Whether you’re just getting started in the home buying process, or even if you’re a seasoned and experienced buyer, successfully navigating an open house can be a little tricky. There are certain questions to ask, specific questions to avoid, and it’s important to gain the information you need without coming across as too eager or committed. Follow these simple steps for success!
Do Your Research
Before you even step foot in the door, do a little bit of research for yourself. Investigate the areas of town you enjoy most – or where you would most like to live. Spend some time there “feeling it out,” and determining if the commute time to work, church, schools, the gym, etc. fits into your ideal parameters. Then, once you’ve established a neighborhood, begin looking online at prices in the area – what’s currently for sale and what has recently sold – so that you have an idea of appropriate pricing and if the area fits into your budget.
Once you determine a few open houses to attend on a Saturday or Sunday, arrive early in the game and observe. Savvy home buyers are likely scoping out the ‘hood too, and by observing their body language and their reaction to the home, you can glean much about “popular opinion” in terms of listing price and quality. If other buyers are walking in and out without asking any questions, the home is likely in poor shape or overpriced (or both). If prospective buyers are hanging around asking the agent lots of questions, it’s likely the home is priced to sell and may be a good bet. **Tip** Agents are also scoping out serious buyers and are likely to respond with great vigor and seriousness to those who they feel are really down to business and not just out for a weekend drive.
Keep your eyes and ears peeled for any sort of obvious issues with the house – sinking or cracked foundation and walls, damp or musty smells, moisture leaks, and any other “red flags” that would caution you to steer clear to avoid future problems.
If you feel you’ve established some interest after touring the home, begin to ask questions.
- How many days has the home been on the market?
- Has there been any price changes on the listing?
- How long have the current owners lived there?
- Does the home and neighborhood have an HOA?
- What are the average utility costs each month?
Questions like these will help you understand more about the home, but don’t necessarily establish an overly committed eagerness towards the property or the agent. And, remember, the agent will also be shopping for buyers, just as you’re shopping for a home. So, providing your contact information equates to a high likelihood of future contact – so if you’re not ready for a sales call or are already working with an agent, don’t give too much information away!