Tips for Touring Open Houses As a First-Time Home Buyer
A lot of the people who tour open houses are just nosy neighbors and people with some free time on their hands. If you are a serious house hunter, the realtor hosting the open house will be happy to talk to you and you should use this opportunity to get as much valuable information as you can by knowing what to look for and by asking some important questions.
What to Look for When Touring an Open House
The Home’s Exterior
Walk around the house and take a careful look as you do. Do you see any obvious signs of deferred maintenance? Does the roof look like it will need to be repaired or replaced in the near future? Is the paint faded or chipping? If you see things that need to be fixed, keep in mind that if you end up purchasing the home, these things will be your responsibility. If you see a lot of things that need to be repaired, you can also use this information to negotiate a better purchase price.
The Home’s Interior
You’re looking for a lot of the same types of things inside. Are there a lot of items that will need to be repaired or replaced? Of course, if you decide to make an offer on a home, you can have your offer contingent on the home being inspected by a professional, so there are some things you should look for other than deferred maintenance.
Is the layout of the home something you would be happy with? Are there enough bedrooms and bathrooms? Does the house get a lot of natural light? Is there plenty of closet space? These types of things will be your personal preference, but it’s good to keep them in mind as you are touring the home.
In addition to the home itself, it’s a good idea to drive around a bit and get a feel for the neighborhood. Look at the other homes in the neighborhood and see if they are well kept.
Some Important Questions to Ask the Realtor
You’ll be able to negotiate a better purchase price if you’re working with a motivated seller and there are a number of questions you can ask that will give you some information about a seller’s motivation. You can ask about how long the house has been on the market and how many offers have been made. If a house has been on the market for a long time and has had no offers, the seller may be willing to lower their asking price.
You can also ask why the seller wants to move. This question can not only give you information about the seller’s motivation, it can also give you some clues about the neighborhood you would be moving into. You might be able to find out if the seller wants to move because they have annoying neighbors, or there’s a lot of crime in the area, or the school system is bad.
Some other valuable questions to ask are how much do the utilities cost? When was the house last updated? Are there any known issues with the house? These types of questions will give you a lot of information to help you determine if the house you’re looking at is the right one for you, or if you should continue house hunting.