In the homebuying process, visiting open houses can be great for gathering valuable information you will need when getting ready to make the largest purchase of your life. Attending open houses allows you to check out different neighborhoods and overall communities to determine if the location, the resources, and the atmosphere will be a good fit for you and your needs. You will also have the opportunity observe other buyers and get a feel for the sense of urgency you will need to work with when you decide to put in an offer. You will also have the rare opportunity to speak directly with the listing agent. There are many other valuable aspects of visiting open houses, so it is important that your have a plan so that you can get the most out of your time.
Here are our tips:
1. Bring a notebook.
During your time in each home, you will be making a lot of observations and it is important to be able to record all of them. We suggest preparing a general list of information you would like to take note of for each property on the first page of the notebook so you have a reference point to keep you on task throughout all of the excitement of shopping for a new home. Notebooks also serve as a great place to store flyers and other information so you can stay organized.
2. Pay attention to measurements.
Looks can be deceiving, especially in vacant homes. Before you look at homes, make sure you are aware of the amount of space you want or need. Take note of the measurements of your existing living space as well as your furniture. When you go to an open house, take a measuring tape with you so that you can determine whether or not the size of the rooms will be able to accommodate you.
3. Take note of things that could be difficult to change.
You may be off-put by decor or paint colors that don’t align with your taste, or a yard that it a little overgrown. It is important to remember that though these features may be off-putting, they are relatively easy and inexpensive to fix. It is far more important to notice things that can’t be changed easily, or at all. For example, the size of the lot is never going to change, and neither is the location of the home. You may also want a more open floor plan, which can be costly and time consuming to change. Always look for structural damage as well, because that type of damage always comes with a high repair price tag.
4. Ask about price changes and days on market.
Properties that have been collecting days on market or have had multiple price changes have a lot more flexibility when it comes to making an offer. If this is the case for a property that you are considering, there is a pretty good chance that the owners will accept an offer lower than the current asking price. Make sure to work with your agent to come up with a good strategy for getting the most bang for your buck.
5. Drive around the area for 15-20 minutes.
Get a feel for the neighborhood and the surrounding area. Are the houses on the street you’re looking on well-kept, but the next street over is a mess? Pay attention to the level of activity in the area and whether or not you prefer a neighborhood that’s more quiet or more active. If you have kids or are planning on having kids, make sure you know what school district the home is in. Also make sure that you are within a distance that works for you to the amenities that you desire, like grocery stores, restaurants, and entertainment. It is also good to talk to neighbors to get a real feel for the community.