What is your plan for your next open house?
If you are in the market for a new home, you have probably spent more than a few Saturdays attending open houses. Although they can be a lot of fun, they are also your best opportunity to see potential homes up close.
Even experienced buyers can arrive unprepared for open houses, so first time homebuyers may feel unsure or nervous about approaching their first few open houses; however, there is no need to feel worried! An open house should be a welcoming environment where both the potential buyers and realtors can get to know one another and learn more about the home.
Before going to your next open house, it is helpful to give some thought to what you want to get out of it. To help new and experienced buyers, we have prepared a guide to help you make the most of an open house—keep reading to learn more.
When you are searching for homes, it can be overwhelming. You are likely trying to keep track of multiple open house dates and times, and it can be easy to confuse different properties in your mind.
To make things simple, we recommend always jotting down notes on open house tours. Use the various addresses as headers on each page and write down anything important that you want to keep track of.
This might include questions for the realtor, concerns about the property, or impressive features that you really liked. You can refer to your notes later on to make decisions about which properties you are the most interested in.
Buying a home, especially for the first time, can be very stressful. Taking notes helps you avoid one of the common house hunting mistakes of rushing to put in an offer before you are ready or missing out on big flaws in the home.
Pay Attention to the Neighbors
When you visit an open house, it is worth taking some time to look at the homes of your potential neighbors but from a distance.
Are the homes well-kept? Does the yard look neglected or messy? Bad neighbors can be a nightmare for any homeowner, so look closely to see if anything about the nearby homes could indicate a potential problem.
For example, if dogs are barking while you visit for the open home, the loud barking probably will not go away after you move in.
Check for Storage Space
When touring different rooms at the open house, keep an eye out in each area for storage space. Storage is something everyone needs, so do not be afraid to open closet doors, look in drawers, and check out the bathroom storage, but be respectful for the owner's belongings.
You may have seen the home online, via a 3D tour that companies like Hommati feature on their website, but visiting in real life allows you to better scope out how much storage the home has. Although there are a few ways to add more storage to a home, it is generally preferred to find a property with ample options for all your personal items.
If the basement is not finished, this is something you can do as a homeowner to add more space, if you do not mind the expense.
At an Open House, Respect the Wishes of the Owners
It seems obvious, but many potential buyers do not always think about the owners themselves at open houses. You always want to make a good impression on both the owners of the home and the realtors.
If the owners do not want shoes in the home, for example, leave them at the door to be polite. It is also recommended not to bring young children or pets into an open house, as they can be distractions to other attendees and can make messes in the home.
It is also a good idea to respect the other potential buyers and not crowd them, as everyone deserves an equal opportunity to view the home.
Look for Signs of Neglect
When visiting an open house, try not to get distracted by beautiful staging or fresh flowers. Instead, view each room of the home with a critical eye.
Look for cracks in the paint or walls, older plumbing or HVAC systems, signs of neglect, or a sagging roof. These can all be signs that the current homeowner has not looked after the property to the highest standard, leaving the new buyers with possible expensive home repairs.
Check Under Sinks for Mold or Water Damage
Mold is something that can often be hard to see, but it can cause big problems to a home. If a home has previously sustained any flooding or water damage, there is a chance that mold could be present.
While sometimes mold is obvious, it also loves to hide in dark, damp places. Look under sinks, in bathrooms, in the basement, and even under the deck for any mold or mildew.
If you cannot see it, you may be able to smell it, as mold tends to have a musty or earthy smell. Although mold can be treated, it is not good for the walls or your home, and it can also cause health problems.
Keep an Eye Out for Hidden Problems
If a home is fully furnished during the open house, some of the walls and floors may be blocked. Of course, there is also the chance that furniture has been placed intentionally, blocking scrapes on walls or damaged flooring.
It is not appropriate to move around someone else’s furniture, but do try to look past it as much as you can, checking for any holes, scrapes, or damage to the drywall, broken bricks or tiles, or sagging floorboards.
While most sellers are honest and will disclose any damage to the property, it is still a good idea to examine each property with caution.
Ask the Right Questions
In addition to surveying the home and walking around, asking questions to the realtor or seller is another important aspect of the open house.
It helps to know in advance what questions you want to ask, as time can sometimes be limited. Here are a few to keep in mind for your next open house.
Why Are the Owners Selling?
It can be useful to know why the current owners are selling. Are they relocating for work, downsizing, or is it something more concerning, such as problems with the neighborhood or the school district?
Knowing why the owners are selling can also help you figure out how much of a hurry they are in. For example, if they need to move for work, they may need to leave town quickly to start their job, meaning they are looking for a quick sale.
This can help you gauge how much you should offer and whether or not the owners might accept it.
How Long Has the Property Been on the Market?
It is also good to know how long a property has been listed. This helps you understand the state of the market. If a property has been for sale for a few months or longer, the owners are probably more willing to accept a lower offer.
What Is the Neighborhood Like?
If you are not local to the area, it is a good idea to ask about the neighborhood. What is the general make-up of the area? This could be young families, retirees, single professionals, or a mix. Knowing more about the neighborhood helps you work out if it is a good fit for you and your lifestyle.
If you have young children, for example, it is nice to live in an area with other families, so your kids will have plenty of playmates.
When Was the Home Built?
Knowing the age of a home is important—so is knowing if the home still has its original roof, heating system, and appliances.
While a roof can last for decades, they do not last forever, and it is something you may need to replace. Knowing the age of the home and its parts can help you work out when the next roof or AC replacement will need to be done.
Make the Most of an Open House with These Tips
An open house is an exciting opportunity to check out homes on your short list, but you need to arrive prepared to make the most of the day. Use the tips above to work out a plan of attack for your next open house visit. By knowing which questions to ask and what to look for, you will leave with an overall picture of the home and the neighborhood, helping you make the best possible decision.
If you are looking for more open homes in your area, have a look at Hommati. We are one of the largest real estate websites in the country, with plenty of listings in your area.
Please contact us with any questions, or search for listings in your desired location. We look forward to helping you and your family find the perfect property.