If you plan on spending a weekend touring open houses, it’s a good idea to go into the process with as much information as possible. Let’s take a look at 3 tips you might want to keep in mind when planning your day of open house tours.
1. What to Bring with You
If you’ll be touring new home communities, the most important item you can bring with you is your real estate agent or, at the very least, his or her business card. Yes, the developer or builder has an agent on staff. And, yes, it may seem to be more convenient to utilize that agent’s services. “Seem” is the operative word here. Make no mistake: this agent works for the builder and while it may be legal for him or her to represent you as well, why take a chance that the builder’s interests will take precedence over yours? If your agent isn’t attending the tour with you, politely tell the builder’s agent that you have representation and make note of that fact on the sign-in sheet.
Have you made a wish list? Even a simple list of items each family member claims they can’t live without will help you focus while touring open houses.
Bring a camera or your phone so that you can take photos of items you’re unsure of or features you want to compare to your current home or other homes for sale. Will your sofa fit against that wall? Bring a tape measure with you when touring open houses and don’t be afraid to whip it out to measure any spaces you’re unsure of. If you are viewing older homes, bring a can. Yes, a can. It doesn’t matter what’s in it (deodorant, soda, etc.). Older homes are notorious for having sloping floors and if you suspect the one you’re viewing does, lay the can on its side on the floor. If it rolls, the floors slope.
2. The Real Estate Agent
Just as it’s not wise to use the builder’s agent in the purchase of a home, so it goes with the listing agent of an existing home. It costs you nothing as a buyer to have your own agent so why not secure your own agent who will represent only your interests?
Take your time at the open house and don’t allow the real estate agent to rush you. View the items pointed out, but then inspect the rest of the room. There is no such thing as a stupid question when you are considering making the largest purchase of your life. Ask whatever questions pop up.
3. Be Suspicious
Most of the time, staging is performed to present the home in its best light and to make an emotional appeal to potential buyers. Sometimes, however, it is done to mask certain imperfections. Soft music playing, for example, may be an attempt to mask the incessant barking of the dog next door or noises through the thin walls of a condo. While most buyers today prefer to shop online for a home, some still drive the open house circuit, hoping to find their dream home. If that s you, and you do happen to find it, call your agent immediately and get the ball rolling toward making it your own.