Sellers typically have open houses as a means to attract as many interested buyers as possible and hopefully impress one (or more) enough to submit an offer shortly thereafter. But an open house also provides buyers with the perfect opportunity to scope out a property in detail without having to make formal private showings.
If you’re serious about buying, you should use an open house to your advantage to see if a particular property has what it takes to warrant another showing and perhaps a bonafide offer. To make the most of an open house as a buyer, make sure to avoid making any one of the following blunders.
1. Letting Decorative Details Get in the Way
If you plan on visiting several homes on the market, the odds of you coming across hideous wallpaper, carpeting, and clutter at some point are pretty high. Of course, sellers should take the time to get their homes properly staged before listing their properties and allowing buyers to visit, but that doesn’t always happen.
But if you visit an open house and are greeted with decor that’s not exactly your taste, don’t let that cloud your perception of what the home has to offer. Instead, try to see past the decorative disasters and focus on components that really matter, like the layout, size, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the overall condition of the home.
2. Going to Too Many Open Houses in a Short Time Period
While it’s certainly helpful and even suggested that you use your weekends to visit a couple of open houses if you’re on the prowl for a new home, it’s not advised to go to too many properties all in one afternoon. Seeing too many properties in a short time frame can overwhelm you and make it tough for you to remember which features you saw in which home. All those homes will just end up mixing together in your mind.
Instead, try to stick to just a couple of open houses per day. Not only will this help you distinguish the properties you’ve visited, it also gives you more time to spend at each home to determine whether they’re worth booking a private showing.
3. Giving Out Too Much Information to the Listing Agent/Seller
The listing agent will be hosting the open house and will likely be keeping tabs on all buyers who visit. Considering the fact that the agent will be within earshot, you might want to keep certain information on the down-low in order to keep maintain some level of negotiating power.
For instance, letting the listing agent know that you’re totally in love with the home or are in a rush to buy a place because of a job transfer could put the ball in the seller’s court as far as negotiating is concerned. Keep those details between you and your agent until the time is right.
4. Not Paying Attention to the Neighborhood
Making sure that the house itself is suitable for your lifestyle and worthy of an offer is obviously important, but what about the surrounding area? Don’t make the mistake of paying too much attention to the actual structure to the point that you forget to scope out the actual community that the house is located in.
You’ll want to know what the neighbors are like, what the crime rate is, what type of amenities are close by, what the school district rating is, how close you are to transportation routes and public transit, and so forth. All these details will play a key role in how much you enjoy living in your new home, so don’t neglect to give them the attention they deserve.
5. Not Asking Questions
Make the most of your time spent at an open house and ask the listing agent all the questions you want answered. In fact, attend open houses armed with a list of questions you’ve written down before you go.
From the condition of the roof, to the age of the air conditioner unit, to the monthly cost of utilities, there’s no shortage of questions that you can ask at an open house. More answers will help give you a better idea of whether or not to put an offer on the place.
6. Not Bringing an Agent
If you’ve already secured an agent, why not bring this professional with you? Agents are trained and experienced at visiting open houses, so they’ll ensure that you use your time wisely. They may also be able to ask all the pertinent questions for you and will know exactly what to look for. Why go it alone when you can bring a support system with you?
The Bottom Line
Open houses are meant to make it easy for buyers to visit homes for sale and check them out in great detail before committing to a private showing. It makes sense to spend that time wisely to help make the house hunting process a success. To ensure you use open houses to your advantage, avoid making the above mistakes. At the very least, your agent will help keep you on the right path.