Tuesday, May 1, 2018

How to Make the Most Out of an Open House as a Buyer

One of the many rites of passage involved in searching for a new home is attending an open house. (Chances are you will be attending many open houses in your search for your perfect home!) Though going to open houses is a helpful, necessary, and even exciting part of the home buying process, it can also be intimidating having groups of people in the same space discussing all of the positive and negative traits of the home you’re assessing.

So how do you break through all of the noise and make the most out of your open house experience?

Here are a few tips to consider when attending open houses and how to get the most out of your open house viewing:

1. Figure out what you need... and what you don’t. Knowing what is important to you in a home is crucial. Open houses can help you decipher what your wants are vs. what your needs are and can also help you understand what is realistic in your price range. For example, you may want a gourmet kitchen, but that may not be an available option in homes within your price range.

2. Don’t just window shop. Remember that you are at an open house to assess the home. Purchasing a house is a major life decision, and one you shouldn’t take lightly, so make sure to investigate every part of a home that could potentially be yours. It’s okay to like the decor and paint colors as they are, however it’s also important to review other aspects of the home and ask questions:

  • Windows: Are they new? Will they need to be replaced soon?
  • Roof: Are shingles missing? Is there moss growing?
  • Floors: Is there carpet? Are there hardwood floors underneath?
  • Basement: Is the basement a dry basement? Can you find any damage that has not been repaired?

3. Ask questions. While your agent should be there with you to conduct inquiries at an open house, you should ask questions about the home yourself too. Some good questions to ask the seller’s agent are:
  • Are there any offers in on this home?
  • Why are the sellers moving?
  • When was the house built? Have there been any updates?
  • What are the neighbors like?
  • Where are the schools? How are they rated?
4. Look past aesthetics. It's hard to ignore shag carpet and orange paint, but getting hung up on aspects of a home that can easily be changed can sometimes keep you from seeing the potential a home has. Finding a home that is older, for example, doesn’t mean that it can’t be updated. Overlook outdated decor and pay attention instead to the structure, and other aspects you can’t change, like the neighborhood.

5. Check out the neighborhood. You want to be sure you feel comfortable in the surrounding area of your new home. Drive (or walk) around the home and see what the neighbors are like. Are there people walking around? Are there a lot of families? These are all questions easily answered by taking a look around to see if it’s a place where you can envision living on your own or with your family.

6. Don’t look at too many homes in one day. If you’re ready to start placing offers on homes, be sure not to schedule too many open houses in one day. This is a good way to miss small details, and potentially forget important information you’re looking for or that you mean to ask about. Homes will blend into one another and you may not be able to decipher which one you loved and which one you hated. A good limit is two in one day.