The Home Buyers Guide to Attending an Open House | 2-10 Blog

Making the Most of an Open House: What to Look For, Questions to Ask & More

If you’ve found a listing you are serious about and are considering buying, attending an open house lets you visualize what it might really be like to live there. It also presents the perfect opportunity to learn more about the property, ask the seller’s agent questions on the listing and identify potential issues.

Before you attend another open house, review this quick guide to learn how to get the most value from your time.

Scout out the Neighborhood

Give yourself plenty of time to walk and drive around the neighborhood, and don’t be afraid to say hi to the neighbors. You’ll gain a better perspective into what life is like in that community, which is invaluable if you’re serious about a property.

Signs of Foundation Problems

A home’s foundation is incredibly important and issues often require costly fixes. Your investigation won’t replace the professional guidance of a home inspector or structural engineer, but obvious issues might mean you choose to walk away from a house.

If you’re not sure how to spot foundation problems, give this helpful article a review: How Do I Identify Foundation Problems in My House?

Additional Red Flags

Foundation problems aren’t the only warning signs you might find. Be on the lookout for these additional issues that could be expensive to fix:

  • Poor tiling workmanship may indicate other sloppy work, especially in a house that has been flipped.
  • Strong scents which could be masking offensive odors.
  • Clear signs of missed home maintenance (learn more about what proper maintenance entails here.)
  • Musty odor or signs of mold could indicate water damage, even if the signs aren’t obvious.

Best Questions to Ask

The current homeowner’s listing agent will be available to answer questions, so take advantage of the opportunity to find out more about the property. Here are the top five questions to ask:

  1. When does the seller want to move?

    If the seller is in a hurry to move, that insider information could come in handy at the negotiating table. The seller’s timeline could also impact your own timing. If you’re in a hurry to move, but the current residents are in no rush, that could become problematic.

  2. When does the seller hope to close?

    Most closings occur within 30 to 45 days after an offer is accepted, but the seller may be hoping for a different timeline. For example, they may need time to find another home once this one sells.

  3. Are there any offers?

    A listing agent can’t give you specific details about existing offers, like price, but they can tell you if any have been made. This allows you to assess the overall interest in the home and plan your own offer strategy accordingly.

  4. Is the seller flexible on price?

    Listing agents want to help their sellers get top dollar, but that doesn’t mean you can’t glean useful intel from this question. The agent may even surprise you by saying yes.

  5. What are the average utility costs during the summer and winter?

    There’s more to the cost of home ownership than the mortgage. Utilities in some homes are hefty, especially in older homes with drafty windows and poor insulation. Costs can also fluctuate greatly depending on the season, and you’ll want these details before making an offer.

Don’t hesitate to take notes, either. You’ll attend a lot of open houses during your search, and good notes will make it easier to compare properties as you zero in on your dream home.

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