Open house dos & Don’ts

Open House Dos & Don’ts

Congratulations on finishing our buyer consultation! I am sure you are more clear of where to live, what kind house you want and how to get it!

An open house is a crucial part of the home buying process for buyers—not just to view and potentially find a next home. But to become acquainted with homes on the market, scope out competing buyers and strategize for putting in an offer. It involves an incredible amount of strategy and foresight, the likes of which most prospective homebuyers don’t even realize.

But an open house is also where a lot of buyers can make mistakes. Buyers might be chatty to disclose information about their own financials, about their own timeline, what they may or may not be looking for and even further, maybe voicing their interest in a whole new way that may make it difficult to negotiate strongly for them down the line. I’ve heard “not enough closet space”, “The kids are going to love the loft”, “I don’t like the entry, let’s negotiate later” It’s not in your best interest to say much of anything!

I prefer to attend open houses with my clients whenever possible, not only to help keep negotiation strategies in mind, but also to treat the open house as a learning opportunity for buyers.

Bring me when possible, this allows us to remain on the same page. If I am not around, here are:

Seven things you can do to maximize your next open house visit:
  • Be polite to the Host, but put on your poker face. When speaking with the listing agent, smile and greet him/her, tell him/her you already have an agent and say my name or give him/her my business card. Please feel free to ask and answer general questions, but don’t share key details such as a tight timeline, high-price mortgage approval or how much you love the home, to avoid compromising your negotiating power. Remember, anything you say can and will be used against you in a potential negotiation. While you’re keeping a straight face, let me do the talking afterwards. I will be better able to get details about the seller’s expectations without revealing too much about your situation, making it possible to negotiate a stronger deal for you.
  • Focus on the home’s big-ticket features. It’s easy to get distracted by cosmetic updates and flashy features, but look behind the surface and what’s really going on with the property. Go around the house look the exterior.
  • Ask before taking photos and videos. Remember, in many cases, the home is still someone’s private residence so before you snap a photo, ask permission.
  • Watch your kids. Some homes are staged with fake furniture, suck as airbeds and cardboard box couches. So make sure don’t let your kids climb on the bed or sofa.
  • Hold the criticism until after you leave. Regardless of your thoughts on the home, it’s best to remain mum until you are out of earshot of the listing agent. Like you learned in kindergarten, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Again, the seller still calls the place home. So don’t badmouth it during the tour. Who knows who may be listening—the seller, a neighbor, a friend? If you end up in a multiple offer situation where price and terms are similar, you don’t want the seller choosing the other buyer because he heard you criticizing his home.
  • Listen to other buyers or neighbors. You may be a serious buyer, but you’re new to the market and haven’t seen enough to know how to react to a particular home, its price or how it shows. Chances are, there are more experienced buyers at the open house who do know. Are people walking in and out without much consideration? Not a good sign. Are buyers hovering around the agent asking all kinds of questions Chances are, it’s going to be competitive. Neighbors may know something you don’t know about the property or neighborhood, such as the barking dog next door. You don’t have to divulge details of your own search, but you never know what someone else might say.
  • Schedule an appointment with me to revisit the house. If you like the house and would like to put in an offer, schedule a private showing outside of the open house hours. This will give you the chance to take your time and form an opinion without other competing buyers serving as a distraction. You will feel the difference without music, cookie smell and crowded competitors. Above all, trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t let the beauty of a perfectly staged home sway you into making a decision that isn’t right for you. 

You will find most information in disclosures or I can find out for you. Questions you can ask during the open house (or don’t ask):

  • Don’t ask why is the owner selling the house. Listing agent hates to hear and answer this question over and over again. Does it really matter? Most of time, you will hear relocation.
  • Are there any issues with the house?
  • Any death on the property within 3 years?
  • Any rental restriction, pet restriction if it’s in HOA and what does HOA cover?
  • If the seller still lives in the house, ask if they want rent back and when they are moving out.
  • When was the house last updated?