Shopping for a new home, or a first home, can be both exciting and overwhelming. It is very important to know exactly what you want in a home and a neighborhood. To accomplish this, open houses are the prime opportunity to not only get a feel for the house and the neighborhood, but to ask all the questions that could make or break the decision of placing an offer. Here are some questions you will want to ask at the next open house you attend:
1) Are there any active offers on the home? If so, how many?
Just because there are offers made, shouldn't make you feel threatened. Buying a home is a very long process, and the initial offer is one of the first steps. However, asking this question and seeing how many offers have been made gives you a better perspective of the market and the competition. It also will give you a margin of how much you may be willing to pay.
2) How long has the property been on the market?
Asking the open house agent about how long the property has been for sale gives you a little more information on previous offers or the individuals who are selling the home. Whether there was an offer but the financing fell though or the property was just put on the market, you will get a little insight on pricing fluctuations and if there is any room negotiation.
3) How stable has the price been?
As a follow up to question two, this could be a staple in the offer making decision. Consideration of the pricing from the original price to what it is currently listed for is very important. Whether the price has remained constant or fluctuated, gives you a little more of an insight on the property and the competition of the market. This Information might even clue you in that the list price is somewhat flexible before you make an offer.
4) How does the price compare with other homes on the market in the neighborhood?
Asking the agent at the open house prices of other homes recently sold in the neighborhood is very useful. If the price is significantly higher than other houses nearby, the seller may have unrealistic expectations. However, if the price is much lower, that also calls for additional information that needs to be obtained.
5) What appliances and features come with the house?
Some homes come with standard amenities such as an oven, microwave, fridge, or washer and dryer. However, some do not. Make sure to ask the agent at the open house what is included with the home, so it does not come as a shock when the contract is signed.
6) What renovations have been made to the property and when?
This is a great question to ask because it gives a little more insight on the home. You want to know if there have been any renovations or, worst-case scenario, major issues that required renovations. Many times, renovations aren't a bad thing at all, but when purchasing you want to know everything (including the history) of the property. If the home hasn't had any recent renovations, and needs them, you may want to take that into account when deciding an offer price. Keeping this in mind, it is suggested that you ask for a disclosure statement from the seller. A disclosure statement will tell you about any issue the seller knows about, including any issues or damages revealed by a prior property inspection. It will also show how old the property is, how long the seller occupied the home, and other useful information.
7) What are the local amenities?
This is a great time to ask about the neighborhood and get a feel for it. Asking about the amenities will be helpful in helping you understand the community better. The open house agent will most likely tell you what is close by or give you their favorite restaurants or other local favorites. In the same regard, you may want to use this opportunity to ask the agent about the schools. They should be able to tell you every school that home is zoned to attend!
Open houses are the opportunity you need to not only get a feel for the property, but also to speak directly to the listing agent and get detailed information on the property and the neighborhood. The open house you attend may be the only time to openly ask the selling agent these kind of questions during the entire home-sale process. The optimum way to take advantage of the open house is to be prepared with both questions and research on the property and neighborhood. Purchasing a home both an exciting and important decision, so knowing all the details of the property will only make the process easier!
Come prepared to your next open house with a home loan pre-qualification in hand!