Questions to Ask at an Open House

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Attending an Open House

During the house hunting process, it’s typical to map out some time to visit potential listings in the neighborhood you’re interested in moving to. One of the best ways to gauge your interest and the available properties in the market you’re searching in is to attend open houses in the neighborhood. However, visiting an open house should always be more than just a casual walk-through. To make the most of your time, it’s important to go into every open house with a strategy. 

The Most Important Questions to Ask at an Open House

The best way to maximize your time at an open house is to prepare a list of questions ahead of time so you already know which questions to ask the listing agent. Here are some of the most important questions you should be asking at an open house.

Why are the owners selling?

This question may seem a bit personal, but it’s a valid area to cover. As a potential buyer, it’s important to understand if the reason for the sale is personal or due to an issue with the house or neighborhood. If the house is being sold because the owners are unhappy with its condition, there’s a high need for repairs or the overall feel of the neighborhood has changed, you want to know before you invest. But, remember to be polite and take note of the listing agents response. If you’re interested in learning more about their reason, you can have your own agent follow-up with the listing agent after the initial conversation. 

When was the house last updated?

Knowing how much of the home has been renovated, and when these upgrades took place can give you an idea of the overhead you’re investing in. As a buyer, you should know how old the roof is, when the last time a garage door was installed and if there have been upgrades to the electrical system to name a few. Fundamental aspects of a home can be expensive to update, so as the new owner you should be prepared to pay for them at some point and knowing ahead of time can help you better understand your overall cost for the home.

What’s the average cost of utilities?

Accounting for utilities is an important step in understanding the affordability of the home. Utilities can vary from home to home based on size, so if you’re upgrading you’ll want to make sure these costs are affordable in the long run, and if you’re downsizing you’ll have a better idea of how much you’re saving each month on home costs.

How long has the home been on the market?

While the information to this question is readily available on the web, asking the listing agent in person can provide you with more insight into the reason behind the time the home has been on the market. This is one of the most common questions buyers ask because it’s an important aspect to understand. Price is usually the main reason, but make sure you understand potential underlying factors as to why the home has not sold.

Have there been any other offers?

If you’re truly interested in a home, you’ll want to be aware of any potential competition. Knowing how many other buyers are interested can help you to make a well-informed offer on the home and increase your chances in solidifying the purchase. The market right now is highly competitive, so chances are most homes have an offer or two in the works. But if you’re genuinely interested, don’t let the presence of one or two offers stop you from making one of your own.

What kind of timeline is the seller aiming for?

Another question that can help you formulate a well-informed offer on the home. Sometimes sellers choose a buyer’s offer simply because it fits their own moving schedule. Knowing whether the buyer is looking to make a quick sell or is open to a delayed closing can help you know if you’re able to work around their timing and present an offer that they won’t want to pass up.  

What’s the neighborhood like?

Finding a neighborhood and neighbors that fit with your family’s lifestyle is just as important as finding the right home. If having a kid-friendly environment is important, you’ll want to know if that’s a possibility at the home you’re visiting. Or maybe you want to be close to shopping, restaurants and schools. Either way, the location and surrounding community should be a factor in your decision making process when looking for a home.

Open House Etiquette

When attending an open house, remember that there are some etiquette rules for you to follow as well. Don’t forget to sign in and greet the listing agent. Let them know you have questions, but allow them to interact with other visitors as well. During your Q&A session, remember to discuss the topics rather than dominate the conversation. Lastly, be prepared to answer a few questions about yourself, such as, “How long have you been looking?” A good listing agent will always try to gauge which open house guests are serious buyers and potential offers for their client.  Happy house hunting!

Photo Source – Available Property at 7 Waltham Road Ladera Ranch, CA

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