Open houses are a great way to check out what’s for sale, and also a chance to interact with the seller’s agent, which you likely won’t get to do at a private showing. That interaction can get you more information than you could obtain from the listing—and here is what to ask to get that knowledge.
Ask About Offers, Asking Price Changes, And Time On The Market
Three simple questions can get you a lot of information: Do you have many offers? What price changes have there been? How long has the house been on the market?
While the agent might not be totally truthful regarding offers, you may glean from his or her reaction whether a bidding war is anticipated on the property. If there is an offer in, you might be able to get an idea of where you need to come in to put your offer ahead.
You can track pricing changes and length of time on the market online, but you won’t be able to discover the reasons why. The agent might divulge that a previous offer fell through, or that something has changed in the seller’s timeline forcing a price drop.
Ask About The Seller
A few simple questions about the seller can reveal motivation and willingness to take a lower price. Why is the seller moving? Taking a job in another state may mean the seller is in a hurry. Moving to a bigger house because a baby is on the way could be a sign of the same.
If you can’t glean it from the previous question, ask what the seller’s timeline is like. Some sellers are still shopping for their next home and may want a concurrent closing. On the opposite side of the coin, a seller who has already bought a new home might be in a rush to close.
Ask About The House
Questions you should ask about the house include when updates were done, particularly on pricey upgrades like a new roof, and what needs to be done. The older the house is, the more you need to ask about—like wiring and plumbing.
Ask about any known issues with the house. While this has to be disclosed by the seller, finding out when you are in the house allows you to inspect things, take photos, and get an idea of what work needs to be done.
Ask About The Neighborhood
The seller’s agent may not be able to tell you a whole lot about the neighborhood, but you would be surprised what striking up a conversation with other potential buyers can do. People at an open house are often from the area, and are checking out the local market.
Ask them if the neighborhood is kid-friendly, about noise levels and how easy it is to access things like restaurants and shopping.
Asking the right questions at an open house can give you a lot of much needed information. With all of that information at hand, you can make an informed decision as to whether to make an offer, how much to offer, and when to pass.