While open houses seem pretty casual, savvy buyers know that checking out a home isn’t just about aesthetics or a quick view. In today’s hot market, you might not get another look before making an offer.
If you aren’t totally sure about how the open-house process works, you aren’t alone. Sometimes homebuyers visit an open house to window shop instead of taking full advantage of the opportunity to get important details about the home. When you visit an open house, you should have several questions prepared for the seller’s agent and you should have already conducted some research, too. You want to leave this process feeling that you have enough information to make a well-informed decision.
Here’s what you need to know about the open-house process:
Know which questions to ask
This is key. In this market, an open house isn’t just a casual gathering of interested buyers, sellers, and agents. It’s a major opportunity for you to feel out the home while also getting crucial information.
1. How many offers have been made?
You should always ask the real estate agent if any offers have already been made. If there are multiple offers on the home, it could indicate that the property might sell quickly. If there aren’t any offers yet, then the opposite might be true.
2. Why are the sellers moving?
The sellers could be moving because one of the owners got a new job across the country. Or they could be moving because the home’s maintenance is unaffordable and the repairs are getting more burdensome. Always make sure to get to the bottom of this.
3. How long as the property been on the market? Why?
The context will provide you with useful information that gives you a better idea of how fast you’ll need to take action and how competitive the offer process might be.
4. When was the house built? Has it ever gotten updates?
You want to make sure that you know when the home was built and if there have been any updates or renovations. Check on key features of the home, such as the roof, piping or electrical wiring.
5. What the costs of utilities?
Too often, utilities are an afterthought in the home-buying process. But this is a property you are thinking about living in, and that means you’ll need lights, running water, heat, air conditioning and working sewer pipes.
6. How eager is the seller to sell the property? Is it an urgent sale or can it happen at any time?
Just as it is important to know why the seller is moving, it is also important to know how eager they are to sell and what their timeline looks like. If the seller needs to offload the house in a hurry, then perhaps they might be willing to consider a lower offer. But if the seller isn’t motivated, then the process might not move very quickly.
7. What are the neighbors like? Have there ever been any issues?
You aren’t just buying a property. You are also going to be spending the majority of your time in a new neighborhood.
8. What/where are the schools? How are they rated?
Schools are a huge issue for homebuyers. You can check how the local school district is rated online, but nothing beats asking people in person.