If you're currently on the hunt for your next home, chances are you may be spending part of your Sunday checking out open houses. You probably already know the drill -- check the listings, map your route, then spend half the day touring other people's homes with your hopes up. But once you get there, do you know what to look for at an open house so that you're spending your time as wisely as possible? Ideally, every home you view will be properly staged to highlight the home's best features and potential. In reality, we know that's often not the case. So, to help you keep your eyes on the prize -- finding that wonderful home that meets your needs, at a price you can afford -- try to remember these helpful tips as you look at open houses:
- Keep your wish list in mind -- everything you know you need, want, and don't want in your next home -- as you view open houses. Need a garage, but realize the home only has off-street parking? Graciously make your exit and move on to the next one. (We'll have more details on the importance of a wish list in an upcoming Roost Blog post!)
- Look beyond the clutter -- even the most spacious and beautiful home can feel cramped and messy with too much stuff. Just remember -- that stuff won't be there when you move in!
- Most of the time, outdated fixtures, paint colors, etc., can be easily (and inexpensively) changed. Too many times, we've heard of buyers who turned down an otherwise wonderful home because the paint colors and light fixtures weren't their style. But they don't have to be a deal-breaker.
- Sometimes, staging helps to mask real issues in a home -- so even when a home appears to be "picture perfect," be sure to look closely for any defects. Take heart that should you move forward with an accepted offer, a good home inspector will catch anything worth noting.
- Imagine how you would really live in a home -- love the crown molding in the formal dining room, but you prefer eating dinner in the more casual kitchen? Another home might be a better fit.
- If a home isn't right for you, there's a good chance the agent hosting the open house will know of one nearby that might better meet your needs. So don't be afraid to ask them questions! Agents look at homes all day and usually are better experts on the local housing stock than online sources like Zillow. (Do remember -- if you're already working with a Realtor, be sure to mention that to the agent hosting the open house.)
- If you're working with an agent, be sure to talk with them about any open houses, both before and after you've looked at them. Your Realtor may have already viewed the properties and can give you additional information -- and knowing what you did or didn't like about each one can help them do their job.
- Open houses can be a great way to explore neighborhoods -- so even if a home isn't right for you, it's a good chance to meet the neighbors, scope out the nearby amenities, and get to know the area.
Want to read more? Here's some great advice from FrontDoor.com about open house etiquette for buyers, some helpful open house tips from CNNMoney, and some great suggestions on open house red flags from HomeFinder!