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Hamilton loves open houses! Visiting an open house is one of the best ways for newbies to kick off their house hunt and for experienced buyers to maximize their time. Today, we’re answering your most frequently asked questions about open houses in Hamilton and sharing our best strategies for open house success.

 Q: How do I find Hamilton open houses:

Most open houses are posted on MLS and accessible to the public via Realtor.ca. Many tech-savvy agents also use social media to promote upcoming open houses – Instagram is especially popular. Try these searches on the Friday before the weekend you want to get out there: “open house Hamilton”, “open house HamONT”, and “HamOnt real estate”.

You can also wander around your neighbourhood of choice on the weekend – you’ll likely see lots of signboards directing you to nearby open houses. Happy hunting!

Q: When Do Open Houses Happen?

In Hamilton, public open houses typically happen on the weekends, as early as 1:00 pm and as late as 5:00 pm. Most open houses occur on the first few weekends after a home is listed or after a significant change to the listing (for example, a price reduction). Never, ever assume an open house is happening – check ahead of time to avoid disappointment (and an awkward interaction with a confused seller trying to watch a Blue Jays game).

Q:  Can Anyone Go to An Open House in Hamilton?

Anyone can attend an open house, from active buyers to nosy neighbours. Kids are usually welcome however the services provided by the agent hosting the open house do not include babysitting. Dogs should stay at home or outside (yes, even if they are tiny and portable).

You can totally visit an open house just because you’re curious but please don’t make up some elaborate, fake backstory. You’ll either waste the hosting agent’s time or you’ll look very silly because you’re not the actor you think you are.

Q: What About Nosy Curious Neighbours?

It’s totally fine to visit your neighbours open house. First, the sellers have had the “but what if our neighbours come to poke around” conversation with their agent (and chose to go ahead with the open house). Second, you should see it especially if you’re considering making a move yourself. Consider it “market research”. Again, please don’t feel like you need to lie to the agent hosting the open house.

Q: What if I’m working with an agent? Can I go to an open house without them?

Absolutely! Just tell the agent that you have representation. If you love the house then you could give your agent’s name to the agent hosting the open house to help get the ball rolling.

Q: What Should I Wear?

Ideally, you should wear either a tuxedo or a ballgown but that may not be possible on short notice. All kidding aside, you don’t have to wear anything specific beyond shoes that you can slip on and off easily.

Q: Do I Have to Sign In?

Most agents will ask you to sign in at an open house or show your ID before touring the home. It’s both for safety reasons and because homeowners want to know who went through their home.
Be honest about who you are – we know your name probably isn’t Jane Smith and your phone number isn’t 867-5309. Yes, some agents will use that information to bombard you with e-mail spam and phone calls, and no, that isn’t cool. But simply indicating that you don’t want to be contacted is way more respectful than faking it. And if you are going to fake it, at least be original, lol.

Q: Does Every Home For Sale in Hamilton Have an Open House?

Nope. The decision to host an open house is made by the seller with the guidance of their agent. If you are interested in a property that does not have an open house then you need to contact the listing agent (via your agent if you have representation) to arrange for a showing.

Q: There are so many open houses this weekend. How do I choose?

The spring and early summer are primetime for open houses. It’s not too hot yet and everyone’s yard looks gorgeous. Here are a few tips for planning a solid route:

  1. Make a list of your “must-see” properties then determine what days they are having an open house. Not every property is open on both days. 
  2. See your favourite listings first – you don’t want to miss out on your top choice because you were delayed at another property
  3. Identify your primary goal – are you hoping to see specific places or are you more interested in scoping out a neighbourhood?
  4. Plan for extra drive time if you need to go across the lower city from east to west – traffic can be extra annoying on King Street through downtown. The same goes for driving through the Meadowlands area in Ancaster.  
  5. Street parking can be a challenge on the weekends in popular areas such as Locke Street, Westdale, downtown Dundas, and anywhere near a waterfall or hiking trail. Plan for extra time to find a place to park. 
  6. Check out our Commuter’s Guide to Hamilton for more tips on how to navigate the local traffic

Q: Do I Ring the Doorbell or Should I Walk Right into the House?

It should be obvious that an open house is happening (sign out front, door ajar, overly keen agent waiting to chat with you). If it is not very obvious then you should knock before you walk in the house on the off chance that you’ve made an error with the address or the time.

Q: Will There Be Someone at the House? What Do They Do?

The agent should introduce themselves when you arrive. They will likely ask some questions to get to know you a bit and will likely direct you to a sign-in sheet and marketing materials for your use. Some agents will tour you around whereas others will let you wander. This is a great time to ask questions about the neighbourhood, schools, etc. If it is really busy then they are going to try to manage the crowd and answer questions as they can.

Q: What Should I Look for at an Open House?

An open house is a great way to get a first impression of a home beyond the photos and the virtual tour. You probably won’t have the time or the space to have a really focused look around so try to focus your efforts on the “big stuff”:

  • The size and types of the room 
  • The flow of the home 
  • The overall condition (including the smell)
  • The exterior space and landscaping
  • The parking situation

If you like the house a lot then don’t be afraid to eavesdrop a bit. You might learn something interesting from the questions asked by other attendees. If you love, love, love it then you need to book a private showing ASAP.

Related: What to Look for in a Condo

Related: What to Look for in a Flip

Q: Any Other Tips for Open Houses in Hamilton?

  1. Avoid the crowds – open houses are busiest near the end. Aim to arrive right when they open and you’re likely to have some time to yourself. 
  2. Be upfront if you have an agent and share their information with the agent hosting the open house.  The agent at the open house will add your agent’s contact information to their list of interested parties. Real estate never sleeps. You want to be in the know if someone submits an offer on the same night as the open house. 
  3. Take notes. The details can get a little blurry after you see 5 or 6 (or 7 or 8 or…)houses. 
  4. Don’t use the bathroom
  5. Don’t take photos or videos inside the house 
  6. Leave the marketing materials for the next visitor if you are not interested in the home. 
  7. Be there during the scheduled time or you risk missing out 
  8. Be cool. Don’t be all, like, uncool by monopolizing the time of the agent especially if you are not interested in the property. 
  9. Don’t tell the agent your life story or your budget. The listing agent is representing the interests of the seller. 
  10. Ask questions about the house, the neighbourhood, the schools, recent sales, etc.
  11. Stick around the neighbourhood after you finish up – sit down for a late lunch, or grab a coffee to go and sit in a nearby park. This is your chance to get a good feel for a typical weekend afternoon in the neighbourhood. Or, better yet, plan your open house agenda to coincide with one of Hamilton’s fun, summer events.  

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