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Can I Attend an Open House Without an Agent in NYC?

Attending an open house without an agent in NYC is generally not a problem as long as your buyer’s agent registers you in advance with the listing agents. If you forget to have your buyer’s broker register you, all you need to do is sign-in with the details of your buyer agent at each open house you attend.

Over 75% of buyers in NYC are represented by buyer agents, so it comes as no surprise to listing agents that most open house attendees have brokers. In fact, many buyers prefer to attend open houses on his or her own since there’s less pressure.

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Can I Go to an Open House Without My Agent?

Yes. Unless an open house is by appointment only, you are permitted to attend open houses in NYC without your buyer’s agent being present. Since most buyer agents are busy hosting open houses for their own sale listings on Sundays, it’s a common practice in NYC for buyer agents to ‘register’ their clients with listing agents in lieu of attending the open house with their clients.

In an ideal world, you would email a list of open houses to your buyer’s agent and have him or her register you for each one in advance of attending. At a minimum, it’s important for you to include the details of your buyer’s agent on each open house sign-in sheet.

Over 90% of deals in NYC have two agents (a listing agent and a buyer’s agent), so listing agents in NYC almost always understand and respect the fact that you’ve elected the free services of a buyer’s agent.

With that said, there’s nothing more infuriating to a listing agent than a buyer attending an open house, making no mention of having a buyer’s agent if asked, and then looping in a buyer agent before making an offer.

All of this distraction and headache can be avoided simply by registering for an open house, signing-in with the details of your buyer broker and being honest with the listing agent when asked if you have a buyer’s agent.

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What Happens If You Visit an Open House Without a Buyer Agent in NYC?

Visiting an open house without a buyer’s agent is a fairly common practice for buyers in NYC. You will come across the following types of individuals during an open house in NYC:

  • Early Stage Buyer – the buyer has not thought about buyer agent representation yet, as the search is just beginning.

  • Represented Buyer – the buyer is working with a buyer’s agent, but the buyer prefers to attend open houses independently.

  • Direct Buyer – some buyers prefer to work directly with the listing agent, even though this means foregoing the savings of a Hauseit® Buyer Closing Credit.

  • Curious Neighbor – it’s quite common in larger buildings for neighbors to stop by out of curiosity, even though they have zero interest or desire in buying the property.

It’s common for listing agents to try and build rapport with you during an open house, especially if it’s quiet and there are no other guests. You may be asked by listing agents at open houses whether or not you have a buyer’s agent.

When answering this question, it’s important for you to be straightforward to avoid misleading the listing agent. If you have a buyer’s agent, your answer to the question should be “Yes.” If you are still thinking about a buyer’s agent, a possible answer could be: “We’re in the early stages and still considering our options. We will let you know if we’re interested in this listing.”

Since there is mandatory commission splitting in NYC, it matters very little whether or not you have a buyer’s agent. Over 90% of deals will be co-broked, meaning that the listing agent and the buyer’s agent split the total commission paid by the seller. Furthermore, sellers typically agree to pay a fixed total commission whether or not the buyer has a buyer’s agent.

With that said, it’s a bad idea to mislead the listing agent into thinking that you’re unrepresented when you in fact have a buyer’s agent. Although the listing agent must respect your desire to be represented, your buyer agent may have a tough time building rapport with the listing agent if he or she feels misled or offended by your behavior prior to looping in your buyer’s broker.

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Can You Go to an Open House Without a Pre-Approval?

Yes. Unless an open house in NYC is by-appointment only, there is absolutely no requirement for you to possess or bring a pre-approval letter to any open houses that you attend.

With that said, it’s a good idea to request a pre-approval letter as soon as you’re serious about buying a home in NYC. The process of applying for a pre-approval letter will give you a clear picture about your finances and help you understand exactly how much home you can afford.

It’s also a good idea to have your offer documentation prepared in advance, especially if you’re buying a co-op apartment. Certain properties in NYC sell in a matter of weeks, so buyers who are prepared and have first-mover advantage generally have better luck during bidding wars.

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Do You Need to RSVP for an Open House in NYC?

No. However, it’s a good idea to have your buyer’s agent register you for open houses if you plan on attending on your own. The only instance where an RSVP is required is if the open house is listed as ‘by appointment only.’

Most popular and/or newer listings usually have general open houses. It’s more common to see by-appointment open houses for more expensive listings, unique properties and units which have spent more than 4 months on the market.

Pro Tip: Estimate your seller closing costs in NYC with Hauseit’s interactive closing cost calculator for sellers.

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Do You Need a Realtor to Go to an Open House?

No. The truth is that you don’t even need to be a serious home buyer in order to attend an open house in NYC. With that said, it may not be the best idea to walk into the open house for a $15m listing if you aren’t knowledgeable or serious about home buying.

Why? Open houses for expensive listings typically have very few attendees. Plus, the properties are quite large. Therefore, the listing agent will usually follow-you around the entire home and ask you questions the entire time.

Unless you’re prepared to be interrogated, it’s probably a better idea to attend an open house for a less expensive property with more attendees so you can be more anonymous.

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Can Anyone Go to a Real Estate Open House in NYC?

Yes. Most open houses in NYC permit walk-ins unless the open house is advertised as ‘by-appointment only.’ With over 50,000 real estate agents in NYC, you should be prepared to come across a number of different personality types when it comes to listing agents in NYC.

If you’re seriously thinking about buying real estate in NYC, it’s a good idea to partner with a seasoned buyer’s agent and do your homework on closing costs, the offer process, co-op vs. condo debate and the expected closing timeline.

Save 2% on Your Home Purchase

Save money without disrupting your deal by working with one of our traditional, experienced partner buyer's brokers who never openly discount. Discreet buyer closing credit check given at close.


Disclosure: Hauseit and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, financial and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction. The services marketed on Hauseit.com are provided by licensed real estate brokers and other third party professional service providers. Hauseit LLC is not a licensed real estate broker nor a member of any multiple listing service (MLS).

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