If you saw a listing and are interested in a home, an open house can give you an opportunity to view it and speak to the seller’s agent with less pressure than you might feel if you scheduled a private viewing. To make the most of an open house, it’s important to ask the right questions.
Get Details on the Home and Community
In most states, real estate agents are required to disclose any known problems with a house. Inquire specifically about hazards such as mold, asbestos and high radon levels, even if they were addressed in the past, and whether the house has ever flooded.
Ask about any renovations and updates that have been made, especially if the home is older. If the house needs major repairs, such as a new roof or plumbing or electrical system upgrades, the seller might be willing to make those improvements before you buy or agree to lower the price.
Find out how much the utilities cost on average. If the house is larger than your current residence or isn’t energy efficient, the utility bills may be much higher than you’re used to, which could be a drain on your overall budget.
Ask about local restaurants, stores and activities, as well as the area’s crime rate. Find out if the house is close to an airport, factory, or another business that could produce noise or odors that might bother you. Ask if the neighborhood has mostly families or older or younger residents. If you have children, ask for details about the schools they would attend.
Get Information on the Owner and the Selling Process
Ask why the owner is selling the home and his or her preferred timeline. Someone who’s in a hurry to sell a house to start a new job may be willing to lower the price. An agent shouldn’t provide too much personal information on the seller, but if the agent is reluctant to answer your question at all, there could be a serious problem with the house or the neighborhood.
Ask how long the house has been on the market and whether the price has changed. If a For Sale sign has been outside for months, there may be problems with the house or the neighborhood, or the home may be priced too high. If the price has been reduced significantly and the house is still on the market, that should be a red flag.
If you’re interested in the house, ask if anyone else has made an offer. Multiple interested buyers can trigger a bidding war, which means the final sale price can be significantly higher than the current asking price.
Ask the Right Questions
An open house is an opportunity to gather important information and figure out if a house might meet your needs and preferences. Before you attend an open house, prepare a list of questions to ask the listing agent so you can make the most of your visit.