Attending an open house is a common first step for many homebuyers. The home search is an exciting time. It is the beginning of a new chapter in life.
You have two choices to take in your approach when attending an open house.
You can attend in a social manner.
The social approach to the open house is when a buyer comes through and looks at the layout, the kitchen, and the bathrooms. They do the smile and wave with the agent on hand. The social open house attendee is looking for a house that suits their needs. But they are not getting into the important details.
You can attend an open house with a business approach.
The business approach to an open house is when a buyer looks at the layout, the kitchen, and the bathrooms and does the smile and wave with the agent on hand. However, they also are on a fact-finding mission.
I highly recommend the business approach. Purchasing a home is a huge commitment, so one better really know what they are getting into with their purchase. Get those questions answered.
When it comes to what questions to ask at an open house, I have broken them down into three categories. Those categories are:
- the physical home
- items for the offer
- extraneous questions
Open House Questions: Physical Issues
- Has Title V passed, and is the certificate available for review?
- Has a home inspection been done, and is the report available for review?
- Has the seller done any updates, and/or are all the permits closed out?
- What are the lot lines? Is there a plot plan?
- Ages of the systems. How old is the furnace, hot water heater, roof, windows, and central air?
- What size is the electrical service? When was it last updated?
- Have there been any issues with water? Is there a sump pump?
Open House Questions: The Offer
- Are you the listing agent, or simply helping with the open house?
- Has the open house been busy?
- Does the listing agent have any offers in hand?
- Why is the seller selling?
- What is important to the seller in an offer?
- Is there a preferred timeline?
Open House Questions: Extraneous Questions
- Is there a Home Owners Association(HOA)? Are the associated documents available for review?
- Are there any easements on the property? For example, any driveway easements, utility easements, waterlines?
- Are there any conservation easements, wetlands or otherwise?
- Is flood insurance necessary?
- Where is the septic tank?
- Are there buildable lots abutting or in the immediate area?
- Are there any other issues that a buyer should be bad aware of that have not been previously asked?
Knowledge is power. Answers to the above questions are extremely important. You and your real estate professional should know what to ask and find the answers. I routinely ask these questions on behalf of my clients. The best outcomes are when buyers are as informed as possible. This is especially true in today’s competitive market.