Open House 101: How to Make the Most of your Visit

After 5 back-to-back Open Houses this weekend, it reminded me that there are all types of people that visit the homes on the market. I met neighbors, relatives and friends of potential buyers, curious explorers, active buyers, and realtors. It was wonderful to meet everyone. If you are truly exploring the real estate market and want to make the most of your visits, there are tricks of the trade.

Whether you are in the market for a home or not, the opportunity to visit an open house may arrive unexpectedly. You might be doing some research online, browsing through Social Media, or you may even simply be driving by and you see the signs beckoning you to come and take a closer look. Sometimes an open house visit is a catalyst for starting a search for a new home and you may find yourself in the market quicker than you think.

There is an art to visiting an open house. It is a much different experience visiting on your own than with a real estate professional. Here are my top five things to keep in mind during an open house:

1.     The Neighborhood – Often you are looking on your phone and for signage to determine location, so pay close attention to the area as you drive. The neighborhood is a key component of your investment, so don’t go down the rabbit hole of being excited about the house when the area is not in line with your investment goals. Remember – location, location, location!

2.     Curb Appeal – Once you park your car, take the time to assess the front of the home. Check the roof quickly if you can see it, look at the landscaping, state of the yard, state of the driveway, etc. Look for tell-tale signs of neglect or maintenance issues.

3.     The Agent – The agent hosting the open house may be the listing agent or an agent the listing agent has authorized to hold the home open. Therefore there are some key questions you might have that the agent may not know the answer to. Don’t let this scare you off; this is just how it works. The agent may follow up and ask you if you are working with another agent. You should say that you are because then I can follow up with the listing agent, do some digging, get your questions answered, and this way you clearly have your own strong representation.

4.     Hype – If the open house is busy, this can lead to a sense of urgency. If the home is priced well and demand is high, it may indeed be a home that is going under contract quickly. However, if there are clear issues such as a bad roof, it is on a busy street, or cosmetically there are a lot of issues to address, although the price may have encouraged people to come out, the buyer pool will shrink the more issues the home has. My point? Don’t let a crowd encourage you to make decisions that are not in your best interest.

5.     Due Diligence – It is important to use great judgement when investing your money and good judgement takes time. Check the systems, roof, foundation, appliances and more via an inspection. Allow me the time I need to do some research on the home’s history and market price.

Open houses are a great way to view properties on your own, maybe even dream of properties that are otherwise outside your budget, see home design trends in action, and even get reintroduced to the real estate market. But don’t get carried away. If you see something you like, give me a call right away and I can provide you with the information you need and make a plan that keeps your interests at the forefront.