An open house can be a great way to check out all of your options when you're looking for the perfect home. If you're going to make a day of it, best do it like a rockstar. Obviously, that doesn't mean that you should light the bathtub on fire and throw the bed off the balcony, and you don't even have to bring an instrument. It does mean that you should drop into each venue like you're ready to own the place -- literally.
Before we get started, there are a few things you're going to want to bring.
- Tape measure – You're going to want to take measurements.
- Notebook – You've got to write them down.
- Folder – To keep your information sheets organized.
- Camera – Since people are often still living in open houses, it's a good idea to be polite and ask permission to shoot.
First, map out the tour to cut down on your driving between homes. As you approach each house, take a good look at the neighborhood and note the distance to amenities you might enjoy. Driving down the street, take stock of the other homes. You're buying a house, but neighbors and the neighborhood are part of the package.
Give yourself about 20 minutes on each house along your tour. Obviously, the house is going to be spruced up for the event, so look past the furniture and flowers -- really look at the bones of the house. You want to put your senses to work, looking for cracks, rust and water damage; sniffing out mold and mildew; and listening for creaks, acoustics, and neighborhood sounds. Open houses are one of the times where it's actually good to eavesdrop, and some of the other visitors (who could become competitive bidders) may notice things you haven't.
Don't be afraid to open doors and take as many measurements as you need, but obviously, be respectful of people's personal items. Is the storage space going to be enough for you? How does the house flow? Will the natural light be sufficient? Will open windows help you catch the breeze?
Save questions for the Realtor for the end of the tour. If you don't get the answers you're looking for from the house, whatever the Realtor might tell you is probably moot anyway. But when you do ask the questions, you should find out a few more things.
Ask how many days it has been on the market, which will give you an idea of how motivated the sellers may be. Ask what the utilities cost each month to get an idea of what you might be adding to your budget. Since the current residents might be present, and you really don't ever know who's listening, hold onto criticisms until you get back to your car.
It's a good idea to wear a poker face throughout, keep your emotions to yourself, and sail through like the house-hunting rockstar you are. That way you can view plenty of houses, capture the information you need most, and be one step closer to finding your perfect home.
Julian Yates is a top Sarasota Realtor who makes the process of house-hunting easy and efficient. If you're looking for a local professional to guide you through the purchase of a new home, please contact Julian today.
Sarasota Area Real Estate Specialist