Before You Start
Most of these are things you will do well before the day of an open house itself. Buying a house is probably the most significant financial decision you will make, and there are many other factors to consider as well, since this is the place where you and your family may spend many years. If you have found a house that will be open for potential buyers this weekend, or in the next couple of weeks, here are some ways to prepare yourself.
- Go online and find out about other transactions and available houses in the neighborhood. If you have a realtor working for you, this is a report that he can easily put together for you. If you are still looking on your own, you can go to the website for a national realtor who posts all MLS-listed properties, like Remax, and browse by ZIP code to see other houses for sale to get an idea for comparable pricing. Other websites, like Trulia, offer a similar service but are not associated with one real estate company.
- Check out your new neighborhood. If you live in the same metropolitan area, this should be pretty easy. Don’t go during the afternoon, though; drive through at night and see what it’s like. What kind of cars do your potential neighbors have? What kind of activity goes on at night? Is there convenient shopping? What are the nearby parks like?
- Prepare your list of questions ahead of time. Some questions that will save you money down the road are: How old is the roof? How are the shingles rated? Are prior inspection reports available? What is the status of the foundation? Is the HVAC system original? If so, how old is it? What are the average utility costs? What are the zoned schools? What are the property taxes?
- Charge up your digital camera. Come prepared to take pictures of the interior and exterior, to augment what you can see online.
- Get your pre-approval letter from a lender. This will make the realtor a lot more talkative when it comes to answering your detailed questions; if she knows you are interested, she will be interested too.
When You Get There
There are some tips for attending an open house that you will use while you are there.
- Get there at the beginning. It’s likely that the realtor will be there alone, and you can get more individual attention for your questions.
- Dress like you can afford the house. Don’t wear your workout clothes or a sweatsuit. You don’t have to wear a suit, but there’s no reason to slum down. Show up clean-cut and wearing casual clothes that show you know how to take care of business. This will make the realtor pay attention to you as well.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Even if there are other potential buyers, don’t leave until all of your questions have been answered.
- Remember, there are many houses out there. If you see a red flag that kills the deal for you, move to the next house on your list.
- Have fun! This is your future dream home you’re shopping for.
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