Open houses are kind of fun, aren't they? There's something interesting about walking through a home and trying to picture yourself living there. However, when you're serious about getting into the real estate market, it's time to take this experience to the next level.
Here are our tips for buyers on getting the most out of open houses. Keep these in mind the next time you're in the mood to take a tour and you'll be an open house pro before you know it.
Tackle One At A Time
Buyers and real estate agents alike can tell you that Sundays are synonymous with open houses. While creating a tour out of all the listings in your area may sound like a great way to spend the afternoon, that isn't the best option for serious house hunters. If you think there's a possibility you may want to submit an offer, it's best to limit yourself to one or two open houses at a time.
Realistically, if you view any more than that in one go, all the properties will start to blend together. You won't be able to remember which home has the updated kitchen and which one has the big backyard. You may even find yourself writing viable properties off entirely because you're unable to separate them from the crowd.
Your time is valuable, so use it wisely. By capping the number of open houses you see in one day, you'll be able to get a better handle on your impression of each property and to make decisions, accordingly.
Don't Get Distracted By Aesthetics
We know it's hard. Personal style is often the first thing to catch your attention when touring someone else's home, especially when it's very different from your own. Unfortunately, though, nit-picking a home's aesthetic details is a bad habit to start and an even harder one to break. Buyers can get so easily caught up in listing all the things that they don't like about the property that they never really give it a fair shot.
Remember, once you purchase a property, the interior design can be changed over time. When looking at listings, it's crucial to focus on other factors that can't be as easily altered. These are the things that will ultimately determine whether or not a home will be the right fit for you.
Try your best to concentrate on features like the home's location, layout, size, and amount of storage space. The level of financial commitment you'll need to make, if you decide to buy the home, is also important. When you're looking over literature from the open house, take into account factors like the sale price, taxes, and if the home will need any unusual maintenance.
Ask the Agent Questions
Open houses offer one clear benefit that differs from a traditional showing — the listing agent. He or she is on hand to immediately answer any questions that you may have about the property. Use that knowledge to your advantage and ask questions that will help you determine if the property is right for you.
(Keep in mind, though, the listing agent isn't there to act on your behalf. If you want to submit an offer and have contractual questions, those should be handled by your own buyer's agent.)
That said, details about the house are fair game. Ask the listing agent things like which school district the property is in, if there are any association fees, or what kind of heating system is used. If you're very interested in a property, you may want to make a list of questions ahead of time so that you can get the most out of your visit.