Buying a house August 2, 2014

Make the Most of the Open House Experience

Open houses are a staple in the real estate business.  It allows people to preview a home without a real estate broker to let them inside.  For real estate professionals, it creates an opportunity to sell their listing, meet neighbors for future listings, or meet Buyers who don’t have an agent yet. 
Some people love to go to open houses as a weekend activity even when they aren’t actively shopping for a home.  Isn’t it fascinating to see how other people, especially neighbors, decorate their homes?  Whenever I do an open house, I have my husband and kids bring me a coffee.  That’s just a ruse to get him to see the house so we can get ideas for our own home: “See, honey, we can just blow out the wall between the kitchen and the dining room, add four feet off the back of the house, change the entire layout of the kitchen, and it would look just like this amazing house.  Easy, right?”
I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to get bombarded by sales people at the retail store, but I also expect to be noticed so being greeted when I come in is appreciated.  That is what I do when I host an open house.  I welcome the people into the home and then allow them to browse at their leisure.  I always offer to answer any questions they may have as they are going through the house, and asking questions is a good idea.
The broker knows a lot of details that aren’t listed on the flyer like when the roof was done, if the water heater or furnace has been replaced recently.  Also, asking questions about the neighborhood is smart.  Maybe the broker happens to know the next door neighbor or knows the best route for a run.  Are there a lot of children on the street? Do they have neighborhood activities?
When going through the house, go ahead and open all of the doors.  See inside that tiny door under the stairs or look at how much space is in the pantry.  You may find some cool features you didn’t know about unless you had been curious.  My kids are experts at finding the “secret doors” of a house and whenever there is one, that’s the house they want.  Sorry kids, we’re staying put.
Do you like facts and figures?  Some brokers will have statistics about the neighborhood real estate market at the open house: how fast homes are selling, what price range sells the best, what month was the best in sales, etc.
A good broker will make the open house worth your while with a plethora of information.  And some even have treats!  So, relax, be curious, ask questions… and eat.