If you are serious about an open house, it would make sense to make the most of your time. You might think the open house is to get a “feel” for the home on the inside. However, it is also a chance to talk directly to the listing agent of the property. Here are some important things to consider when you visit your next open house.
Why Are They Selling?
You probably won’t get a real answer from the agent if it has anything to do with bad schools or an unsafe neighborhood. But you might want to see how the agent responds. If the answer seems off or they are scrambling to think of something, you probably will want to do some of your own research.
Want a secret to get a more competitive price? Find out the price history. If the seller is on a strict time frame, they probably will be more willing accept an offer below the listed price. Of course, don’t try to low ball the price to a ridiculous amount. It is important to keep in mind the local real estate market. In today’s market, you might be one of 5-8 offers.
Related Reading: Fair & Market Value Explained!
Don’t just ask if the neighbors are “bad” people. But find out what kind of lifestyle the neighborhood lives. Is it a large group of families with kids? Adults with no kids? Is there night life nearby? It probably sounds like common sense, but these are things you want to know before you buy.
Do you see any empty lots or vacant property nearby? Ask around to see if you can find out the zoning or if there is any plans for those lots. It could definitely change the value and atmosphere of the neighborhood.
You will probably already know if there is HOA fees (unless you find the open house while driving around). The better questions to ask is how active is the HOA and what are the restrictions?
Once you get more serious about a property, definitely take the time to look over the rules, sit in on a meeting, or get the minutes from the last meeting. It can play a huge role in how you live in your house. It is something you do not want to overlook. Don’t find your dream home to only have your life be miserable when you can’t live under the HOA restrictions.
Roof & Foundation
When was the roof last replaced or repaired? Will it need fixing in the next few years?
Walk around the house to see if you notice any issues or obvious problems with the foundation. If you see something, ask if they had it looked it and if there is a plan of action. If buying a house is leaving you with a strict budget, it would be better to move into a home without these lingering problems.
Remember: Establish Who Is Representing At The Open House
Showing up to open houses without your real estate representation can cause problems. According to MarketWatch:
The reason often boils down to commissions, which is how real estate agents get paid. Listing agents, the ones who run the open houses, represent the seller. They have a fiduciary responsibility to represent the seller’s best interests, which, not surprisingly, are often in conflict with the buyer’s best interests.
Miller recommends buyers work with an exclusive buyer’s agent who makes sure the buyer’s best interests are protected when they go into contract and closing. Typically, the buyer’s and seller’s agents will split the commission. But if a listing agent shows a buyer an open house, that person could claim that he or she has done all the work and refuse to share the commission with another agent. At an open house, just by walking in the door on their own, buyers create the potential for a commission dispute.
What is your game plan when you visit an open house? Share with us in the comments below!