By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV

HAVERHILL (CBS) – Open houses are just for people looking to buy some real estate, right? Actually, the answer might be no.

Even if you feel like a nosy neighbor, there are good reasons to check out houses you have no intention of buying.

Haverhill realtor Christina Tarpy of REMAX believes open houses are a valuable part of the selling process. “The open house gives an opportunity for the touchy-feely. They get to go and see what the house is all about,” she explained.

Still, Tarpy knows when she puts out her open house sign, she is going to meet more than just potential home buyers. “Oh yes,” she said emphatically, “When they walk in, they start looking around and I say, ‘Would you like to sign in? and then they say, ‘no, no,’ I’m just the neighbor.’”

So why are these people scoping out these homes? In a tough real estate market, you can get a lot of valuable information about the real estate market in your community by visiting an open house.

First, you can learn about whether or not it makes sense to renovate your property. Tarpy explained, “You don’t want to overdo it because you definitely don’t want to be the over-improved house in the neighborhood. You won’t get your money back.”

You can also check out a home’s interior for potential inspiration. “Get ideas for decorating,” said Tarpy. “What are the more popular colored cabinets or hardware? Should I do granite, or Corian?”

If you are thinking of selling your home in the near future, you can get a sense of what other homes are going for. And you can also shop around for a realtor by seeing them in action. “I was previewed,” said Tarpy. Somebody came in and said, ‘I like your style’ and I said, ‘I’ll take that!’”

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports

Homeowners know they might lose privacy as some strangers will go too far, peering into closets or drawers. Despite that drawback, sellers Andy and Mary LaSonde say the potential pay off is still there.

Mary explained, “If there are people coming through that aren’t interested in the house, there are also people coming through that are. So it’s a trade off.”

Tarpy even encourages her clients to attend other open houses while she is hosting theirs. “I think that helps them learn about their completion. It helps the agent educate the seller too, if there is a need for a price reduction. They will already have seen their competition.”

When visiting an open house, Tarpy says not to lie about your intent if you are asked. She says it’s okay to tell the agent you are just interested in seeing the house and not buying it.

She said with any experience realtors can usually tell anyway.


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