land and the county hasn't said anything. So, it's not going to be a problem but I just wanted you to know."

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I told my client this was completely wrong. Just because the county hadn't fined the neighbors or the sellers didn't mean it was okay. In fact, building on county land is a violation and the fine can be as much as $10,000 if the structure is built on a riparian buffer. 

As we left the open house, I heard the agent repeating the story to other guests at the open house.

Fellow real estate agents, does this sound like a cautionary story we learn in our continuing education classes? 

Homebuyers, here are a few points to consider when attending an open house

  • The agent at the open house works for the seller. The brokerage has a signed agreement with the seller to get the best terms and price. Anything you say to this agent about you, the property, and your intentions will be shared with the seller. 
  • The agent at the open house may or may not have accurate information about the property. Either way, what is said doesn't matter. If you plan to make an offer review the disclosures and get everything in writing.
  • If you don't have an agent to represent you, do not ask the listing agent. See my first point and remember, you deserve full representation as a buyer. 

Open houses are fun and a great way to check out houses and neighborhoods. Ask questions and if you want to make an offer, contact an exclusive buyers agent or an agent from another brokerage.




Posted by

Victoria Lynne Henderson

Real estate broker and business owner of HomeBuyer Brokerage serving buyers in Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Victoria was born in Washington D.C. and loves her hometown!

Learn more about exclusive buyer brokers & agents at HomeBuyer Brokerage



Certified Negotiation Expert

Serving home buyers in Washington D.C., Maryland & Virginia 

Comments (14)

Bill Salvatore - East Valley
Arizona Elite Properties - Chandler, AZ
Realtor - 602-999-0952 / em:

 Hope you have a great HUMP DAY. thanks again for the blog, have a productive day and sell a house or two. bill

Mar 30, 2022 06:21 AM
Ben DeHaven
Haven Realty & Investments - Lakeland, FL
Proudly serving Winter Haven & Lakeland, Florida

I'd like to shorten this to "Don't believe everything you hear." It would save a lot of people!

Mar 30, 2022 06:25 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Victoria - open houses can be a very effective marketing strategy.  That doesn't mean everything shared during such an event is appropriate.   Or true.    

Mar 30, 2022 06:37 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Victoria- Can you imagine what would happen if a buyer decided to buy the house having taken into consideration what the agent said about the sheds!!!  Bring on the attorneys. 

Mar 31, 2022 12:36 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Apr 02, 2022 06:44 PM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi Victoria - it is wise to get you buyers agent first especially if tour a new construction office.

Apr 03, 2022 05:53 AM
Anna "Banana" Kruchten
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

Well that agent has a few lessons to learn Victoria!  Hopefully she does before she and her broker get sued.

Apr 03, 2022 09:54 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude


Such a good example of advice not to give. What a way to put yourself and your client at risk. And it's not just open houses you have to watch out for.


Apr 03, 2022 04:00 PM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

HI Victoria Ray Henderson - You share very wise words with your clients.  They are lucky to have you.

Apr 03, 2022 05:43 PM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Your title says it all!

Have a wonderful day.

Apr 04, 2022 05:07 AM
Ed Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Open houses can also be good for opening eyes and ears.  Not all the listing agent offers has value and in this case the value was very negative

Apr 06, 2022 05:25 AM
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

Let agent to get caught being ignorant.  Will not last long in the business.

Apr 06, 2022 08:28 AM
Jim Paulson
Progressive Realty (Boise Idaho) - Boise, ID

Great advice. 

I was at a brokerage meeting yesterday and a listing agent was sharing that another Realtor was at his open house very loudly claiming his clients were going to be submitting an offer $30k over list price.  He was trying to scare others away.  His offer never in at that level.

PS, I am anxious to be back in your area in August for a meeting.  I used to work in Tyson's Corner back in my corporate days before I became a Realtor here in Boise, Idaho.

Apr 06, 2022 08:34 AM
Victoria Ray Henderson

Hi Jim, thank you for commenting, and my apologies for responding so late! It's usually the exception when you come across a Realtor like the one you've described but they are out there! This area has really grown over the past several years. Traffic is a big factor so plan accordingly when you come out for your visit in August! Have a great Sunday and thanks again for commentin

May 08, 2022 06:01 AM
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Platinum - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Great post!  Thanks for sharing and enjoy your day!

Jan 22, 2023 07:25 AM