Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Should You Bring Your Kid to an Open House?

I’m a mother of two and pregnant with another. We outgrew our two-bedroom apartment long ago but made do because it’s in a good neighborhood. Now, however, we really need a bigger place, and we’re finally ready to buy. I want to be able to visit open houses, but I worry about dragging the kids along. Are children even allowed at open houses?

Of course kids are allowed! There’s no agent worth her license who’d turn away a pre-approved buyer because she (or he) had kids in tow. The bigger question here is: Should you bring the kids? And I say: It depends on how old they are.

Toddlers, unfortunately, are out. It’s just not a good idea to have small children running around a stranger’s house. Not only does it prevent you from taking in the details of the house, it also presents a liability concern for the agent. What if the kid falls down a flight of stairs? Who’s to blame? You could blame the homeowner for having slippery stairs, but there is precedence for the broker being held responsible. While that may not concern you, when I was a Realtor® in Chicago, I was always extra-vigilant when clients brought children to showings and opens. There were usually multiple groups of people touring the house at the same time, and throwing in a pair of toddlers, even fairly well-behaved ones, can create chaos.

House hunting is challenging in and of itself. Adding small kids to the mix means adding the same level of project management that you use to navigate everything else in your world. If you know you’re going to have your kids during an open house weekend, ask your agent to inform the listing broker. If you don’t yet have an agent, call the listing agent yourself. (You could probably even text or email.)

Remember, bringing kids means the agent has to usher you through the house, room by room. Any loose floorboard or perched sculpture needs to be pointed out and traversed with the safety precautions usually reserved for construction sites.

Safety aside, small children get bored easily. They want to touch, explore, and express themselves. All of which is fine—except when visiting a stranger’s house. An agent shouldn’t have to both show off the home’s best features—the Wolf range, the free-standing tub, the antique bannisters—and protect them from little ones.

I once had a client who pushed her stroller-bound newborn to every condo building in downtown Chicago. She wanted to tour homes, and paying for a baby sitter was not in her budget. When it was time to nurse, the wife recused herself to the minivan. With newborns, it works.
Teenagers, on the other hand, are mini-adults (though it may not always seem like it). They have their own opinions and should be parties to the decision-making process. Teens are not just interested in what their room will look like, they also want to know what the area has to offer and who lives nearby. They often bring up good questions their parents forget to ask, like what type of Internet is available—cable or fiber? The only problem is, they too get bored. They might think visiting open houses is fun—at least the first weekend or two—then zone out.

Or you could have the opposite reaction. I once had an open house where the kids’ room was tricked out with bunk beds, a playhouse, a slide, and more toys than a childless woman like myself can possibly remember. It was a huge hit—until the parents had to physically drag their kids out of the pint-size tepee. Cries, screams, tears. In the end, it’s just not worth it. Get a sitter!

Got a searing open-house etiquette question? Send it to us at
Chrystal Caruthers is a Chicago native, former Realtor, TV news producer, and newspaper reporter. Chrystal, who covers real estate industry news at, enjoys cooking, hiking, Bikram yoga, and cookies. Full article found at:

No comments:

Post a Comment