If you’re a first-time home buyer who is just starting the process of looking at houses, then a range of emotions are probably swirling around in your head. There’s the financial stress of making a huge life decision, the anticipation and excitement of owning your very own piece of real estate, and the fear of not knowing what to do.
If you’re like most, the latter emotion first wells up inside of you as you’re driving to your first open house. Suddenly – usually when you’re pulling up in front of the property – excitement turns into fear and questions start to pile up. What am I supposed to do? What if somebody asks me a question and I don’t have the right answer? What if I hate the house?
It may sound silly to those who have never been in the situation, but some people even “chicken out” and put the car in reverse. Are you unsure of what to expect at an open house?
If so, you aren’t alone.
Open House Advice Worth Heeding
It’s totally normal to feel anxious about attending your first open house, but you don’t need to be nervous. In most cases, open houses are laid back and enjoyable. But there are some things you should know before blindly stumbling into one.
Let’s take a look at seven specific pieces of advice:
- Do Your Homework Ahead of Time
The best piece of advice is to come prepared to every open house by doing your homework ahead of time. No – the agent isn’t going to grill you on details of the property and kick you out if you don’t have the answers– but you’ll be much better informed if you have a basic understanding.
You should know basics like square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, school zoning, price, number of days on the market, and basic details about the neighborhood.
Agents are often tough to get a hold of if there are lots of people at the open house; you don’t want to waste your time waiting around to ask a basic question that could have been found online.
- Look Past Surface Level Details
One mistake home buyers frequently make is letting surface level details influence their perception of a home. For example, there are people who are immediately turned off because they can’t stand the paint color in a bedroom or the counter tops in the kitchen. You have to remember that these are merely cosmetic issues. You can fix them with a few hundred dollars and a little elbow grease.
The mark of a savvy home buyer is the ability to look past surface level details and instead evaluate a home for what it really is. This means paying attention to the floor plan, the condition of the roof, and the integrity of the foundation – not the way the furniture is laid out in the living room or the brand of dishwasher in the kitchen.
- Ask Lots of Questions
While you should do your homework ahead of time and make sure you understand the basics of a property before attending the open house, don’t be shy about asking the listing agent some questions. Here are some smart questions to ask:
- How old is the roof?
- How long have the current owners had the property?
- Why are they selling?
- Where are the property lines – and what size is the lot?
- How quickly can the seller close?
Feel free to pick the brain of the agent. The more they talk, the more information you have to make an educated decision regarding whether you want to make an offer.
- Take Notes
If you’re someone who is prone to forgetting things, it’s probably wise to carry around a pen and jot down some notes on the back of the listing flyer. This will help you keep the details straight when you get home (and is especially smart if you’re visiting multiple open houses in the same day).
- Observe Other Buyers
“You can tell a lot about the activity and marketability of a home by watching the other buyers,” national real estate expert Brendon DeSimone suggests. “If you observe a lot of people walking in and out quickly, the home probably has some issues. Are the buyers hanging around, asking questions of the listing agent and huddling in the corner talking to their spouses or partners? If so, it could be a sign this is a well-priced and ‘hot’ listing.”
You don’t want to be the creepy guy in the corner who listens in on everyone’s conversations, but do be aware of what’s happening around you. Seasoned homebuyers know a thing or two about spotting good deals and you can learn from them.
- Be Polite
As a prospective buyer, you have a lot more leverage than the seller (especially if you’re located in a slow market). But don’t let this go to your head. You still need to be polite and respectful of the property you’re seeing. Remember that you’re in someone else’s house; they ultimately have the final say in whether you’re able to purchase the home. Listing agents are observant and will give their clients feedback.
- Don’t Feel Pressured
Don’t get caught up in the frenzy of an open house. Agents are master marketers and spend a lot of time and energy on building anticipation. They know that perception is everything and will use a steady stream of visitors to make people feel like there’s more demand. Don’t feel pressured and never make an offer on the spot.
Find Your Dream Home
If you’re looking for your dream house, you’ve come to the right place. On our site, you can browse some of the top MLS real estate listings across the greater Houston area and find properties that fit both your budget and needs.
Feel free to take a look around and be sure to let us know if you have any questions!