The leaves may be falling and the weather is getting colder but the real estate market is still sizzling from the past summer. And with that, open house season is still in full swing.
Open Houses are a great way for the homebuyer to inspect the property on your own if you're flying solo. And for those who mean serious business, having a realtor in tow shows that you're really in the mood to buy a house. The listing agent usually hosts the open house unless the property is FSBO (For Sale By Owner) and its an opportunity for them to generate foot traffic to the property.
For the home buyer, it's a chance to have a closer look and feel of the home before putting up an offer. But if you're out and about on a Sunday afternoon and chanced upon an open house in an area that you're interested in, here are 10 Things You Need to Know When You Walk Into a Public Open House:
1. Sign In
The first thing to do is to comply with the sign in sheet from the listing agent and usually would ask for basic information such as name, phone number, and address. This is the listing agent's way to know how many people showed up for the open house.
2. Be polite to the host
Like any usual house visits, an open house is no different. Be polite to the host, greet and smile the agent upon arriving and politely thank him/her when leaving. If an agent is trying to solicit your business, politely decline and say that you are already working with an agent.
3. Keep your focus on the property
Determined sellers and agents would usually hand out a property description sheet that has all the information about the house like the number of bedrooms and baths, square footage, source of heat and other information. Review the property sheet and go over the information as you check the house. If you're concerned with square footage, it's a good idea to bring a tape measure as you go around the house.
4. Don't be afraid to ask questions
Ask probing questions politely about the property to the listing agent such as the seller's motivation or if there are any other offers on the property. If you're visiting an older home, don't hesitate to ask what recent updates were made to the house if any as this could pose a serious problem in the long run. This is a great way to show that you are genuinely interested in knowing more about the home.
5. Follow House Rules
Make it a point to follow whatever house rules the listing agent requests or the homeowners. Some homeowners would request for the guests to take off their shoes when entering. It's best to wear comfortable slip-on that is easy to remove if you're looking at houses the entire day.
6. Ask before Taking Photos/Videos
While it will be good to have your own record of the properties that you have visited, it's best to ask permission before taking any photos or videos. Keep in mind, that the home is still someone's private residence.
7. Look, but don't rummage
Some open houses still have the home owner's personal belongings at home, try to be thorough in checking the house but avoid being invasive by going through their cupboards or closets.
Public open houses usually draw a good number of crowds, mostly curious home buyers that are checking the real estate market and what's available. But there is always the serious buyers who are on the prowl looking for their dream home too. Be sure to have your eyes and ears peeled at all times and listen to what they may have observed. They could be a potential competition in bidding but there's an off chance they might notice things that you didn't catch. Listen to what other people are saying and pay attention to their comments as you walk through the house.
9. Check out the neighborhood
When visiting an open house, don't limit yourself to the property, be sure to check out the surrounding area and get a feel of the neighborhood and see if it's something that would fit your family. Walk around and see if it's conveniently located to parks, schools, transit stops and stores.
10. Have fun!
Home buying can sometimes be a long, arduous process and looking for that perfect home can sometimes feel like looking for a needle in a haystack but it goes without saying that open houses take you one step closer to finding your dream home. So don't forget to have fun while visiting other people's homes and learning a lot of new things. Nothing will prepare you for your home search like visiting tons of available homes!