Open houses are a great way of exploring homes and developing ideas of what you like in a home. It’s always good to have some idea of the kind of features that appeal to you, but as you view more homes you may find your list of priorities changes.
On average, buyers view approximately 15 homes before deciding on “the one”. Make sure you have a game plan for your day of open house browsing. Search out available properties that interest you and map out a good route so that you make use of your time efficiently. This way, if you find a property you like, you can spend more time inspecting it and learning more about it. It may be a long afternoon so eat well beforehand and dress comfortably.
Once you enter the home be sure to pick up a feature sheet, it will have a good deal of information regarding the property. Even if you don’t like the home, it’s helpful to hold on to because you can use it for comparison against the homes you do like. Learning what you can get for your money is an important process. If you are viewing many homes in one day, you will need the feature sheets to refer back to so you don’t get confused about the features were present in a specific property. Since the feature sheet won’t have all the information on it, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and write the answers on the sheet. You might ask things such as: “How long has the property been on the market?” or “Are there any special features or upgrades”. Anything that is important in your decision making process you want to know about. You will have a clearer picture on its value if you ask the right questions.
When walking around the property try to be as objective as possible. Pay attention to the cleanliness of the home. If the sellers have failed to keep common areas clean and well kept, especially for an open house, it may point to neglect in other areas of the home which could cost you a lot more.
Don’t get carried away with the beauty of the decor or furniture. Instead, try to decide whether or not the rooms will work for you by picturing your furniture in the space. Also, as you walk through each room don’t forget to look up. Signs of past or current water damage might show in repair work already completed or visible stains on the ceiling. The floors are equally important as well. As you walk around the home, don’t just pay attention to the quality of flooring, you should also be noting any soft, springy, or creaky areas. These may be signs of repair work needed.
Be sure to check some of the major components of the home. You will likely get a home inspection as it is an important part of the process (click here to read article on the importance of a home inspection), but investigating them as you walk through may swing your vote one way or another in regards to even making an offer. Important aspects of the home include, but not limited to, are: roof, siding, foundation, windows and broken seals, garage doors, interior/exterior doors (tightly sealed?), furnace, air conditioner, sump pump, and pool equipment, if such exists. Any component that incurs a large cost and may need work in the near future is important to inspect. All these aspects factor into the value of the property.
If other buyers are present during the open house, listen out for anything they say. It’s possible they know something about the property or area that you have overlooked.
If you haven’t chosen a Realtor to work with, this is a great time to evaluate how they work in their element. Think about how you would want them to conduct themselves in your home. Do you want them breathing down your neck the whole time by following you around? or would you rather they provide you helpful information upon entering the property, giving you the freedom to view the property without hassle, and making themselves available for any questions? You have to decide which you prefer and the open house is a great time to evaluate their performance. Don’t give the Realtor too much personal information, unless you have little interest in the property you are viewing and feel you may want to work with them. It’s been said before but its true when they say “Anything you say can and will be used against you in negotiation”!
It may seems like a lot to think about, and it is, but it can still be fun. Setting up a good game plan ahead of time will make the process more relaxing and enjoyable. The more you learn about each property you view can save you a lot of money and headaches in the long run.
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