An open house is unlikely to be the way that you find your new home. According to data from the National Association of Realtors, just 7 percent of 2019’s homebuyers found their new homes via an open house. That’s a pittance compared to the 28 percent who discovered their new residences through a real estate agent or the 50 percent who found theirs online. However, that doesn’t mean that open houses are useless. When you understand the benefits of open houses and follow these open house tips for buyers, you can appreciate the advantages of this popular real estate tool.
Open House Tips for Buyers
An open house might not lead you directly to the house, but it can help narrow the field. As HomeLight indicates, open houses are fantastic opportunities to explore your possibilities. Check out neighborhoods or floorplans that interest you. Learn how much house you can get for a certain price in a specific market. See what different features, styles, and sizes look like in the real world. Even if the specific house that you tour clearly isn’t the one, the information that you gather during your visit can help inform your house search. These open house tips for buyers will help you get the most out of the experience.
Mind Your Manners
There is a certain etiquette that’s expected when you attend open houses. Following this etiquette is more than good manners. After all, the home that you’re touring could be your dream home. If that’s the case, and you’re in a competitive market, then making a bad impression could hurt your chances of securing the winning bid. Fortunately, open house etiquette is fairly simple:
- Dress neatly, and don’t bring food or pets.
- When you enter the home, be ready to take off your shoes or wear booties upon request.
- Greet the agent politely, and sign in if it’s required.
- Respect other guests. Wait for them to leave a room before entering.
- Respect the house. Don’t go through the homeowner’s things or put your feet on their furniture.
- Avoid using the bathroom if possible.
- Feel free to open the closets and the cabinets to better envision the space.
- Accept handouts, and take notes.
- Communicate with the agent politely. Ask questions, provide feedback, but don’t provide information that would compromise your own negotiating power.
Ask Smart Questions
Some people attend open houses as a hobby. They’re just passing the time and satisfying their curiosity. If you’re a serious buyer, then you’re interested in gathering information, and asking questions is a good way to do that. Forbes suggests having a list of questions like the following ready for the agent:
- When was the house built? Has it been updated?
- How much are utilities?
- Why are the sellers selling?
- Are they eager to sell?
- How long has the home been on the market?
- Have there been many offers? How many?
- What are the neighbors like?
- What are the schools like?
Watch for Red Flags
Every open house you attend is also an opportunity to hone your eye for red flags. Staging can be used to mask flaws that could indicate larger problems. Learning to spot them can help you avoid headaches and heartbreak. Moneycrashers advises that you should proceed with extra caution if you note any of the following:
- Strong Fragrances: Perfumes and air fresheners are often used to mask the persistent presence of unpleasant odors like cigarette smoke, pet accidents, or mold.
- Neglect: If you notice signs that little things have been let go, major systems may also have been neglected.
- Recent Renovations: When renovations are done for the purpose of putting a home on the market, the buyer may have cut corners. The work should be checked thoroughly before the sale.
- Unfinished Construction: An incomplete project is a sign of trouble. Did the seller run out of time or money? Was there a structural issue?
- Neighborhood Sales: If several homes in the neighborhood are on the market, you’ll want to know why before you settle there. Is there a problem that is causing people to flee the area?