What is a Lookie-Loo

Should You Go to an Open House if You Are Not Really Looking to Buy?

Examining a home
••• Getty Images/retrorocket

Lookie-loos are people who often masquerade as potential homebuyers but have no real intention of ever buying. Whatever you might call them, a looky loo or looky loos, they are not buyers. Other types of lookie-loos are those who are intensely curious about the interior of other people's homes and have developed a hobby of touring open houses.

When confronted, lookie-loos will say, "Oh, I just live down the street." (As if that explains their fascination.)

Lookie-Loos Can Tend to Irk Some Real Estate Agents

Some real estate agents call lookie-loos "time wasters." They say this because often a real estate agent can be very short-sighted. Some look only to the immediate future, and if they don't see a commission check materializing at the end of a discussion, they don't want to talk to lookie-loos.

If you are selling in a hot market, you don't want to spend time talking to people who have no intention of buying. While a brash lookie-loo is chatting you up, a quiet and unassuming actual client may be overlooked. You could have been giving her a personal tour, answering her questions and showing her special features of the property. Instead, the lookie-loo is eating all the cookies you baked for the open house while talking to you about the weather.

Even when other potential buyers aren't touring the house, lookie-loos can distract you from making calls, ensuring the house is in good order for the showing, and catching up on your email and other correspondence. Their additional traffic brings with it more potential dirt, possible wear and tear, and breakage. They cost you money when they take printed brochures and materials just to seem like they may be potential buyers, only to discard it.

Capitalizing on Lookie-Loos

Some agents may say there is no way to be a good lookie-loo, but others may be more tolerant. Few people have zero potential ever to buy or sell a home or refer a friend or relative to an agent as a buyer or seller. Every person through the door is a potential source of sales.

You might be able to channel curious neighbors and lookie-loos by hosting a special neighborhood preview open house. Use this as an opportunity to get your name out to them as potential home sellers or to refer home sellers to you. While the home is open for touring, your angle is to develop the lookie-loos as future clients as sellers as well as buyers. Have brochures for other houses available. Be prepared to discuss home valuation and when may be a good time to enter the market as a buyer or a seller.

Being a Courteous Lookie-Loo

If you go to an open house, be honest with the agent about your potential value as a buyer or seller. You can be upfront about this and then stay out of the way of other visitors who are more likely buyers. Don't engage the agent in a long conversation while there are other people touring the house.

Perhaps you want to see the valuation of homes in the neighborhood or compare your house to the one being shown. If the agent is free, perhaps even bored as there are no other clients touring, discuss any questions you have with her. Whether you're a looky-loo or part of a large group of lookie-loos, agents almost always will give you advice on selling your own home.

If you indeed have friends or relatives who are in the market to buy or sell a house, pass along the agent's card or contact information. It's a small price to pay for satisfying your curiosity and eating those free cookies.