Attending an open house is a great opportunity to walk through a home and get to know what you do and don’t like without the added pressure of a scheduled appointment. These are great to attend if you are in any part of the house buying process, and we recommend taking advantage of the opportunity that it gives you, the buyer. As is the case with most aspects of home buying, you want to be prepared and know what to expect, so we have compiled your own open house guide with a few tips on what to look for and what the proper etiquette is for your next open house experience.
Refine Your Wishlist
One benefit of attending a handful of open houses is that it can help you establish what you really want in a home, or even help you define a few “non-negotiables.” By walking through a house, especially with a handful of other people in it, you might decide that a bigger kitchen with an open floor plan really is a priority for you, that the square footage you had in mind might actually be bigger than you had expected, or how important a big back yard is for your family. Actually seeing other homes in person can really help you decide what you do and do not want in a future home. Going to several open houses very early on in your search can help you build a foundation for what you truly want moving forward.
When you are at an open house, you have the opportunity to ask some of the questions that might not be included in the initial listing for the property. Some of the answers to these questions might end up being deal breakers for you, so it’s good to find out early on in the process if the house has real potential. Ask questions about whether or not there is an HOA and what that entails for the owners, what the utilities (gas, water, and eclectic) typically run for, or if there have been any recent renovations or repairs done on the property. You should also pay attention to the little details about the actual house and try to not be distracted by the cute, open house decor and smell of fresh baked cookies. Take a look at the roof when you are first walking up, and look closely at the walls and ceilings as you tour the different rooms for signs of structural issues or signs of leaks. If you are interested in a property, you should do a little detective work yourself and do things like drive through the neighborhood at night and see what the noise/activity level is like.
Keep in mind, while you are considering buying this house, it still is someone else’s home. If you are wanting to take pictures or video of something, ask the selling agent or home owner (whichever is present) first, and be sure to comply with any of their requests as you walk through the property. Avoid openly criticizing the property, because while you are establishing your personal preferences, again, this is still someone else’s home! Take notes as you walk through, and do your best to enjoy the opportunity to really get to know a house before taking the next steps toward buying your future home!