House Hunting: Open Houses
Finding a new home can be a daunting task. Each member of the family has a laundry list of items they’d like and making all of those requests come together in one home can be difficult. Alas, it’s always possible that perfect house out there!
Thankfully, we have the internet now, which provides amazing ways to see houses available for sale. You can view photos of each room in the home, take virtual tours and many realtors create videos to give you the feeling of walking through the home itself.
Although, that virtual tour isn’t always enough. That’s where open houses come in. They help you better understand the space. The question is, how do you make the most of going to an open house? Below, we’ve put together some tips and tricks on how to do that.
Finding Open Houses
First, let’s talk about research. Realtor.com has a great search function that can be used to find upcoming open houses in your desired area. Search by zip code, city or county then select ‘Open House’ within preferences and you instantly have a list of houses that you could visit. The other great thing about this search engine is that it compiles properties from a wide variety of realtors, so there is no need to go from site-to-site to collect all of the information. It’s all in one, easy-to-use spot.
Map Your Path
Once you have found several properties that interest you and you’d like to visit in person, create a gameplan. Open houses tend to be on Sundays starting around noon and going until mid-afternoon. Often times, each house is only open for two hours so time management and planning is essential.
Make note of the timing for each house you are interested in, then create a map starting with the house that opens earliest out of your group. Keep going down the line based on times available and establish how much time you’d like to spend at each location. If you would like to spend at least a half hour in each, then aim to visit three houses in an afternoon. Don’t forget to take drive time between locations into account. Keep in mind, if you miss an open house you can always reach out to the realtor and schedule a private showing.
It’s also a good idea to make note of any questions you have after looking at the homes’ online. If you notice a listing doesn’t have photos of the garage, make a note.
Open House Day
Plan in hand, you’re ready to go and find your potential new home! If you have created set times to arrive and leave homes, keep an eye on the time so that you don’t miss out on the other houses you’d like to see.
Make the most of your time at each location. Don’t be shy to asking questions! The realtor is there to help and they are full of information, often times knowing far more than what is published on line. Trulia has a great list of questions that’s worth checking out.
When visiting each home as a potential buyer you are not obligated to leave any sort of contact information for later. However, if they property catches your eye, be sure to take a card with the realtor’s information. This contact information will come in handy should you have any other further questions and/or you have interest in making an offer.
Don’t Forget Etiquette
It’s very easy to get caught up looking at a beautiful home, but make sure that if you want to take any photos you ask the realtor before doing so. Most times they will say yes, but it is always polite to offer them the option to say no in case the seller has requested no photos.
Also, keep in mind that you are not the only one viewing the home. Any negative comments or notes about the home should be kept to yourself. Sometimes, realtors will wander the house in case visitors have any questions and the last thing they want is to hear negative remarks about their listing. Instead, carry a small notepad with you and make note of any parts of the house that you like or dislike. This will come in handy later once you’ve visited all of the homes and want to discuss.
If there are other groups of buyers in one room, allow them enough time to explore before entering with your group. This is common courtesy that should not be forgotten.
You’re back after your afternoon of viewing potential homes! You’ve got all of your notes and maybe some photos, but what do you do with that information?
First, sort out everything by property and begin reviewing your notes. While you go through all of the information, keep your (family’s) wish list close by for reference. Consider factors like price, upkeep, and location. It will be very hard to find a home with every single feature on your list. Be flexible and prioritize.
If you find yourself with questions about certain properties, reach out to the listing agent directly. If there is a property that you are especially drawn to, set up a follow up private showing. It may just be the home for you.
If you follow the guidelines above, we’re sure you’ll eventually find the home you’re looking for in an stress-free, efficient manner.