Sure, open houses are a fun opportunity to tour your neighbor’s home and judge their decorating choices and home staging skills. But if you’re seriously considering buying a home this year, open houses can be an excellent opportunity to wade into the buying pool and get your feet wet.
Open houses can be beneficial to first-time homebuyers and those who are thinking about moving up. They’re a great way to meet local real estate agents and reacquaint yourself with the jargon of homebuying. More importantly, once you are ready to buy, open houses may be your one opportunity to ask questions directly of the listing agent.
Hey, Sellers – Are you wondering if open houses are for you? Scroll down to find out if open houses are really worth the hassle.
Many questions will naturally come up as you tour the home room by room. In order to take advantage of the unique opportunities present during open houses, you should arrive prepared to ask the questions that are less obvious. Here are 10 important questions to ask at the next open house you attend.
1. How Many Offers have been Made?
This question is a win-win for you and the listing agent. If there have been several offers already (or if the agent anticipates more after the open house), he or she will let you know in hopes that you will bid up and increase the contract price for their client. But if you’re not interested enough to join a bidding war (or if you were hoping to bid low in hopes that the seller would meet you), it could be your sign to move on to another home.
2. How Long has the Home Been at this Price?
The answer to this question tells you two things: First, it signals how long the home has been on the market (or whether the seller has been recently motivated to sell quickly for a lower bid). Second, it lets you know how confident the agent is in the current price, and thus whether the price is somewhat flexible. Keep in mind that a home that has been on the market for a long time will be overlooked by many buyers, even if the price was just significantly reduced, which could mean a good opportunity for you.
3. Why do the Sellers want to Move?
Agents will jump at the opportunity to let you know if their sellers’ move has nothing to do with the home or neighborhood. For instance, it could be that the owner was recently promoted to the Chicago office or that they wanted to downsize after their children graduated college. On the other hand, loud neighbors, increased neighborhood crime, or other local factors could play a role in their move. In that case, it’s beneficial to ask the seller’s agent directly to gauge his or her response.
4. What is the Seller’s Timeline?
This question is often related to the three above, but sometimes the seller’s motivation and timeline are at odds. Are the sellers in a hurry to place a contract on the home so they can begin their own home search? Would they rather delay the closing until after the school year ends to make the move easier for their kids? Knowing their motivation could both help you with your negotiations and prevent any roadblocks down the line.
5. What Issues does the House have?
A written seller’s disclosure is commonly provided to interested buyers—so if you’re interested in the home, ask for one! Asking the listing agent about issues directly may provide more useful information about the home not typically included in a disclosure. Be sure to ask about structural problems and whether that fantastic addition is up to code. This is also a good time to ask about radon tests, lead paint (if the home was built before 1978), asbestos, mold, or whether the home is in a flood zone.
6. When was the house last updated?
It’s easy to determine whether the bathroom wallpaper and kitchen stove have been in the home since the first time the OJ trial made headlines. What isn’t always obvious is the age of the roof and electrical systems. Use the Beverly-Hanks Open House and Home Tour Checklist to assess the age of features room by room. Ask about anything that isn’t apparent to you.
7. How Much are Monthly Utilities?
Asking about the cost of heating in the winter and cooling in the summer tell you a lot about a home. Would replacing an old furnace potentially cut your gas bill in half? Is a lot of heat lost through the windows? Is that wonderful sun-filled office nothing but a heat trap in the summer? Especially if you’re a first-time buyer or you’re moving up to a multi-level home, the cost of utilities could make a big impact on your budget.
8. What’s the Neighborhood Like?
Are there green spaces, parks, and public amenities nearby? Can you enjoy the benefits of living near an interstate without constant traffic noise? Is this the next up-and-coming part of town filled with late-night activity? The perfect home should come with the perfect lifestyle for you. Ask about the details that would make it a great place for you to Live the Life You Choose.
9. Where can I get a Good Burger/Coffee/Sushi Roll around Here?
In addition to being experts about the home for sale, the listing agent should also be an expert in the surrounding neighborhood and community. If you’re not familiar with the area, this is a great way to learn about local watering holes or shopping centers. After the open house, try to follow the agent’s directions to the suggested spot. Don’t just use the open house to imagine yourself in the home—use it to imagine yourself in the neighborhood.
10. What will it Take to Buy this Home?
Don’t overplay your hand here, but don’t avoid this question, either. Knowing the seller’s motivation and timeline are important to negotiations, but knowing what else is important to the seller could position you ahead of other bidders. Would they be swayed by a larger down payment? Do they really care about whether you plan to bulldoze the tree they carved their initials into in 1985? If you’re serious about buying that particular home, this question could help shift the conversation in your favor.
6 Questions Buyers Should Answer for Open House Agents
Depending on how serious you are about your home search, open houses could be merely a fun afternoon for you. But for the open house agent, it’s a workday. Your feedback helps agents do their job well, and if you are looking to buy, it could help you along in your process.
Don’t miss out because you’re afraid of a hard sell—it’s the agent’s job to help connect you to this property. Here are six questions agents are likely to ask you during your open house visit. (Click through to realtor.com to read more about why these questions are helpful.)
- How long have you been looking?
- Are you working with an agent exclusively?
- How does this house compare to others you’ve seen?
- Are you specifically looking at this neighborhood?
- What do you think of the price?
- Are you considering making an offer on this home?
Sellers: Are Open Houses Worth Your Time?
According to industry research, one in two buyers visits an open house before buying! The higher a home’s exposure, the greater the interest. More interest often leads to a higher sales price and a quicker sale. With that train of logic, why wouldn’t you want to hold an open house?
Exposing listings to the widest possible audience is an essential strategy for sellers. And while it is uncommon to sell a home at an open house, they provide an excellent opportunity to increase your home’s exposure online and in local newspapers. However, there are times when open houses are not an appropriate choice. If your home is remote, you are unable to leave, or you’re in need of high levels of privacy, it may be better to discuss other marketing strategies with your agent.
Begin Your Open House Search this Sunday!
Open houses are an excellent way to begin your home search. After all, who can argue with learning your options through a self-guided afternoon tour? Online research through beverly-hanks.com is great for gathering information, but nothing can replace visiting a home in person.
Review this Sunday’s open houses hosted by Beverly-Hanks & Associates.
Download the Tips
Before you head out to find your dream home among this Sunday’s open houses, don’t forget to download these questions! Along with your Home Tour Checklist, our 10 Questions tip sheet will guide you as you view and evaluate each open house.
All real estate is local. In order to make confident real estate decisions, we believe it is important for you to have timely and neighborhood-specific information. If you would like more information about attending open houses, our experts at Beverly-Hanks are here to help. Contact us today to speak with a Beverly-Hanks real estate agent about buying homes and land in Western North Carolina.
— Beverly-Hanks WNC (@beverlyhanks) April 3, 2017