How to make the most of your open house visits

Open houses are about more than just checking out a neighborhood or finding out what works for your family; real estate professionals estimate that at least 20% of home sales result from an open house. Making the most out of your open house visits can help you find your dream home faster. The following tips can help you maximize each open house when you are ready to buy.

  1. Do your homework

Take a few minutes to research the home you’re going to visit online. This can help you identify any “deal breakers” before the open house; location, school district, square footage, or number of bedrooms are all factors that could impact your desire to visit the open house. If the house has something you definitely don’t want, save your time by visiting another open house instead.

  1. Bring the right tools

If you’re serious about buying, bringing the right tools can help you maximize an open house visit. A camera, notebook, and tape measure are all important tools, especially if you plan on visiting more than one open house in an afternoon. Notes and pictures can help you when following up with the agent or when discussing a home’s features; a tape measure can come in handy when gauging space for entertainment centers, beds, or other furniture in a space.

  1. Chit chat with others

Open houses often bring in neighbors – if not the sellers themselves. Chit chat with other visitors to see if they live in the area; neighbors can give you information about traffic, noise, commuting, local events or traditions, or even the best service providers in the area.

  1. Stop and stay awhile

If you are visiting multiple open houses, it can be tempting to get in and out as fast as possible. Instead, give yourself at least 20-30 minutes – if not more – in a property. This can help you spot things, like a recurring noise or a sharp odor, that you might otherwise miss. Serious about buying? Make sure to return to the property, even if you are just driving by, at different times during the week. A street that is quiet Sunday afternoons, for example, might be blocked with traffic weekday mornings.

  1. Don’t be afraid to look around

Some potential buyers shy from opening drawers, cabinets, or closets when touring a home; while an open house is not an excuse to be nosy, it is important to look at all parts of a home. Don’t be afraid to look inside pantries, under the sink, or in the basement or garage. Taking a walk around the block can help you gauge the upkeep of surrounding homes. If you are buying a condo, townhome, or apartment, make sure to ask to see any shared spaces such as clubhouses, pools, or additional storage facilities.

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