Home buyers need information to make the best decision for their needs. An open house is a prime time to ask key questions that can (and should) influence your ability and desire to buy a home. The home seller isn’t present, providing an excellent time to talk to your agent about your ideas, needs, and concerns. More so, there are several key areas you need to know about before you walk out the door. Ask these questions.
Are There Any Problems with the House?
At the time of a sale, the seller must legally disclose anything he or she knows is wrong with the home. This information is not a requirement to share at the open house, though. It is up to you to inquire about them.
Your real estate agent will likely have all the information necessary to answer this question. Some may wish not to share it immediately with you, either determining it not be a big factor right away or because they want you to love the home before they share the repair needs. In all cases, the home buyer needs to ask. What potential issues are present with the home? Doing this during the home’s tour also gives you an ability to check out where the problem is, note how extensive it is, and potentially even troubleshoot some ideas for solving it.
If there are problems, and they are not disclosed on the seller’s information, you may be able to back out of the contract or your bid on the home. The property’s home inspection can help minimize the risk you’ll miss key concerns.
Have There Been Any Offers on the Property?
As you walk through a home, you may be intrigued and even interested in buying it. But, before you do place an offer, ask this question. Learning if there are offers on the property is an important step for you. It gives you some insight into the amount of demand present for the property. If there is a significant amount of demand, and several offers on the property, you will need to decide for yourself quickly. If not, you may be able to negotiate prices and concessions a bit more.
The selling agent is not obligated to share this information with you. However, you should be able to tell based on the reaction you get from asking your agent about it. He or she is likely to know. There are rules about what happens when multiple offers occur. If you are seeing the home, chances are good you can still make an offer if you would like to do so. Confidentiality agreements can limit the amount of information shared with you.
Has the Price of the Home Changed?
Note the price of the home for sale. Then, ask the agent if the price has changed any. It is important to know that it is common for homes to be listed at one price and for this price to change over the course of the listing. Local market conditions will play a role in this process.
Also, note whether the seller is asking the same price as he or she bought the home for previously. If not, what has changed to increase or decrease its value? If the price has changed since it was listed on the market this time, find out why. Perhaps the seller needs to sell faster and lowered the price to spark interest. Sometimes, the drop in price stems from a lack of interest in buyers. It may have been overpriced when it initially went on the market.
When there is a price change, this could signal an opportunity to save money. The seller may be willing to negotiate the price further, potentially allowing you to save money on the price. If the price has not changed at all, this can make it very difficult for you to negotiate. Price changes around the 30-day mark on the list are not uncommon, but clear signals of an opportunity for the buyer.
How Long Has the Home Been Listed on the Market
Time is a very important component when it comes to the seller’s needs and the available buyers. In some markets, homes sell within a matter of days. In other areas, they typically sit for 30 days or more. How long it is on the market can mean various things, depending on these local market conditions. This information should be used by yourself and your agent to determine the best type of price to offer if you decide to buy the home.
For example, if the home has been on the market for three months with no offers, this can indicate an overpriced home or one with a significant amount of damage on the structure. Work with your agent to determine why it is still present. Other times, the seller may not be in a rush to sell and wants a full-price offer. If the home has just recently been added to the market and has offers, it may be important for you to act right away, too. Market timelines can be important negotiating tools for anyone buying a home.
Why Is the Seller Selling or Moving?
Next, find out why they are moving in the first place. It may not always be possible to gather this information – the seller does not have to disclose this information and the selling agent may be breaching confidentiality by sharing this information.
Many times, the reason can be valuable to you if you can determine what it is. For example, the home seller may be moving to relocate for a job. They are leaving, but not because they do not like their home. If, on the other hand, they are leaving due to disputes with the neighbor next door, this is something you may wish to note. Most agents will not share details about negative aspects unless they can play a significant role in the condition of the home.
Even if the agent cannot or will not provide information, you may still be able to learn something about this reason. It can also spur you to investigate the neighborhood a bit more fully to know what you are going into throughout the process. Use this information to help you decide if you wish to buy as well as how much to offer.
How Much Are the Utilities for the Home?
Utilities are dependent on the way a person uses the home, of course. However, it is possible to get a general idea of what costs are. This can be a very important step in every situation. You need to know what you will likely pay before you put in an offer. Utility bills range based on the homeowner’s use, the local access to power and services, the size of the home, and other factors.
Most of the time, the MLS listing will include some basic information about utility costs. If it is not provided or you want more details, ask the real estate agent about it. They can calculate a basic dollar amount for you to use as a deciding tool. There is no guarantee this will accurately represent the home’s actually costs, though. If you are serious about buying the home, and you want to place an offer, you may be able to call local utility companies to get an estimate for that property based on the features you want and the current costs. Your real estate agent can give you local estimates in nearly all cases. This information can give you some idea of what your budget may be.
What Local Amenities Are Available?
In every situation, it can be valuable to know how well the community fits your needs and your lifestyle. During the open house, take a walk around the community if possible. Ask the agent about local retailers, restaurants, and services. Where are the gas stations? Where are the local parks? Having this information gives you a starting point to know if this neighborhood could meet your needs.
Then, learn about the immediate future of the neighborhood. Are there any planned construction projects in the area? What about the land behind your home? Could it be developed into a new subdivision or is it protected? Are there industrial businesses operating or soon to be operating in the area?
You may wish to pull up Google Maps and look at the community from this vantage point. It can give you insight into the area’s layout, locations of freeways, and what’s nearby to your home.
Using the opening house to ask questions like this gives you a valuable amount of information you can use to form your opinion about any home you see. Having this information immediately available to you during the open house allows you to make the right decisions about negotiating a price for the home, too. Your agent should work closely with you to answer all of these questions.