K E V I N + J O N A T H A N  I N  T H E  M E D I A

From time to time we get asked to chime in the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle’s real estate Ask-a-Realtor column “Sound Off.”  This week’s question asked about open house faux pas. While the other folks talked about opening drawers during open houses, we focused on the bigger picture.

Appearing in the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Sound Off” real estate column published on Aug 26, 2018, see the online version here.

Question: What is proper etiquette when attending an open house? What are some unwritten rules?

Answer: Open houses may resemble kabuki theater sometimes, but first impressions matter a great deal in real estate. 

There’s nothing worse for buyers than feeling ignored at an open house. Agents should always greet and acknowledge you — even a simple nod works. Seeing an agent who’s engrossed in their phone by themselves is disheartening. We’ve attended open houses with our clients and weren’t sure if the showing agent knew we were even there. If they don’t care about an open, what else have they ignored?   

On the other side, we tell our buyers to behave nicely: say hello, tell the showing agent you’re working with us (super important to avoid confusion early on), pick up a statement but never put it back if you’re uninterested (recycle it elsewhere later). If you don’t like a house, smile and nod but don’t say anything negative about it within earshot of other folks even if you’re trying to psych out potential competition, because good agents will remember who came by and what they said.    

ABOVE: The kabuki theater of open houses.

E X T R A  C R E D I T

Some Tips + Definitions

We’re known for our educated and prepared buyers. Our buyers oftentimes endear themselves to Listing Agents at open houses by being polite and nice. We encourage you to introduce yourself to the Listing Agent and feel free to ask some questions but you should mention that you’re working with Kevin Ho and Jonathan McNarry of Vanguard right away. Here are a few tips: 

New Buildings

Introducing yourself and telling them you’re working with us is  even more important when you go to new construction buildings as you want to be clear that you have independent representation, which is always important but more so in new construction as these buildings will have in-house sales staff where commission questions may come up. 

Open Houses

Open houses are times when the seller’s agent invites the public to come and see the property. They usually take place on Sundays from 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. with fewer taking place at the same time on Saturdays and some homes being open on Thursday nights for ‘twilight tours’ after work gets out for most people. If you can’t make it, let us know and we can set up an appointment to see it with you.


The seller’s agent is called the “Listing Agent” and your agent is the buyer’s agent. Some agents specialize as being one of the other, we specialize in both! Sometimes the Listing Agent will also act as a buyer’s agent too but if you think you’ll gain an advantage in getting the property this way beware as potential conflicts of interest may arise. Sellers pay commissions to both agents.

Asking Price/List Price

This is published price a property will have on the MLS. It bears little relationship with its closing price in San Francisco as nearly 75% of properties close above the list price.

More Columns by Kevin + Jonathan