If you’re thinking about buying a home in the next year or so, visiting an open house can be a great way to find out what you do and don’t like, how much house you can afford and really need, and what neighborhood or general area you’d like to live in. If you’re closer to making an actual purchase, open houses should be treated as a fact-finding mission. Either way, here are our best tips for making the most of an open house!
Do Your Research
Rule out any potential deal-breakers and don’t waste your time visiting those homes. If you know that you really need a home with a garage or you want to live in a walkable neighborhood, don’t fall in love with a home at the open house that you won’t be happy actually living in. There are plenty of websites that have information about homes for sale, but if you want to make sure that the listing you love has the most updated information, check out our home search or get Homesnap on your phone.
Scope Out The Competition
Obviously if you’re approved for $250k, don’t waste your time going to a $550k open house. But a little bit of research and number-crunching can help you look at potential homes more critically. Knowing what houses priced $50k higher or lower than your target price range look like will help you appreciate homes that are priced appropriately.
Take Notes and Pictures
Bring a way to take notes—whether that’s your phone or an actual notebook—so you can remember specifics about the house that aren’t in the listing or that would help you make a decision later. Having your own notes and thoughts about the home will be a huge help, especially when you are planning on hitting multiple open houses in a weekend.
Use Your Senses
Try to go beyond just looking at the layout of the house or the color of the walls. Listen for traffic noise, check out the condition of nearby homes, notice any smells or mold in basements or kitchens, open closet doors and look inside cabinets—these little things will have a big impact on your life in the house.
Ask The Right Questions
Ask the showing agent how many days the home has been on the market. If it’s a high number, the sellers may be more willing to negotiate. Find out whether there is an HOA, if the home has any issues that the sellers are aware of and what improvements have been made to the home. These questions will give you a better idea of the monthly costs of living there as well as any potential repairs you may need to make. Very perceptive buyers will be able to tell from the agent’s answers whether or not the sellers are “motivated” (read: desperate).
Open Houses can be exhausting, especially if you are hitting multiple homes in one day. Don’t get discouraged, and try to evaluate each home as impartially as possible. You’ll see plenty of homes you don’t like before you find out what you really need in a home. It’s fine to use these open houses as opportunities to learn about that area’s market and gather data that will inform your future home purchase.