Real Estate Open House season is upon us! With spring just around the corner, sellers are listing homes in anticipation of an active selling season and agents are holding open house events in greater numbers. Buyers have three primary reasons to attend a real estate open house. The first is to look at homes that, based on the seller’s description, could be purchase candidates. The second is to check out neighborhoods by driving or walking the streets and while there, looking at homes offered for sale, even if the homes holding an open house don’t meet their specific purchase criteria. The third is to look for remodeling and decorating ideas.
Let’s say we’re looking for a new home and have already prepared financially to make a purchase as soon as we locate a suitable property (mortgage pre-approval and down payment, closing costs and moving expenses in the bank). We’ve also prepared a simple checklist of features our new home must have, might have, or must not have. Let’s begin looking at homes, starting with those holding an open house.
Where To Go. The last item on our home search checklist should be a list of neighborhoods that meet our location requirements. Suitable locations might have good schools, an easy work commute and local availability of shopping, services, etc. – whatever our needs might be. If none of the homes for sale within the preferred neighborhood(s) on our checklist meet our selection criteria, we may need to expand our search zone or wait for more properties to come on the market. When deciding to visit an open house, however, we should stick to the search area we’ve currently identified and avoid the temptation to look at homes that are obviously in no-go areas (e.g. outside reasonable commute range). Tip: Send your agent a list of the open houses you will attend. They might have useful information about the property that isn’t in the public listing.
When To Go. Demand for a certain home can influence when to arrive at an open house. If the open house is expected to host a large number of visitors, we’ll arrive early and do more than just a quick walk-through. We’ll want to determine quickly if the home meets enough of our search criteria to warrant making an offer. We’ll do detailed inspections later if our offer is accepted, we just need to know at this point if the home has the features and location we’re looking for. If demand for the home is not expected to be strong, we might arrive a little before the open house ends. We’ll ask the listing agent if visitor traffic has been light, moderate or heavy – laying a foundation for our offer strategy.
What To Take Along. We’ll take four basic items to an open house – listing information, camera, measuring device, and something to take notes with. As a real estate pro, I also keep a pair of shoe covers in my car just in case the listing agent doesn’t provide them.
What To Do There. As mentioned above, demand for a home and whether or not it actually meets our selection criteria will determine what we do at the open house. If our interest in the property is strong, we’ll measure critical spaces, take pictures and make notes. We’ll go through our checklist, item by item. We’ll ask the listing agent detailed questions regarding how offers will be handled, the seller’s offer acceptance criteria and if other offers have been submitted (this discussion will take place where other potential buyers can’t hear). If we determine the home doesn’t meet enough of our needs, we’ll do a brisk walk-through and move on to the next real estate open house.
What To Do After. Review the information gathered at the open house. The property doesn’t meet your needs? Mark it off your list. Interested? Talk it over with your agent. You may want to submit an offer right away or schedule a private follow-up visit to confirm facts that will support a decision to pass on the property or submit a winning offer.
Should You Bring Your Agent? Some buyers are comfortable attending open houses to screen properties without their agent present, others prefer to have their agent tag along. There are three good reasons to have your agent with you at an open house. The first is having a critical second opinion regarding the home’s features, condition and location. The second is to speak with the listing agent on your behalf. Agents can develop a line of relevant follow-up questions based on information provided by the listing agent that could uncover problems with the property or identify tips for submitting a winning offer. The third reason is speed. If you like the home, your agent can prepare and submit an offer same-day.
Whether you attend a real estate open house because you are in the market to buy a home or are looking for home improvement ideas, make the experience enjoyable by having a clear objective and preparing for your visit. Happy house hunting!
About Real Living with Broker John™
Each week Real Living with Broker John™ provides innovative tips and information regarding all aspects of owning, buying and selling real estate. John Souerbry is Broker/Owner of Cordon Real Estate, a full service brokerage in California’s San Francisco Bay Area (CA BRE 01370983). Contact John with questions or comments regarding Real Living or real estate in Wine Country, East Bay and Silicon Valley.
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