The Ins and Outs of Open Houses

Even with today’s non-stop social media, virtual visits and all things technology, Real Estate Open Houses are still a major part of finding that perfect house or condo.

According to a recent Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report, 71% of all homebuyers go to at least one open house and 77% of first-time buyers visit one or more open houses. Because your time is valuable—and you don’t want to miss out on that perfect home—it’s smart to do a little legwork ahead of time.

Start Here

It certainly seems logical that going to open houses is the first thing you should do when you’re considering buying a home. After all, it’s a fantastic way to see what size property you want, what features are important to you and what things are deal-breakers for your family.
However, if you go to open houses before you know how much you can spend, there’s a risk that you’ll fall in love with something you can’t afford or you might make a snap decision about how to finance your dream home. Getting pre-approved means that you’ll be able to focus on homes that are realistically within your budget, making it possible for you to enjoy going to open houses.

Your Realtor® Relationships

A lot of people wonder if they need to have a Realtor® before attending an open house. Although it’s perfectly fine to have that relationship in place, if you don’t have a real estate agent yet, this is an opportunity to see if you click with the one who’s hosting the open house.
Even though the host represents the seller at the event, successful real estate agents are equally adept at working with both sellers and buyers. In addition to your own interactions with the agent, see how he or she interacts with others who are visiting the home. They could be ultimately become your own agent.
You made it to the Open House, now what? 
  1. Sign in. Most real estate agents ask visitors to jot down their name and contact information so they can reach out to you later. If you don’t want to be contacted, then at least include your name—otherwise, they may assume you’re just a nosy neighbor and perhaps even someone “casing the house” for a future crime. (Sad, but true.)
  2. Arrive early. Don’t show up before the open house is scheduled to start, but it’s smart to get there near the beginning instead of at the end when the agent is starting to close things down.
  3. Mention your pre-approval letter. Depending on how the conversation goes, you may want to slip in the fact that you’ve been pre-approved. That will position you as a serious potential buyer.
  4. Don’t snoop. Sellers and agents know that you’re going to want to see how large the walk-closet is, the condition of kitchen cabinets or the layout of the basement. But don’t look inside furniture drawers or linger in their medicine cabinet. Show the homeowner the same consideration you’d want.
  5. Look for damage. Although you’ll have a professional inspection before closing on the loan, take note of anything that would indicate water damage or structural problems.
  6. Ask before taking photos. In some situations, photos can be a helpful resource as you’re deciding which house to buy. However, most homes have a good supply of photos available online. If there’s a picture you absolutely think you need, ask the agent before you begin snapping.
  7. Avoid using the bathroom. If it’s an emergency, ask the agent which restroom they want you to use.

- By Stephanie Clark , Jul 18, 2018