Open House Pitfalls, Tips and Etiquette for Buyers

Open HouseSo, you’re thinking of buying a home … where do you begin? Potential buyers new to the real estate market may not know exactly what they want in a home, or where they want to live. The dream homes in magazines are a great way to get ideas, and looking at pictures of homes online can narrow down some likes and dislikes for you. However, to get the feel of the right home for you and your family, and a sense of what is important for your new home to have, plan to take advantage of open house events.

Here are some tips for making the most of your open house visits.

DO dress comfortably. You may be climbing stairs, checking out basements and attics, or walking from home to home in a single neighborhood, so wear clothing appropriate for both in and out-of-doors.

DO allow plenty of time for each home you plan to visit. If you like the home, take time to drive or walk through the neighborhood afterward.

DO bring your list of likes, dislikes and must-have’s. Make sure to add to your list options or new ideas you see in an open house. These will help your real estate agent find the right home for you.

DO sign in. However, if you already have a real estate agent, or plan to use a specific agent, be sure to inform the host. Remember, this is how an agent makes his living. You don’t want your home-buying experience marred by conflict between agents each having a claim on your purchase.

DO make a list of questions for your real estate agent to ask the selling agent.

DON’T bring children to an open house. Most often, the open house is still the homeowners’ home and contains their belongings, which might be an unintended tempation to small hands.

DON’T expect an open house to be childproofed.

DON’T bring pets to an open house.

DON’T look in cupboards, closets or drawers that the host indicates are off-limits. Your agent can arrange for a more in-depth viewing at another time.

DON’T be deceived by air fresheners and other masking odors. Each of us responds to different odors subconsciously. If you sense an overabundance of deodorizers, the source simply may be a recently removed litterbox, or it could indicate a deeper problem like mold. Make a note to look for the source on a private visit to the house with your real estate agent.

DO ask permission before pulling out your camera phone. Respect the seller’s privacy.

DON’T ask questions about what type of offer the owner will entertain. Those negotiations are your real estate agent’s job. The selling agent represents the interest of the seller, not the potential buyer. Write down your questions and follow up with your own real estate agent as soon as possible.

DON’T arrange a follow-up visit with the host unless she is your agent. Let your own agent arrange for a return viewing.

DO collect the host agent’s business card and contact information to pass on to your agent.

If you want to make an offer on the home, DO call your agent as soon as possible.

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