For the beginning, let’s ask ourselves – should we go to an open house or not? Like many buyers, you might have heard that attending open houses is a must when buying a house. Actually, there are some good benefits and reasons to do so. Firstly, open houses will tell you how strong the interest for that exact property is. Secondly, neighbors usually go to open houses, and this can be a great opportunity to ask them some questions and learn about the community. Besides, you will have a good chance to really understand what the perfect area for you is. Only one little thing – remember that the agent running an open house is not your best friend. He or she is a seller’s agent and wants you to like the home. So be a bit careful not to make any fast decision. You can also send your agent’s contact information if you’re interested in the property so that your realtor can check the house and follow-up.
You need a few minutes to find all open houses in any area and any time schedule. Just go and google an open house or try to check Redfin, Zillow, Trulia. Most buyers and just interested people love Sunday open houses. So if you don’t like too noisy and crowded events, find an open house for some other day.
Here you should keep in mind some do’s and don’ts. If you’re interested in the home and want a further follow-up, you should leave not your personal contacts, but those of your agent. If you start working with the seller agent, you’ll then have to pay commissions, and it becomes more difficult to work with your own agent. When attending new construction open house, be sure to get your agent’s confirmation. You can stay at the open house as long as you want. But if you need a detailed tour, you’d better go for it with your agent. Try to be extremely patient to what other buyers ask. Also, remember not to sit down on a chair or sofa before checking out whether it’s a real one or a staging ornament.
You know each open house is a case study. You can have a notebook with yourself and do some fast checkouts while the shower speaks or answers a question. There might be some numbers or important details you can’t remember the next day to discuss with your agent or family members. When you’re at an open house, be sure to pay attention at home’s age, architectural style, number and size of a bedroom, a location of bathrooms and more. Here is the full list RedFin provides:
- Architectural style
- Home age
- Number/location of bedrooms
- Number/location of bathrooms
- Size of rooms
- Presence of basement, attic, and storage
- Closet space
- Number of floors
- Number of bedrooms on each floor
- Presence of a master bedroom
- Sightlines through home
- Age of electrical wires and plumbing
- Mother-in-law units
- Amount of natural light
- Age/type of heating systems
- Proximity to mass transit
- Open vs. traditional floor plan
- Home size (square footage)
- Property (land) size
- Noise levels (inside and outside the home)
- Neighborhood “feel”
- Proximity to neighboring homes
- Proximity to schools or parks
- Outdoor pools and tubs
- Porches and decks
- Garage capacity/parking
- Remodeling opportunities
- Source of drinking water
- Public sewage or septic system
- Presence of radon, asbestos, or lead paint
Some people may just visit open houses to spend their time and have a good cup of coffee with their neighbors and new people. If you’re going to buy a house you should focus on the property when attending an open house. Sellers usually provide some paperwork, some notes about the house. Take your time to take some notes as well and check any feature while walking through the house. As we’ve mentioned above, there are some points you might be really interested in.
Some listed houses can be already empty and staged by a professional, still, some may be a space people live in while the open houses are held. So before taking photos and/or videos remember you’re in someone’s private place and you should ask first. Of course, a good seller will take away his personal items and pictures any way you’d better ask the host about taking a shot.
Sure you’re not buying any house if you don’t like it. And you don’t have to buy the house just because you’ve attended an open house. So, if you noticed any bad points, try not to talk about it to the homeowner or the host or even the other potential buyers. This is still someone’s property and they may be in love with it even if they are selling it. Make notes to discuss those bad points with your agent or family members. Criticizing the home may also be a disadvantage for yourself, if at the end you decide to buy the home, the owner may just not accept your offer.
Learn from the crowd
Before coming to the open house people might have already done some research and they may tell about the results. So be careful and listen to them. You don’t have to speak about your own research but you can learn some details you haven’t thought about or paid attention to. You can also ask some questions to the agent: for example about the neighborhood or schools in that area. If the agent doesn’t have any information about what you want to know, keep calm and just try to find someone else who knows and will consult you.
And in the end
Be polite to the homeowner, his agent, and others attending the open house. Smile to the host, even if you’re visiting your 20th open house and are already fed up. Do not forget to wear a comfortable suit. You’re not going to a banquet. You may spend a few hours at the open house going up and down the stairs several times. So try to be in what is comfy for you and stay appropriate when choosing your outfit.
By: Hermine Aslanyan
Questions to Ask a Listing Agent at an Open House by Bill Gassett
9 Reminders Why Open Houses Are A Lot Like First Dates by Xavier De Buck
Tips to Avoid Getting Robbed at an Open House by Anita Clark