How to Get the Most Out of Open House Season
Attending open houses is a great way to prepare for home buying. One of the big mistakes people make is waiting until they are ready to buy before getting to know the homes in their preferred neighborhoods. By attending open houses early in your house hunting journey, you will be able to develop a good feel for comparable houses in your price range between neighborhoods. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of the open houses you attend.
#1– Be Confident
Many people go into an open house feeling self-conscious. If you feel like you don’t belong because you aren’t ready to sign a check on the spot, don’t worry. Real estate agents know that they are going to be showing the house to 15-100 individuals or couples, and there is still a chance that they won’t get an offer out of it. Most of the people who will be attending the open house are likely seriously looking, but no more ready to buy than you are, so let go of any insecurities or worries and enjoy the experience. Remember, this is your chance to gather information on homes that are comparable to what you’re looking to buy.
#2– Be Nosy (within reason)
One of the perks of an open house is that you typically get to roam on your own for at least part of the tour. Because there are likely more visitors than realtors, this is your chance to look under the sink, size up how many clothes could actually fit in that closet, and determine the extent to which you might need to child proof. This free reign also means you can take your time, go back into rooms multiple times, and get a feel for what it’s like to actually spend time in the home and move around the space.
#3– Ask Questions
Approach open houses as your chance to gather data for your future home purchase. Even if you don’t think a particular home is going to be the right fit, go see it anyway. Viewing homes that are outside your normal home choice has many perks. First of all, you will find that new questions pop up when you view different styles of homes and this will give you a good chance to get more information about the neighborhood, the home styles, and ask general questions that you tend to forget when you’re walking through a home you love. And there is always the chance that something will surprise you and you’ll walk away with a change of heart regarding a certain style or feature.
#4– Take Pictures
Ask first, but chances are good that you’ll be allowed to take photos while touring the home. Make it a habit to take the same pictures in the homes you visit. Pictures of the closets, kitchen cabinets, bathroom storage, appliances, and basement/garage space are things that you’ll be glad to have later. While pictures of the main rooms are likely available online, you’ll probably have to rely on your own photos for remembering if the storage is comparable, better, or worse to your current space. And while these things aren’t always the biggest selling points, they are the things that most often become annoyances after moving in.
#5– Be Efficient
If you have a couple different neighborhoods in mind for your home search, try to attend open houses that are close to each other on the same day. Touring two or three homes is a great way to spend a Saturday spring morning, and will be a good opportunity for immediate comparisons of size, atmosphere, and comfort. If you only know of one open house, try to arrive early and walk or drive through the area to spot other ones you may have missed and can attend later.
#6– Keep Track
While having good visual memories of the different properties is great, what’s really helpful is tracking the details of each visit. Keep a spreadsheet that includes the basics, such as address, neighborhood, number of rooms, price, any homeowner’s fees, utility averages, etc. And if you’re really feeling ambitious you can even include how long it stays on the market before selling, as well as the selling price. Trust us, you’ll feel much more confident putting in an offer on your dream home if you have a dozen other houses in that price range to compare it to.
If you’re going to take full advantage of the spring open house season, don’t forget to dress comfortably, have fun, and enjoy a walk through the neighborhood to get the full experience. Happy hunting!
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