Do I Need a Real Estate Agent to Attend an Open Home?

Nope!  There’s no reason you can’t attend an open home by yourself without a real estate agent.  You can find the open home times via websites like Redfin or Zillow (or through your real estate agent), and simply show up and have a look around the property.  Open homes provide a great opportunity to get a good feel for the home - the layout, the natural light, the condition, the finishings, etc., that may not be as apparent from looking at the photos.

Of course, if you’re more comfortable attending an open home with you with your agent, then you should request that they visit the home with you.  Your agent should be your home-buying resource - there when you want them available to lend their expertise, without being overbearing or pushy.

A lot of buyers, even those with an agent, actually prefer to tour open houses on their own.  They find that they have more flexibility if they are by themselves, and can spend more time at the homes they like, and walk straight out of the homes they dislike, without having to explain their decisions to their agent.  And they can avoid having a pushy agent try to talk them into something they’re not interested in.

One set-up we’ve seen that is very popular with buyers is to attend a first round of open homes without their agent, and then visit their favorite homes again with their agent. This allows buying to check out a number of open homes at their own pace, and determine which, if any, of those homes are most interesting.  They then organize to re-visit the homes they are most interested in with their agent. They can get their agent’s opinion on anything unique about the home, as well as get a second look at the home themselves. Given the tight timelines in the Bay Area, this generally means visiting homes by themselves on the Saturday, and then asking their agents to visit the top homes with them on the Sunday.

One word of advice about visiting a home without an agent: listing agents sometimes see unaccompanied or unrepresented buyers as an opportunity to steer you to either an affiliated agent in their brokerage, or another agent with whom they have a relationship.  Some less scrupulous listing agents may even offer to serve as your buying agents themselves, in what’s referred to as a “dual agency” relationship. If an agent represents both the seller and  the buyer in a transaction, he or she will earn double the commission, often a $100,000+ payday.  Dual agency is illegal in many states, but it’s permitted here in California. We find it’s often a good idea to be a bit circumspect about brokerage recommendations from listing agents, particularly if they involve dual agency.

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Buyers' Guide