Touring an open house is exciting.
You walk in eagerly, swoon over the house’s features, and envision yourself living there happily.
But what happens when your excitement about touring an open house makes you blind to all of the problems with the house?
You might end up buying a home that you don’t really like.
That’s why it’s important to plan for an open house tour properly – it’ll stop you from making an impulse home-buying decision that you regret down the road.
So, keep reading. By the end of this blog post, you’ll be well-equipped for your next open house tour as a home buyer!
Home Buyers: How to Get the Most Out of Touring an Open House
Consider the neighborhood.
Even the most beautiful house can be miserable to live in if the neighborhood is unsafe or located in an undesirable area. That’s why it’s important for you to take a good look at the neighborhood before you consider buying a house. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- What are the traffic speeds like here?
- What condition are the surrounding homes in?
- Are the attractions I need the most nearby?
- Who would my neighbors be if I moved here?
- What is the crime rate in this area?
To learn about crime rates in a neighborhood, see demographics, learn about local schools, and more, type the home address into the Trulia tool. The information you learn there can make all the difference in your home-buying decision!
Use the open house sign-in sheet.
When you walk in the door, you’ll likely see a clipboard with a list of names on it. This is an open house sign-in sheet, and it is used by listing agents to show sellers that prospective buyers attended the open house.
So, go ahead and write your information down on the sheet – it’s the polite thing to do!
If you’re hesitant to sign in because you’re worried about being bombarded with sales calls and emails, just write your name on the open house sign-in sheet and leave the other fields blank!
Bring an open house checklist.
If you don’t bring an open house checklist, you may find yourself forgetting about certain amenities and features of the home later on. So, create a custom checklist based on what you’re looking for in a home. That could include:
- Number of bedrooms/bathrooms
- Condition of exterior/interior walls
- Square footage
- Listing price
- Flooring type
- Signs of pests
- Commute time
- Nearby amenities
If you’re not sure what to include in your checklist, you can download a pre-made open house checklist, like this one by HGTV.
Ask lots of questions.
It’s perfectly fine to ask the listing agent probing questions as long as you do so tactfully and politely. Here are a few things you may want to ask:
- Are there any problems with this house? When you ask this, you’ll be able to learn about any structural problems with the house, which could save you from an unpleasant surprise later on.
- Why are the sellers moving out? The agent may not answer this directly, but you can still analyze his reaction to the question to try and tell if the sellers are moving out because of noisy neighbors, problems with the house, or another issue that is likely to make you want to move out too.
- How much are utilities here? You may even want to ask to see a copy of recent utility bills so you can budget appropriately before deciding to buy the house.
- What are the neighbors like? If you’re a family, you may want to live in a calm neighborhood near other families. On the other hand, if you’re a college student, you may not mind a rowdy neighborhood full of other college kids. Ask the agent about the neighbors to see how well you’ll fit into the neighborhood.
- How long has this house been on the market? If it has been on the market for quite a while, ask the agent why. This information can help you make an informed decision about when you should make an offer.
Remember, the agent may not be able to answer all of your questions, but if that’s the case, they might be able to direct you to someone who can.
Ask for permission before you take photos and video footage.
This is important because the house is likely still full of the seller’s personal belongings. Think about it – would you want someone taking tons of photos in your home? Probably not!
If you aren’t allowed to take pictures and are worried that you’ll forget certain features of the home, just bring a checklist like mentioned earlier in this blog post. It’s a great way to keep track of the amenities without needing to take pictures.
Check out the storage space.
While you should never rummage through the homeowner’s personal belongings, you should try to get an idea of how much storage space the home offers. Check out the drawers and cabinets, and look at the closets to make sure there is adequate space for all of your belongings.
Observe the other prospective buyers.
If you see lots of people walking out of the house soon after entering, that could be a red flag. On the other hand, if several prospective buyers seem to be interested in the house, it could mean that the property is well-priced and in good condition.
Of course, you shouldn’t make assumptions. But you can use your observations to determine which questions you should ask the agent and what kind of offer you should make.
Talk about the house with your spouse/roommate right after the tour.
With the home’s amenities fresh on your minds, you’ll be able to discuss your likes and dislikes without forgetting anything.
Write down your thoughts on the back of your open house checklist. Then, if you attend other open houses, you’ll be able to compare the checklists and notes. Doing so will help you make a good decision about which home will make everyone the happiest.
If the home-buying process has you feeling overwhelmed, consider partnering with a real estate agent who knows the local area where you plan to live. If that happens to be Austin, Killeen, or Ft. Hood, I’d love to help! Click here to contact me, and let’s talk about what you’re looking for in a new home.