6 Things NOT To Ask At An Open House If You Have a Buyer Agent

Open houses provide an invaluable opportunity for prospective buyers to explore properties firsthand at your leisure.

Open houses are usually held on weekend afternoons, open to the public. Rather than private home tours, open houses give early home buyers the chance to explore neighborhoods and home features without “bugging” your agent over the weeks, months, or maybe years that it takes for you to discover the “perfect” home for you..

When you’re at an open house, it’s only natural to start asking the agent who’s holding the house open all the questions a buyer’s agent can (and should) answer.

Recently a home shopper who had his own agent asked me a few questions at a recent open house that inspired this blog post:

  • What’s the crime like here?
  • What’s the neighborhood like here?
  • How many disclosures have been downloaded?
  • How many offers are they expecting?
  • How much could this rent for?

There are things that a REALTOR® can’t answer, that the buyer needs to investigate to their own satisfaction — specifically related to fair housing and commentary on neighborhoods. “Rather than give out opinion-based information about a neighborhood or school, real estate professionals can ask their clients to define what they want and then provide the client with the reliable resources to help them make their own decisions.” (National Association of REALTORS®)

And if you have contracted with a buyers’ agent and are expecting to pay them, or they are being compensated from the transaction, you need to turn to them for expert advice.

I suggested to this open house visitor that there’s no substitute for driving around a neighborhood at different times of day and talking to neighbors. “That’s too much trouble,” he replied.

Too much trouble to make sure a huge investment is the right one for you?

What NOT to Ask an Agent At An Open House if You Already are working With a Buyer’s Agent

1. Don’t Ask For Negotiation Tactics

The agent hosting the open house represents the seller’s interests. Asking them about negotiation strategies or details about the seller’s motivations could potentially compromise your position. Your buyer agent is best equipped to handle these discussions on your behalf, ensuring that your interests are prioritized without inadvertently revealing sensitive information to the seller’s agent.

2. Don’t Ask About Contractual Matters

Avoid delving into specific contractual terms or conditions during an open house.

Questions about offer timelines, contingencies, or contract clauses are best discussed in private with your buyer agent. Open houses are generally not the appropriate setting for negotiating or finalizing contractual details, as they are typically more informal and geared towards showcasing the property — and because if you already have an agent, they have a fiduciary duty to serve you. The agent hosting the open house is not working for you and does not want to step on the feet of the agent who is.

3. Personal Financial Details

While it’s natural to be curious about competing offers or the seller’s expectations, don’t share specific financial information such as your budget, mortgage approval details, or your willingness to pay above a certain amount. These discussions are confidential and should be handled through your buyer agent to maintain your negotiating leverage.

4. Avoid Criticism or Negative Comments

Even if you have concerns or criticisms about the property, expressing them openly to the hosting agent can create unnecessary tension and potentially affect future negotiations. Instead, relay any feedback or questions about the property condition to your buyer agent, who can then address them appropriately with the seller’s agent at a more suitable time.

Many home owners have Ring cameras or other surveillance on site. If they happen to hear you criticizing them or the house, how likely will they be to accept your offer?

5. Skip Confidential Strategy Discussions

Avoid discussing your overall home-buying strategy or any sensitive information related to other properties you’re considering.

Open houses are public events, and conversations can be overheard. Save detailed strategy discussions for private consultations with your buyer agent to ensure your plans remain confidential and focused.

6. Asking for Excessive Details and About Why They’re Selling

While it’s acceptable to inquire about basic aspects of the property such as utilities, property taxes, or homeowners’ association fees, avoid asking for overly detailed information that may not be readily available or relevant at an open house. Save more in-depth inquiries about property history, renovation permits, or future development plans for follow-up discussions with your buyer agent.

“Why are they selling?” With all the data available to buyers, you may have seen the “last sold” price and date and be curious — especially to know if the seller is in distress and needs to sell quickly. Many sellers don’t want to reveal why they are selling. Leave it to your buyer agent to ask that question of the listing agent. Know that it might not be the full truth, and it doesn’t have to be.

A Buyer’s Agent Earns Their Commission As Your Fiduciary and Advisor

Hopefully this post gives some insights on the role of a home buyer agent and the work we do in the background after you’ve found a home you love.

When you have a Buyer Broker Agreement with another agend, depending on an open house agent for information the neighborhood, rental potential, and other factors that might lead to a decision is just not a great idea.

Remember, your buyer agent is your advocate and resource—leverage their expertise to navigate the complexities of real estate transactions with confidence.

Happy house hunting! (If you need an East Bay buyers agent, please take a look at how I work with clients.)

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