5 Questions to Ask When You Go to an Open House

Open house season is upon us. For those new to the home buying/selling market, spring is when many houses go on the market and, logically, when many realtors hold open houses. The wealth of options, as well as the beautiful weather, makes now the perfect time to brush up on your open house how-to’s.

We’ve already talked about the many great reasons for attending open houses. Now that you’ve (hopefully) decided to take advantage of open house season, here are a few must-ask questions to get the most out of your visit.

#1– What is the neighborhood like?

Is living in a kid friendly or pet friendly neighborhood important to you? Then you should definitely ask some questions about your potential new neighborhood. You’ll likely get a generic response if you simply ask “is it a good neighborhood,” but if you ask specific questions you’ll get a much better picture of the atmosphere.  Some good questions to ask include:

  • Is there a dog park/playground nearby?
  • What’s the local nightlife like? (i.e. Is it loud and rowdy at night or more of a glass of wine after work kind of scene?)
  • What’s the noise curfew?
  • Are the district schools good quality?
  • Also take note of whether people leave things on their porch, and bikes on the lawn, or is everything locked up for safe keeping?

#2– What recent maintenance has been done?

Have the current owners recently replaced the roof? Is the wiring original or has it been updated? Has there been any floor or fire damage that’s been fixed? The answers to these questions will help you determine how much money you can expect to put into the home over the coming years, what kind insurance costs to budget, as well as give you a feel for how likely the owners are to negotiate the price.

#3– Are there any neighborhood or homeowners association fees?

Understanding the additional costs that will come with owning a home in a particular neighborhood is vital to being able to make an informed and financially sound choice. If you are moving in from a different city, county, or state, you will also want to ask about property taxes and the state of the utility systems.

#4– What are the utility bill estimates?

There’s nothing more frustrating than buying a home well within your budget, only to find out when winter rolls around that you can expect a $1000 heating bill four months out of the year. If the realtor doesn’t have this information on hand, they should be willing to follow up with you after checking with the homeowners. Don’t feel awkward asking — these are important questions to ask if you are seriously considering how a home fits in your budget.

#5– How long has the house been on the market?

Are homes in this neighborhood hard to sell? Or do they tend to sell within a few weeks of going on the market? If there is a chance that this isn’t your forever home, you want to be confident that you can resell the home in a reasonable amount of time and get your money back that you put into it.

Have the homeowners already purchased a new home? Are they moving out of state? These answers will help you gauge just how motivated the owners are to sell and how flexible their likely to be on the price.

Hopefully these tips will help you feel like a pro walking into your first open house, and will keep you focused and ready to shop!


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