Open houses are a prime opportunity to not only walk through the potential home of your dreams and get a feel for the space, but also to speak with the listing agent to get more detailed information on the home. For a buyer, visiting an open house provides more than just a casual walk-through of the home. It may be your only opportunity to openly ask the selling agent questions about the home and details pertaining to the process. Take advantage of this meeting by coming prepared with these 10 important questions…
How many offers have been made?
Multiple offers usually mean a higher price for the home. If they’ve received offers, they’ll probably be eager to let you know in the hopes that you’ll make a bid, as well, and drive up the price.
Has the asking price changed?
This is good information as it might clue you in on whether or not the list price is somewhat flexible. Perhaps the price has dropped because the seller has to move on a tight deadline. Having inside information can enable you to make a more competitive bid.
Why do the sellers want to move?
You may not get an honest answer, or any answer, but ask this question anyway and look for hesitation from the agent. An agent is unlikely to tell you if the sellers are moving because the area is unsafe or that the neighbors keep them up at night, but you’ll probably get a good feel by their reaction.
How long has this property been on the market?
You can find out this information by asking your agent to check the local multiple listing service, but the seller’s agent will be able to shine a little light and put this information into context for you. Perhaps the home has been on the market for a while due to offers that fell through, or maybe the house only went on the market this week, but the sellers need to sell it quickly. All of this is useful knowledge when you’re deciding whether to make an offer.
Are there any issues with the home?
By law, the seller is required to disclose to potential buyers any known structural problems or code violations. Be sure to request a written seller’s disclosure. However, it’s possible that a talkative listing agent might reveal more in person. Pay special attention to any problem areas the agent might hint at and take pictures of the areas. If you’re serious about the home, you will want to factor them into the price of any needed renovations.
Any updates made to the home?
It’s obvious if the home has been freshly painted or has new appliances. However, even more significant is getting information like the age of the roof or if the furnace will need to be replaced in the near future. Both are big expenses and could impact your bid.
Cost of monthly utilities?
Always ask to see the most recent utility bills so you can come armed with all the necessary information
before making an offer. If you’re moving from an apartment, or from a much smaller house, you might be surprised at the difference on the utility bill, and in turn, on your budget.
What’s the seller’s timeline?
The more you know about what the sellers want, the more easily you can put together a tempting offer while still getting a good deal. A seller might choose a buyer’s offer simply because of timing. Perhaps they need to sell quickly, or possibly to delay the timing of the sale to match their own pre-determined timeline.
Where can I get a bite to eat?
Getting to know the general neighborhood and what it has to offer – a local eatery or coffee shop- can tell you a lot about whether or not it’s a good fit for you and your family. If the locals frequent certain establishments and show pride in the area, chances are good that it’s a nice area, and you’ll love it too.
What are the neighbors like?
This is the perfect opportunity to get some insight on who’s on the other side of the fence or just across the street from your prospective new home. The seller’s agent will be able to give you valuable information on whether or not the neighborhood is kid-friendly, or if most of your neighbors are retired. Some buyers are looking for a tight-knit community while others are fine doing their own thing. Is it a busy bar scene on weekends, or just a busy street in general? All of this is good to know if you choose to buy.
An open house is a great venue to ask questions and gather information. However, be cautious to not give away more than you want known about your own situation and risk losing the upper hand. Error on the side of discretion regarding your own finances and how interested you really are in the home. This can only benefit you when it’s time to make an offer.
Tom Reese has 20+ years experience in helping his clients sell their homes for a price that sells and makes them a profit. Tom has helped his clients buy and sell property in every neighborhood in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati.
About Tom Reese
Helping my clients attain their dreams has been the foundation of my success. With my strong attention to customer service, I have earned my clients continued support and referrals. Put my enthusiasm and dedication to work for you!
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