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Why aren’t the homeowners there during the open house?
Real estate agents will tell home owners to stay away from the open house because they might make prospective buyers refrain from asking questions that might be rude (e.g. how old is that wallpaper?). But, another unsaid benefit for the agent is they can use the open house to pick up new clients. They figure that the people stopping by are interested in buying a new house somewhere, not necessarily the one they are having the open house for. But they will get their email address and add them to their mailing list and hopefully become their agent down the road.