Open house inspection tips for buyers and sellers

woman styling her home before inspection

Jenna Meade

Posted February 07, 2022

Attending or prepping an open house? We’ve got you covered with etiquette to help make yourself or your potential buyers at home. 

Whether you’re on the hunt for your dream home or putting yours on the market, an open house is the best chance to showcase the sanctuary.

From perfecting first impressions and scrutinising without snooping, to playing nice and leaving the space sparkling, here’s our breakdown on how to behave - both as a buyer and seller.

Open house etiquette for buyers

Enter with care

Treat your visit as though you’re visiting a loved one. Be respectful by taking your shoes off at the door and make sure little ones follow your lead (if appropriate – think muddy shoes or gumboots). Wear or take clean socks with you, and leave your food and coffee in the car. There’s no need to knock, but be sure to let the agent know you’re there on arrival.

Be inquisitive, not impolite

Now is your time to ask the agent questions about the property. Discuss previous renovations, the owner’s reason for selling and any known issues with the home. It’s okay to ask if there are any offers, and it can be helpful to ask their opinion of the neighbourhood and nearby schools. Be sure to get the agent’s best contact details for any questions that arise following the open house. 

Feel it out 

Make yourself at home, respectfully. You’re welcome to open cupboards, look for leaks or squeaks and turn on taps to check the water pressure. But no snooping - you’re in someone’s private space, so their drawers and personal items are off-limits. It is best to double-check with the agent before taking photos or videos, because some owners value their privacy.

Arm yourself

You’re only given a few minutes to inspect the property, so make sure you’re prepared. Research the home thoroughly beforehand, so you know what you want to follow up closer in person. Take a notepad with you and jot down notes as you inspect. A tape measurer is also handy to measure dimensions of wardrobes, cupboards and cabinets, and pack a small torch for close-ups.

Play nice

Don’t forget your manners. Keep your criticisms to yourself while you’re inside the home. If you’d prefer to discuss them, call the agent afterward. Extend your politeness to the agent - they’re doing the best job they can for the owner. Introduce yourself when you meet them, and thank them when you leave. Politeness is the best way to build rapport, so it’s a win-win.


Open house

Keep the property clean and looking the way you found it. Image: Getty

Open house etiquette for sellers

Say goodbye

It’s time for you to go. Potential buyers can be intimidated by an owner’s presence and may feel like they’re the ones being inspected. Your absence also gives your agent room to breathe. They’ll want to show buyers the best features of your property - and these aren’t always going to align with yours. Even though you’ve spent weeks prepping your place for this moment, chances are it’ll be subject to criticism, so best to protect your feelings and steer clear of buyers’ feedback.

Build a blank space

Banish excess belongings so buyers can picture themselves as the new owners. Make sure all features and aspects of the space are on show by clearing clutter and storing surplus furniture or decor. Remove any potentially offensive items and pack away personal and sentimental items like photographs and keepsakes. Store your valuables in a safe place, too.

Take your pet pals with you

Not all people are pet people. Some buyers may be immediately put off by the presence of four-legged friends in the home, so take them with you when you leave. Pack away pet bowls and beds, and rid the rooms of fur or hair. It’s okay to leave their kennel or beds set up in the backyard - it’s another invitation for buyers to imagine their pets enjoying your great outdoors.

Clear out cars

Remove all cars from the property. Giving buyers the chance to drive right into your driveway is an impressive first impression. If you have a garage, leave a door open so they can see what other parking space is on offer. Find additional temporary storage for caravans or boats, and any other large items blocking gardens or pathways.

Prep your patch

Leave your quarters clean and comfortable. As well as ticking the usual housecleaning boxes, pay extra attention to spaces buyers will be evaluating. Scrub grout in bathrooms, buff floorboards, eliminate any odours and air out your home. Boost natural light by leaving blinds open, and turn on lights and lamps in darker spaces. Make the temperature comfortable with heaters or air conditioning. Give the backyard and gardens a good once-over, including pruning, pressure-cleaning and rubbish removal.

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