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Are Open Houses Allowed In Ontario?

by David Bico on 25 Nov 2022

During the covid-19 pandemic, public health officials restricted the rights of sellers to host open houses for potential real estate transactions. While these measures were intended to protect the health of Canadians, they were highly restrictive for people trying to sell houses.

Luckily, in March of 2022, public health officials ended mask mandates and began allowing open houses once more. This means that now people wishing to host an open house for selling their homes are once again free to do so.

For Ontarians who are still concerned with potential health risks involving covid-19, the government maintains a list of guidelines for safely hosting open houses and other real estate activities, such as a recommendation to maintain physical distancing.

Keep reading to find information on hosting an open house in Ontario, as well as some tips on how to get the most out of an open house.

How to Find Open Houses in Toronto

Although it's fairly easy to explore homes for sale online, attending an open house is the best way to get the entire picture.

A home can be seen in person by potential purchasers during an open house. These normally take place on a Saturday or Sunday for a few hours. During that time anyone, regardless of how serious a buyer you might be, is welcome to drop by and take a tour.

The real estate agent will be available to answer any queries even though the sellers are typically absent. Finding open houses will assist you to see what's currently available and closely inspect potential properties.

Due to Covid-19, open houses these days can be a little challenging. However, it's important to remember that they can also be held online through services such as Zoom.

For those that take place in person, further safety precautions could be necessary, like capping the number of visitors permitted inside at once and mandating mask use.

However, there are numerous open houses accessible and several ways to find them if you're interested in going.

Agents have access to a registry called the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Real estate brokers use it largely to exchange details about their listings with one another, making it simpler for them to connect with potential clients.

Can Anyone Go to an Open House?

Anyone can join public open houses from curious neighbors to buyers who are actively looking to move. Children are typically welcome but parents are advised to use discretion as to whether or not their children should be in attendance.

Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed at most open house visits. If it's your first trip and you are just curious, make sure to tell your agent you are not actually buying. While open house visits are open to the public, being up-front can help sellers focus on actual potential buyers.

Being a curious neighbour is acceptable; you are still welcome. If you aren't really friends with the sellers, you don't have to pretend to be looking for a house.

Everyone wants to know how much their house is worth, and a good way to do so is to look at the competition in the neighbourhood.

Is It Necessary to Register for Real Estate Open Houses?

Most agents ask that you bring identification to an open house before visiting. Mostly for safety, as the homeowner wants information on who was going through their house. Realtors will generally ask you to sign in when in attendance for the purpose of contact tracing.

If you get sick after attending an open house, you should contact the agent to inform them that other people in attendance may have been exposed. This helps keep everybody safe and prevents the spread of airborne illnesses.

Posting Signage on The Property Entryway Door Stating Health Concerns

Although the government no longer forces people to wear masks while attending real estate open houses, the agent can still ask that visitors do so. They are also free to employ other safety measures, such as having an assistant manage physical distancing and capacity limits.

If you wish to maintain physical distancing while showing your home, it's best to post a sign on the front door with details about your expectations. The sign should include any mask requirements or request self-screening for visitors before they enter.

Keep in mind, however, that you are not permitted to discriminate against individuals protected under human rights laws. For example, special accommodations must be made for those who cannot wear masks for health reasons.

Things to Look Out for at an Open House

Attending an open house is one of the best ways to get to see a property up close. It's important to know what you're looking for in order to get the best out of it. The average open house visitor spends 10 to 20 minutes exploring a home. You should consider:

  • Room dimensions and type
  • The rooms' design and flow
  • A home's quality and condition, as well as the condition of the front and rear yards, decks, and fences
  • possibilities for parking

If the house piques your interest, pay close attention to the number of open house guests and the questions they are posing; this information may be useful if you end up bidding against other potential buyers.

Is There Anything I Should Avoid at an Open House?

There are some etiquette guidelines that you should adhere to when attending an open house. Here is some relevant and applicable advice for things to avoid:

  • Utilizing any restroom (particularly in an "emergency")
  • Making a video or taking photos.
  • Speaking negatively of the house or the seller's possessions.
  • Opening all the interior doors, dresser drawers, or closet doors
  • Handling sculptures, handling children's toys, and lying on mattresses.
  • Touching the Seller's personal items.
  • Bringing your dog
  • Exploring the house alone; keep in mind that you are a guest and it is advisable to let the agent take the initiative until instructed otherwise.
  • If you aren't truly interested in the house, don't take up all the agent's time at a crowded open house.
  • Arriving before or after the specified hour.
  • Informing the host realtor about your financial situation, aspirations, and private life. Keep in mind that the agent coordinating the open house is the seller's agent, and whatever you tell them could be used against you if you decide to show interest in the property.

Tips for Getting the Most Out of an Open House

Make a travel plan in advance. Plan to visit houses that are somewhat close to one another so that you can walk there; you'll enjoy the time and trouble you'll save by not having to park several times.

Shun the throngs. Crowds can make it difficult to really get a good look at the property. If you want to avoid crowds, try to arrive towards the beginning of an open house because that is typically when it will be busiest.

Be honest with the building management about whether or not you are working with an agency. The listing agent will be able to reach your REALTOR before the Sellers accept another offer if the house receives an offer at 8 p.m. on Saturday. When a house you're interested in is sold out from under you, it's never fun.

Final Thoughts

The process of house hunting can be extremely stressful. Additionally, if you see multiple properties over a few days, the specifics may become hazy. It's best to come prepared and make the most of your open house tours.

Some things you might want to consider are bringing a notebook, taking pictures (with the realtor's permission), and making sure to grab the realtor's contact information.

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