Open house-ing has long been a hobby for housing market watchers and nosey neighbours alike. In fact, it was the thing to do on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Pile into the car and drive around in search of those “open house” sandwich signs lining the sidewalks. then, COVID-19 changes everything, including the way people shop for homes. These days, due to convenience and most recently, safety measures, virtual tours and scheduled showings have been the only way to view listings in person for the better part of the last 18 months. Now, with vaccination numbers rising and COVID case numbers trending downward, restrictions are lifting and in some provinces, open houses are back on the table. But before you run for the door (masked, of course!) here’s a quick open house etiquette refresher to keep in mind. And remember: until closing, you’re a guest in someone else’s home. Treat it with the same respect you’d expect your own home.

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Open house doesn’t mean all-access.

If you come across rooms with closed doors, always check with the listing agent before entering. You’re there to tour the home and yes, that includes the closets, cabinets and cupboards. Before you open, ask.

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Wait your turn.

Warm weather, “hot” neighbourhoods and Open House signs are a recipe for market activity. If someone’s in a room, allow them the chance to tour and exit before you pile in. Get in, take a look around, and get out.

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Photo opp!

Always ask permission before shooting photos or video at an open house. This is still someone else’s home, so respect their privacy. If you’ve been given the green light to take photos, snap away. But remember, these are for personal reference only.

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Stay off the furniture.

You’re there to tour the home, not take five on the couch. Some homes have been staged with rented or even “fake” furniture, for appearance’s sake. ” Unless you’ve been expressly invited to sit, don’t.

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Take your critiques outside.

There will likely be things you like and dislike about the house. That goes without saying. What should also go without saying, is criticism. Remember, this is still someone’s home and you don’t want to risk offending anyone – especially if you’re interested in making an offer. You never know who’s listening.

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Be polite.

“Please,” “thank you,” “hello,” and “good-bye” goes a long way. At the end of it all, follow the Golden Rule – treat others (and their homes!) the way you’d want to be treated.