C.A.R. Legal Guidance on Open Houses – as of 7/2/20

There still seems to be some confusion in the state regarding the legality of holding open houses, says the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.). Please be reminded that open houses are not currently permitted in California. The mandatory Industry Guidance states “Discontinue holding open houses and showings open to the general public on a walk-in basis; use an appointment or digital sign-in process to control the number of people in the house or property.” Thus, the only way to show property is by making an appointment in advance. Visitors viewing a house should be from one buying party only and the number of persons in the property is limited by the requirement of social distancing. In addition, the property must be thoroughly cleaned before and after each showing.


Open houses are generally understood to be on a walk-in basis without needing an appointment. Appointment-based showings are not “open houses” in the general understanding of the industry and the public. Therefore, to present a true picture under Article 12 of the Code of Ethics, REALTORS® should conform to the normal understanding of the term.


In other words, REALTORS® should not be putting up Open House signs at all, because if they are advertising a traditional open house they are promoting an unlawful activity, and if they are advertising an “open house” that really isn’t an open house, they are arguably not presenting a true picture in their advertising.