In this season it’s rare to have a weekend where there aren’t any open houses to go and view. Within or out of your price range, open houses can be fun. They can provide inspiration for things to do in your home, give you an idea of how your home compares to others in the neighborhood or be a great way to see what’s available within a specific neighborhood that you like. If you’re going to an open house to a home that you’re truly interested in, it provides a great opportunity to get insight from the listing agent as to certain aspects regarding the home.
Here are some good questions to ask that you may not get answered by viewing the listing or property disclosures but give you great insight into the home:
1) Why are the sellers moving? The odds are it’s unlikely that the agent will tell you that the sellers are moving because the school system is bad or the neighbors always have the cops at their house, but try to read in-between the lines of what the agent is saying and see if you can get a vibe as to what’s going on.
2) When were the last updates done to the home and what were they? The listing will tell you that there are newer windows, roof, appliances, etc., but exactly how new? What year was the last update done and what was it?
3) How much do utilities cost? Here in CT, especially with this past winter, everyone is concerned about how much it costs to heat a home. More and more buyers are requesting homes heated by gas only. However, maybe a home has oil and a pellet stove…how much did the sellers pay for heat this past winter? It’s a good question that helps you not completely eliminate a home just because of its heat source.
4) Where and when are the sellers moving? This will give you an idea of how critical the sellers timeline is. Do they have a contract on another home and need to sell this home in order to not lose their new home? They might be willing to accept a lower offer for a fast turn-around. Do they still need to find a new home? Are they moving out of state for a job? All of these factors will help you and your agent in determining how to draft an offer.
5) Where can I get a bite to eat? Odd question, but it will help you feel out the neighborhood. The agent is likely to recommend a local favorite. You’ll be able to determine if the locals are young, older, have kids or are single. If it’s important to you to be in a neighborhood surrounded by people in similar situations then getting a sense of your potential future neighborhood could make or break your decision to make an offer.
An open house is not just a time for you to feel out sellers, neighborhoods and agents, but for them to also get a sense of you. You will be asked questions by the agent so you may want to have an idea of what your answers will be. Here’s a great article about what type of questions you should expect to be asked.
Have you had an outstanding experience at an open house?
How about a terrible one?
Share them with us!