Regardless of the type of buyer you are there are a number of benefits you can get out of attending open for inspections, besides free coffee and cookies.
Smart homebuyers use open houses to shop around for a good real estate agent, to browse multiple houses quickly and gauge the amount of interest there is in a property or particular area.
Here are three helpful hints for buyers looking to make the most of their open house visits.
It doesn’t take long for one property to blur into another, especially if you’re viewing multiple homes in one day. For this reason we strongly recommend taking a notepad and pen along when attending open houses. As you go through different properties note down the features you like and dislike. Even take pictures to act as visual reminders to review at the end of the day, but check with the agent first if it is okay.
Don’t get too caught up in judging the décor, furniture and objects inside the home, as all these things can be changed later to suit your taste. When going through a property focus on characteristics of the house itself like the layout, size, storage space and the condition and quality of kitchen finishes and bathroom fittings.
While at the open house pay attention to how the other buyers react and what they say about the home. You can get a lot of information about the marketability, your potential competition and amount of interest in a property by watching the other people at the inspection.
If you see people walking in and out quickly you can deduce that the home might be overpriced or has issues. If you observe a long queue to view the home, notice a lot of people hanging around and asking the agent a lot of questions these are signs of a ‘hot’ in demand area or maybe a new or reasonably priced listing.
Speak with the agent
When looking around at open houses you should be open to meeting an agent for your own selling or buying needs. Use your open for inspection visits as a way to interview agents who you might want to work with at a later date. Keep your eyes peeled for especially helpful, knowledgeable, active and professional agents or simply those that you ‘click with’. Some of the best agent and client relationships begin at open for inspections.
Having a chat with the agent is also a great opportunity to get any questions you have about the property or neighbourhood answered. Talking with the agent will give you a better feel for the home more so than you can ever get from the online listing and photos. Ask questions to learn more about the history and features of the property, but always keep in mind the agent is trying to sell the home and will be painting the most attractive picture possible.
Also be careful how much and what information you share with the agent. It is wise to keep some cards close to your chest, like your budget for instance. If you’re planning on making an offer on the home the agent can use the knowledge of your maximum buying capacity against you in negotiations. You should be honest about your level of interest and what you like or don’t like about the home. Sharing your opinion can be a useful for the agent to give the seller feedback and to use in negotiating the sale price down the track.
Here are 14 worthwhile questions to ask an agent at an open house about…
1. Has the seller made any modifications or renovations?
2. Do you have recent building inspection, soil and survey reports on the home?
3. Are there any major property disclosures?
4. Are there floorboards under the carpeting?
5. Why are the owners selling?
6. How long has the home been on the market?
7. How long have the current owners lived here?
interest in the marketplace.
8. How many inspections have you had?
9. How has the traffic been today?
10. Have you had any offers yet?
11. Do you have any similar properties listed at the moment?
making an offer.
12. What are the owner’s expecting for a sale price?
13. Are the seller’s open to negotiate/ open to offers below the asking price?
14. Is there a specific date lined up for the seller to review offers?
Open houses are a great way to get a feel for what you can afford, what you like and dislike, to find a good agent and learn about the property market. Going around to open for inspections can be time consuming but are definitely worth the time and energy to find the perfect place to live.
Happy house hunting!