Pat Kennedy - Your Washington, DC Real Estate Connection


When You're Looking At Houses, Look At The Houses!

When you're out with your favorite buyer broker checking out houses, do you go beyond the house?

I've seen buyers open drawers.  OK, if you're opening drawers to the kitchen cabinets to see if they are dovetailed or not, it's fine.  But if you are opening drawers to the bedroom dresser is a major NoNo!

Opening closets to see if they'll hold your impressive wardrobe is fine.  Opening the doors to the antique armoir in the master bedroom is not OK.   It will be moving out along with the buyers.

Many of the homes you'll see will be vacant, but others are still someone else's home.  And for the sellers, living in their home while it's on the market can be a massive invasion of privacy. 

And when you turn your attention to things that don't convey with the house - furniture, photos, books, shoes and clothing - it's just, well, rude!

Comment balloon 53 commentsPatricia Kennedy • March 10 2011 10:19AM


I agree with you, I don't mind them looking in the food pantry or a closet, but dresser drawers are off limits.

Posted by Jimmy Gilley, (269) 362-4841 - Search Niles MI Home For Sale (Gold Star Realty) about 9 years ago

I agree -- opening furniture doors and drawers are off limits.  Buyers can get distracted when they step into a home for the first time, especially one that's decorated beautifully.  It's sometimes a little overwhelming -- photos and accessories on display catch their attention -- but opening up cabinets/drawers in furniture that doesn't convey is just not acceptable. 

Posted by Melanie Hedrick, 972-816-7205 (Elite Texas Properties, the best homes from McKinney to Dallas!) about 9 years ago

Patricia, curiosity killed the cat! Buyers don't need to see the home owners' personal effects; just the space their stuff will go in if they buy the home.

Posted by Maria Morton, Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758 (Platinum Realty) about 9 years ago

Hands on means different things to folks. In funeral line, have you seen people who grab a hold of the body and felt uncomfortable as the spectacle of grief unfolds. Guess there is no right or wrong way to grief, pray but in property, keep them out of the underwear drawers during the real estate showings. Something needs to be scared, off limits. I tell sellers it it no fun to have folks trapse through your home and I am sensitive to not dragging through lookey loos with gum rubbers loaded with diesel fuel, grease, dirt. It can feel like a violation but torn with do you assume the position to be a team player in the race to get to the long genuine imitation real estate closing table with all the chairs, pens where they slide the commission check your way if the movie has a happy ending Pat.

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) about 9 years ago

Thank you for your comments!

And Andrew, perhaps we should suggest our sellers put locks on their underwear drawers!    Now that is totally off limits!

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (Redfin) about 9 years ago

One of my pet peeves in when a buyer sits on the beds. 

Posted by Christine Hooks, Celebrating 25 Years in Real Estate! (Pino Agency) about 9 years ago

This is something that every buyer's agent should discuss with home buyers touring occupied homes. 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Pat --- excellent points --- yes, it's okay to look at/inside the closets/cabinets/basements/attics/garages to check out sizes/heights/clearances but beyond that --- please would you want someone looking inside your medicine cabinet, desk or dresser?  

Posted by Michael Jacobs, Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393 about 9 years ago

Good one Pat, 

And keeping the kids under control is  required, too.

Posted by Mike Jaquish, 919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate (Realty Arts) about 9 years ago

We don't seem to have that problem too often, but every now and then a quick discussion is in order. Great post!

Posted by Chris and Berna Sloan, Tooele UT (Group 1 Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Buyers need to remember it is the house and not the belonging they are buying to be sure. I find for repeat buyers reminding them how they will/did feel when their home is/was for sale is very helpful. First time home buyers appreciate the etiquette lessons on home buying along with all the other new information they need and there are many great books to help them along.

Posted by Karen Paris, Because Your Move Matters and Karen Cares (Keller Williams Capital Properties Fairfax) about 9 years ago

Pat, so true & i did have to read the riot act to one buyer who upset me...i told her before what was to view because I knew her ways...didn't listen & i really didn't care that she got upset with me...i always turn it around if it were happening in their home..great post!

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in Southern RI and beyond (RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) about 9 years ago


Very, very true!  I tell my clients to look past the furniture and personal items as well.

Ann Hayden in Wildwood, MO

Posted by Ann Hayden 636-399-7544, (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties-St. Louis Missouri) about 9 years ago

And how often do they ask you back at the office, if the sellers would let the bookcase go with the deal? What bookcase? I sell squares of dirt and boxes on squares of dirt, not furniture!

Posted by Rob D. Shepherd, Principal Broker GRI, SRES (Windermere/lane county) about 9 years ago

Patricia, this is one of the first things that should be discussed with potential purchasers. Additionally, buyers who comment on furniture style or color have a problem seeing beyond the decor.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA about 9 years ago

Unless it specifically conveys with the sale, it's hands off!

Posted by Craig Rutman, Raleigh, Cary, Apex area Realtor (Helping people in transition) about 9 years ago

We have always told our sellers to lock up the valuables but have also advised them to take any prescription drugs with them when there are showings. The showing agent can not be with the buyer in every room expecially if it is more than one buyer and they split up and look at two different places at the same time.

Posted by Lisa Marchant (Johnson Home and Land) about 9 years ago

Pat, I follow my buyers as their shadow. Sometimes it is not the buyer its their kids I have problem with..they get curious and open up things.

Posted by Ritu Desai, Virginia Realtor-Fairfax/Loudoun/PW-703-625-4949 (Samson Properties) about 9 years ago

Pat - And don't let your kid jump on the bed!  I actually saw another agent allowing a very unruly child to jump and roll around on the master bedroom bed while the child's mother inspected the walk-in closet.

Posted by Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities, Palos Verdes Luxury Homes in L.A. (Charlemagne International Properties) about 9 years ago

You have to respect the fact that you're in someone's home! How would you feel if it were your drawers!

Posted by Matthew Johnson (Keller Williams Premier Realty) about 9 years ago

I posted your blog on my Facebook page.

 Life is better when there are flowers to photograph!

Posted by Roy Kelley (Realty Group Referrals) about 9 years ago

Did you ever see the Nanny Diaries? One of the teddy bears' eye was a web cam. I tell this story to my buyers, and it's enough to keep everyone in line.

Posted by Cynthia Larsen, Independent Broker In Sonoma County, CA about 9 years ago

Well said, Patricia. I mean...would these buyers want people going through their stuff like that? Most likely not.

Posted by Lydia Lucas (Prudential CT Realty) about 9 years ago

Pat, there are SOME - no matter what you tell them, they feel they have a RIGHT to INSPECT the home, by opening drawers, kitchen cabinets and pass some remarks.

I try to tell my buyers - in my first consultation itself - you are buying a home - not the contents! Most of then get it.

I hope everyone gets it!

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) about 9 years ago

I am not a fan of buyers who go through the personal stuff of the sellers...I agree with the comment above about kids.

Posted by Jeffrey DiMuria 321.223.6253 Waves Realty, Florida Space Coast Homes (Waves Realty) about 9 years ago

If I ever had a buyer doing this, I would intervene immediately.  That is not cool at all.  Luckily I haven't had any brazen buyers like this. 

Posted by Paula McDonald, Ph.D., Granbury, TX 936-203-0279 (Beam & Branch Realty) about 9 years ago

I tend to agree, I can't imagine seeing a buyer even do something like that, I know I would say something.

Posted by Raiza Schwartz, CDPE (West USA Realty) about 9 years ago

This raises a great point especially in technologically advanced world we live in. My company has recieved calls from upset sellers because of someone "snooping" too much. They were at work watching the showing via their live webcam. Oops! Remeber you never know when someone is watching these days.....

Posted by Peter Baiardi (Ayre/Rhinehart REALTORS) about 9 years ago


In addition to snooping, I get "How does that work?" quite a bit - but with items that don't convey.  I don't have to explain operation of the $2500 espresso machine on the counter because it isn't for sale!

Posted by Irene Kennedy Realtor® in Northwestern NJ (Weichert) about 9 years ago

When I look at houses, I look at the houses!  Every day!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago


Agreed. Really rude. But you see it all the time. What IS the point?


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (eXp Realty of California) about 9 years ago

With that kind of Buyer, I would worry about them taking something.

Posted by Jerry Morse, BBA,GRI (The Morse Company) about 9 years ago

Buyers opening furniture drawers...not cool.  Sellers who leave the drawers open with their clothing hanging out or underwear in plain sight....also not cool

Posted by Diane McDermott, Charlotte NC Real Estate Market (Realtor®, GRI, Landis e2 Real Estate, LLC) about 9 years ago

always amazes me when i hear about the snoopers.  what are they expecting to learn about the house from a dresser drawer?

thanks for the post.

Posted by Kevin Kueneke, San Diego Mortgage Banker (Caliber Home Loans) about 9 years ago

Pat - I cannot even imagine people opening up drawers in the bedroom! But I guess some do and it is indeed up to the Realtor to let them know it is NOT acceptable! Great post, as usual!

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) about 9 years ago

Agreed, Pat.  It is rude to rummage through drawers when you must realize that this is not part of the conveying of the house.  We should not have to put up signs around the house.

Posted by Jane Peters, Los Angeles real estate concierge services (Home Jane Realty) about 9 years ago

Hi Pat: Taking videos, taking photos, opening drawers - all no nos.. Nice post. Gay

Posted by Gay E. Rosen, As Real as Real Estate Gets! (Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty) about 9 years ago


You make a great point the customers should be looking at the home not into the owners personal stuff.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Posted by Lou Ludwig, Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC (Ludwig & Associates) about 9 years ago

Patricia!  I just posted a blog on rules of REALTOR rules.  Nice blog!  Have a nice rest of the day!

Posted by Olga Diaz, Potter, Mng Broker, CRS, ASP, ePRO, ABR (COLDWELL BANKER TOMLINSON) about 9 years ago true.  Luckily I have not had buyers do that (knock on wood).  Of course, kitchen cabinets & closets but not furniture!

Posted by Christine Smith, Exclusive Buyer Agent & Attorney, Canton, MA (Buyers Brokers Only LLC - about 9 years ago

totally agree I stop my buyers if they try it's just plain wrong!

Posted by Debra Hughes (Keller Williams Realty) about 9 years ago

I love when a buyer asks if they can open a kitchen or bathroom cabinet. My answer, When you are purchasing a home, you can open the attached cabinets...when you are cannot. It breaks the ice a bit.


Posted by Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400) about 9 years ago

I also always worry about the "nanny cams" you never know anymore who is watching you...PROCEED WITH CAUTION!!

Posted by Laura J. Lycans, Your Dream + My Passion = Success!! (Sandhills Choice Realty, LLC) about 9 years ago

Pat, I haven't had any buyers that want to look "beyond the cupboards" and counters....thank goodness.  I'm sure I'll run into such buyers in the future....only a matter of time.  I'll have no problem telling them, however, it isn't appropriate.

Posted by Vickie Slade, Service You Can Trust ~ Someone You Can Depend On (Colorado Landmark, Realtors) about 9 years ago

Funny--that's one thing I don't remember ever having encountered!  Maybe they do it behind my back... (And it makes me wonder if there's a story behind it, Pat?!) 

But in any case, the next time I see a buyer behave badly, I will remember that teddy bear camera line!

Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) about 9 years ago

Patricia - I have never run into that but I know I would surely have told them cease and desist. That's just either voyeurism or stupidity.

Posted by John Mayer, Your Beach Area Expert (Oikos Realty, Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach Florida) about 9 years ago

Pat, you are so right, opening dresser drawers and the like is just plain rude, it still amazes me the things some people will do, it is especially bad when they are your own clients you have to teach manners to.

Posted by Suzanne Taylor, Home Sales In Corpus Christi, TX (Ultima Real Estate - Corpus Christi) about 9 years ago

Pat, there was an episode on HGTV where a buyer actually took a pair of panties from a drawer and stuck it in his pocket. There was a camera in the corner and it was all caught on national television. The producer stopped the man before he left and asked if he realized there were cameras in every room. It was unbelievable! People going in those homes know there's a TV show being filmed.

Posted by Peg Barcelo, The FlufftasticStager from Summerland, BC (Fluff My House! Home Staging Inc. 250.486.6369) about 9 years ago

Hi Pat... This is a GREAT post.  I see this happen all the time and always advise my clients of the same guidleines you spelled out.  It's a matter of privacy and respect.  A WELL DESERVED gold star for you!

Posted by Steve Shatsky about 9 years ago

No kidding. There is no reason to be opening anything that doesn't convey with the house.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) about 9 years ago


Working in the field I work in, sometimes you see things you are surprised to see.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) about 9 years ago

Years ago I accompanied a friend as she toured houses to buy. (I'm not an agent, nor was I then, just a friend going with her.)  She focused on a particular house because she liked the CD collection and the dog. 

She wasn't being nosy, it's just that music and dogs are important to her, so she gravitated to what she liked.  Trying to get her to focus on the house was impossible.  She also admitted that she had no ability to visualize the house without the existing items. 

It highlights for me, the importance of staging -

Posted by Ann Bellamy (Hard money lending for investors in NH and MA) about 9 years ago

I agree!  I actually had a client check out the invitation on people's refrigerators, because she wanted to know what parties she wasn't invited to.  Then, after deciding what they would buy, she called to look at someone's home because she wanted to see how they had decorated the huse.  Some people!

Posted by Virginia Gardner, Realtor, Charlottesville, Serving Central Virginia (Roy Wheeler Realty Co.) about 9 years ago