The Commonwealth Blog

Friday, April 13, 2018

10 Tips for Home Buyers to Get the Most Out of Open Houses

If you read a few descriptions about homes for sale, you’ll quickly realize that they’re trying to paint a perfect picture about the property. Open houses give you the chance to check out the reality of the situation and gain some insight into what you’d be getting for your money, whether you already have a Realtor or not. We’ve put together ten tips to help you make the most of your outing.

Wear Appropriate Clothing

Remember that you’ll be spending a fair amount of time walking around as you explore inside and outside the property. That means that while you may want to make a striking impression on the agent hosting the open house, you need to wear something comfortable. At the same time, you don’t want to make a bad impression by wearing clothing that may make it seem like you can’t afford the home.

Have a Plan for Browsing

It helps to arrive early to try and beat the crowd, especially since you’ll have a little time to have the agent to yourself if you want to ask any questions. What’s more, you can take an afternoon to visit more than one open house in the same area. Having a plan lets you do all this at your own pace.

Give Yourself Time to Look Around

You don’t want to rush your way through a property, since you’ll miss the elements that may make you think the property definitely is (or isn’t) the one you want to purchase. You may want to take a look around the neighborhood as well. If you’re planning on visiting more than one property, be sure you’ve given yourself enough time to visit each, including travel.

Be Polite to the Host

You may not want to hear a sales pitch, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the agent hosting the open house. Be sure you sign in, and avoid criticizing the property while you’re there. Don’t arrive at an open house at the last minute, when the hosting agent is ready to head out.

But Don’t Give Anything Away

Chatting with the hosting agent can be a great way of gathering information about the property but bear in mind that the agent will probably also be trying to gather information about you. They may be trying to gauge how serious you are as a buyer, or they may be gathering information that puts them in a stronger position during negotiations. Don’t share information about your income or when you need to move. This information is better saved for the buyer’s agent who will represent you.

Keep an Eye on Features

Buying a home is about more than just getting the square feet you want. Be sure you’re looking for elements that you want in the perfect home (e.g., the size of closets) and don’t be afraid to bring a tape measure to check whether your furniture will fit.

Look Out for Property Issues

You don’t want to be surprised by outdated plumbing, wiring, cracks in the foundation, or areas where water will pool. Keep an eye on the landscaping too. You want to avoid buying a home that will obviously require costly changes or repairs in the future, and if you decide you want the home anyway, knowing they’re there will put you in a stronger position.

Take Photos or Video, But Only with Permission

Photos and video are a great reference for you later when you’re considering different properties. However, many times an open house is actually still being lived in. Respect the current owner’s privacy and ask before you pull out your camera.

Don’t Be Nosy

Similarly, being at an open house doesn’t give you permission to go through the current owner’s belongings. If a room is closed, ask if you can look inside. Don’t rummage through drawers, and don’t peek inside medicine cabinets or other sensitive places.

But Do Pay Attention to What Others Are Saying

Other potential buyers are technically your competition, but they may also know something about the area that you don’t. Pay attention to their reactions to the home to see if they noticed something you didn’t.

Open houses can provide the perfect opportunity to get a feel for a property that you’re interested in and its neighborhood without having to worry about a hard sell. The ten tips will help you make the most of your experience and help to keep you in a strong bargaining position.

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