Ms. Demeanor's Vertical Etiquette

Dear Ms. Demeanor: Guess who's coming to the open house?

By Jamie Lauren Sutton  | August 25, 2010 - 6:06AM

Dear Ms. Demeanor,

My husband and I are not in the market to buy or sell, but real estate still occupies a good chunk of our thoughts and conversations, particularly when something is for sale in our own building.

Now the apartment above ours is up for sale and we are DYING to see it.  We barely know the owners but over the years we have suffered through their extensive renovations. They are listing the apartment at a price per square foot much higher than the building average, and we want to know what is so special about the place aside from slightly higher-end appliances. We can’t figure it out from the online listing.

Is it okay to show up to an open house?  Presumably they won't be there and we can give a false name and address on the sign-in sheet.

Cautiously Curious

Dear Cautiously,

Your letter sounds a bit like a setup for a sitcom episode.  No etiquette columnist worth her personalized and prompt thank you notes would condone going to an open house, or anything for that matter, under false pretenses.

What if you meet other neighbors who are genuinely interested?  What if the listing agent lives in your building?  What if the seller arrives home early and finds you snooping?  Very awkward!

Save the chicanery for Will & Grace and do not waste anyone's time, including your own.  If you want to see the apartment, why not simply ask your neighbor if she would be so kind as to show you around?  

A legitimate interest in the contractor or designer she used may also be helpful as it often a plus to work with someone familiar with the building.  If your neighbor says no, you will just have to content yourselves with the pictures and floorplan on the NYTimes website, or try to be more neighborly when their replacement moves in.

Ms. Demeanor


Ms. Demeanor is channeled by a longtime Manhattan vertical dweller and real-estate voyeur who writes under the pen name Jamie Lauren Sutton. She is here to commiserate, calm and correct. Please email your quandaries to [email protected].

See all Ms. Demeanor's advice here.

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