Check out your neighbor's open house without looking obvious.

Amylee Myers isn't nosy, exactly: It's research.

The owner of Real Creative Design is looking for decorating ideas and to satisfy her lake-view fix. "For me, the best house is on the lake," says Myers. (She and her husband are "inland challenged" in Avon.)

"I like to stop in and be the prospective buyer," she reasons. Her justification is twofold: She targets clients in the real estate market for her design services, and "it's just nice to be nosy and check out a good view."

But if you are the overly inquisitive type, beware Peggy Auble, an agent with the Gregg Wasilko Team of Realty One in Rocky River. She can usually spot the curious neighbor before he admits it. (And most everyone eventually says, "I just live down the street," she says. It's just a matter of whether they review the price sheet first.)

Auble held 75 open houses last year and estimates that half of the people who tour them are neighbors.

First, there's the body language: the creep, the poke, the craning of the neck. "They pop their heads in and say, •Hello?' " Auble imitates. Hesitation and a tip-toe approach to the pricing information is a dead giveaway.

Other visual evidence: workout clothes or "very casual attire," Auble says. Out for a walk around the neighborhood, just passing by — these are equally casual greetings neighbors offer when they enter the open house.

Then there are verbal clues: "We're just starting our search" usually means the search party lives next door. Chances are, they're searching no farther than the subdivision.

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