Buying a Home? How to Make the Most of an Open House Visit
Published February 22, 2017
An open house is a good time to learn about a property that you are interested in. It also offers an opportunity to check out the competition.
Buying a home is a process that requires endless research that begins with using an open house as an opportunity to decide if you want to make a serious offer. When attending an open house, you should always come prepared. Make sure that you have done some initial research on the property. Then use the open house as an opportunity to fill in any gaps that exist in your knowledge about the property.
As you visit open house events, you should be able to get a better sense of what you are looking for and what you are not looking for in a new home. Open houses are intended to provide you with deeper insight into a property than the online home listings can provide. If you are looking to purchase a home in a particular area, you should plan on visiting several open house events before making a decision on a property to buy.
You can also use an open house event as an opportunity to learn the market in your area. Open house events can give an insight into the styles of homes that are available in the area that you are researching, as well as, the amenities that they offer.
The best part about attending an open house event is the fact that it does not require any commitment. You are under no obligation to make an offer on a property and it will cost you nothing. If you are trying to buy a home, visiting open house events is the best way to learn the market. Here are some tips on how to make the most of an open house visit.
Do Your Research Online
Doing your research on a property prior to visiting the open house, can save you a lot of time. If the property doesn’t look like something that you might be interested in buying from the online home listing photos, don’t bother going to the open house. Realtors spend a lot of time making sure that a home is portrayed in the best light in online listings. Therefore, if the home isn’t pleasing to you online, it is unlikely to be a better deal in-person.
However, if there is limited information available about a property online, it does not hurt to get more information from your real estate agent before you decide not to pursue an open house event at the property. You may find that the lack of information is due to the fact that the property has not been on the market for very long.
Carrying a bit of paper with your or using your favorite smartphone app to take notes on a property is a good idea. It makes it much easier for you to remember exactly what you saw at each property. After a few days or weeks have passed since the open house, all of your experiences may start to blend together, making it difficult for you to remember which properties stood out and for what reasons. Writing everything down can help you to keep things straight even after your memory begins to fail you.
Watch the Behavior of Other Potential Buyers
At an open house you should always make sure that you watch the behavior of other potential buyers at the open house. The behavior of other potential buyers can give you some serious clues about the property and whether other buyers are interested or not. “You can tell a lot about the activity and marketability of a home by watching the other buyers. If you observe a lot of people walking in and out quickly, the home probably has some issues.” says Brendon DeSimone, founder and principal of DeSimone & Co. “Are the buyers hanging around, asking questions of the listing agent and huddling in the corner talking to their spouses or partners? If so, it could be a sign this is a well-priced and “hot” listing. If you’re interested too, observing other buyers at the open house could help you learn about the competition.”
If you are searching for a home in a market that is highly competitive, you should be ready to take action as soon as you see a property that interests you. Therefore, you should make sure that you have already taken the necessary steps to demonstrate to the listing agent that you are a serious potential buyer. Obtain pre-qualification for a mortgage prior to visiting the open house event, if you want to make offers on the home right away.
Bring a List of Questions to Ask
You will probably know a bit about the property before you arrive, thanks to your real estate agent. However, once you arrive at the open house, you should have a list of questions to ask the listing agent. These questions don’t necessarily have to be about the property itself. You might have questions about the neighborhood, amenities nearby or other homes in the area.
Use the open house as an opportunity to get as much information as you need in order to decide if it is a good idea to make an offer on the property. Buying the right property requires that you do your research thoroughly. Therefore, don’t be shy about asking questions because you will likely want to ask them anyway after you make an offer. Asking questions can also help you to avoid nasty surprises later on, such as significant costs for repair work or title issues, that you didn’t anticipate.