I love open houses. An open house brings a listing to life. It’s an opportunity for potential buyers in all parts of the homebuying process to picture their lives in that home, to open all the closet doors, and to ask all sorts of questions.
As an agent, open houses are an opportunity for me to meet the community, answer questions, and help people in their homebuying journey however I can.
Sometimes an open house will see just a few people stop by during an entire afternoon. Other times, over a hundred groups may come through.
Regardless, I highly recommend that you ask a few questions at each open house. Even if you’re not interested in that particular home, you may get some valuable advice about the neighborhood or tips about the homebuying process, all for free!
Based on where you are in your homebuying journey and how right you think that particular home might be for you, there are 3 types of questions you should ask at an open house.
Questions about the Neighborhood
If you’re fairly early in the homebuying process, are just starting to research this particular neighborhood, or are not terribly interested in this particular home, ask about the neighborhood. Often, you’ll be able to get more detailed and personal accounts of the neighborhood than you’d be able to get through a Wikipedia article.
Here are a few questions you might ask about the neighborhood:
- What is this neighborhood like?
- I work in San Francisco. What are the commute options?
- What schools are in the area?
- Are there a lot of homes for sale in this area?
- What are your favorite nearby shops or restaurants? How far away are they?
- Would you feel safe walking around this neighborhood at night?
If you see any neighbors in their yards, I’d also highly recommend asking them a few questions about their experience living there and what the neighborhood is like. Often, you’ll find that neighbors are eager to share their experiences, and you can get a lot of invaluable insights through those conversations.
Questions about the Home
If you have at least a moderate interest in the home, there are a few questions you can ask to get more information about the guts of the home. While you can see things like types of countertops and paint colors, there are things behind the walls and in the history of the home that will take more digging.
An open house is a great opportunity to start that digging and get more information that you might not be able to get through the listing. Here are a few questions to help you dig deeper:
- Are there any disclosures or reports?
- If so, are there any major condition issues?
- Are there any items in the pest report that need to be cleared? If so, how much would it cost to clear them?
- How old is the roof?
- Has any unpermitted work been done to the house?
Be sure to grab any business cards and listing information flyers if you’re interested in the home, and make notes as you walk through and ask questions, so you can remember those details later.
Questions about the Sale
If you’re at a point in the homebuying process where you’re ready to buy, and you’re also pretty interested in the home, you should also ask questions about sale of house, so you can position your offer to be as attractive as possible to the seller.
Learning more about the seller and their needs, as well as the agent and their thoughts on the sale, will help you start to think about the offer you might want to make and when you should make it. Here are a few questions you could ask:
- Is there an offer date? / When are offers due?
- Are you seeing a lot of interest in this home?
- How long has this home been on the market?
- What do you think it will actually sell for?
- What types of financing will the seller accept?
- What would make my offer stand out?
I get TONS of these types of questions at an open house. People seem particularly interested in my thoughts on how much the house will actually sell for. I generally point to comparable homes that recently sold in the area and provide a realistic range. But I’m always happy to provide additional thoughts to those who ask.
Regardless of the questions you ask, asking those questions will open the door to the opportunity to dig deeper and get information about the neighborhood, home, and sale that just can’t get through researching the home online.
So get out there! Hit up some open houses, ask some questions, and have a great time. Hope to see you at an open house soon.