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Ask McEnearney: What are some best practices when I attend an open house?

This week’s Q&A column is written by Sallie Seiy of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Sallie at 703-798-4666 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: I’m just starting to think about buying a house. Are open houses a good place to start? What are the best practices to attend an open house?

Answer: First off, congratulations on the early stages of home buying!

Attending open houses at the beginning stages of your search can really help you narrow (or expand) what and where you are looking to purchase. They allow you to tour new neighborhoods you’re considering, define your likes, dislikes and things that are non-negotiable, gauge market activity, and define a clear picture of home value.

Once you attend a couple of opens, you’ll be a pro. Here are a few tips to get you started on the right foot:

Do a little research first

Decide what neighborhoods you’re most interested in and find homes that match your ideal price point. Although it can be fun to see all types of homes ranging in all types of prices, it doesn’t assist you in the long term. You want to use this time to set your expectations for what’s in your budget and what you like and don’t like before you truly enter the market. By attending open houses in your preferred areas, you can gauge other buyer interest and overall value for that type of home/area. It’ll help down the line knowing if you’re in a competitive area and price point.

No scheduling necessary, but keep an eye on the time!

Open houses are usually Saturdays and Sundays from 12-4 p.m. with common time slots being 12-2 p.m., 1-3 p.m. and 2-4 p.m. If you have too many on your list in varying neighborhoods, you may miss some. In the early days of in-person open houses during the pandemic, there were lines out the door and people had to wait to enter homes. Now, it’s up to the seller and listing agent on how they manage open house traffic, so be prepared to potentially wait. The average time to tour through an open house is about 15 minutes.

Wear shoes that you can easily take on and off

Sellers typically ask those attending an open house or a private showing to remove their shoes or wear the provided shoe covers (also known as booties). It’s a common courtesy to the seller!

Follow the Golden Rule

Treat the home as you’d want your home to be treated. Limit touch and keep your hands to yourself with personal items. You can always ask the agent present to assist you with opening closed closet doors or kitchen drawers.

Sign in!

As a courtesy to the seller and the agent present, please remember to sign in as you enter the home. With the resurgence of QR codes, most agents will have a touch-free way for you to quickly sign in with your smartphone.

Ask questions!

The listing agent or their associate present will greet you at the door and provide you with fast facts about the open. Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions or inquire about the basic facts again. It’s why they are there!

If you are looking to start your home search, please give me a call!

As a fifth generation Realtor and the granddaughter of an architect and builder, Sallie has deep roots in real estate. She is passionate for the charm, history, and architecture of Alexandria and its surrounding communities. If you would like more information on selling or buying in today’s complex market, contact Sallie today at 703-798-4666 or visit her website

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703.549.9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

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