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My wife and I went to a couple of Sunday open houses recently, and I have to say neither provided the showing experience we were expecting. It was our first time going as prospective buyers, so maybe there’s a lot to learn.

First Open House

We arrived at the start time of the first open house, but nobody was there. Three others soon drove up; we assumed one was the Realtor running a little late. Not the case; it was a prospective buyer who said he just learned the home was sold, and drove off.

Undaunted, the remaining couples walked up to the door thinking maybe the Realtor was inside, but it was locked. We wanted to know first-hand if the home had been sold.

We all walked to the backyard, and one prospective buyer said she would call the Realtor (she had also called the day before and left a message, but never heard back).

She again got no answer, so she called the Realtor’s office, and found that the front desk hadn’t received a status update and would try to reach the Realtor. When the receptionist finally got through, she learned the home indeed was sold, but hadn’t been updated in the MLS.

“That’s really poor customer service,” said the prospective buyer to the receptionist. “To say the least, it was very disappointing for all of us. The Realtor could have canceled the open house, or at least put a ‘Sold’ indicator on the yard sign.”

We all took note of the real estate office involved, and commented we’d be reluctant to work with them in the future.

Second Open House

When we arrived at the second open house, there were no other cars, but the garage door was open. We got out, and were soon greeted by the owner.

“Are you here for the open house? Our Realtor couldn’t be here, but I’d be happy to give you a tour,” he said. “I’ve never done this before, but I put out some crackers and cheese. I asked our Realtor if I should serve wine, but that got shot down.”

He handed us a sheet with the particulars and proceeded to give us a great home tour, with lots of background information. It was a lovely house, with a fantastic, park-like yard. In fact, the photos we viewed of the yard, via Trulia, are what brought us to the home in the first place.

As we were coming from the backyard, we noticed another car parked in the driveway; they had let themselves in. The owner said goodbye to us (having never taken down our contact information), went to meet the new couple, and we were on our way.


We don’t know the circumstances, or when the home was sold, but it seems the Realtor for open house No. 1 should have updated the status to ‘sold’ in the MLS to avoid having four couples show up for an open house that was never going to happen.

It seemed disrespectful of our time and effort, and cast a negative light on the Realtor and her real estate firm.

For open house No. 2, it seems the homeowner was slightly out of his element, though he really did a wonderful job. It was nice getting to know him, and to learn why he and his family were moving. We mentioned we were months away from making a decision, so that may be why he didn’t feel it necessary to take down our contact information.

Is it a common occurrence to have the homeowner handle the open house if the Realtor has another commitment? I’m guessing this would be a good option if the seller was motivated – and in fact, the seller may have insisted on the open house even if the Realtor said he/she wouldn’t be available.

What are some of your open house experiences?

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