Open houses can be fun and exciting when you’re shopping for a home, but they’re more than just delicious appetizers and a casual social environment. To get the most out of your open house visits, they require prep work, keen attention to detail, and follow-up. Open houses can be a powerful tool for buyers, offering insight and aiding in the decision-making process.
It’s important to use every home you walk into as an opportunity to learn more about the home itself, as well as the neighborhood, local amenities and schools. Below are some tips to make the most out of any open house experience.
With the abundance of online information available today, almost all purchases should begin with online research, and home shopping is no different. Online tools such as LosAngelesSouthBay.com allow home hunters to find properties that are open in the neighborhoods you’re interested in. Sites like LosAngelesSouthBay.com also typically have a mobile app with GPS capabilities, allowing you to look up home information while you’re on the go.
Keep Your Best Poker Face
Even if you walk into your perfect house, never make an offer on the spot, especially if you’re a novice home buyer. It’s important to keep your best poker face. Get at least a block away and then call your Realtor. Don’t jump up and down with excitement in the driveway, which could potentially cause you to lose leverage as a buyer.
Evaluate the Exterior
As you walk into an open house, pay close attention to the exterior paint and the state of the roof. Does the paint look fresh or is it chipping/dirty? Do the shingles look like they need replacing in the next 2-5 years? What is the condition of gutters or any other key items on the exterior? These are signs of how well the home is maintained.
The house might look fantastic, but a keen eye can identify potential structural challenges that could cost you big in the long run. Determine the condition of the walls and ceilings. Can you see any significant damage, dents or cracks? Also note any sloping floors as you walk through the property. Check that doors all open and close as they should. If these visible items are not in the best condition, it may be a red flag and indicate larger unseen structural issues. If you decide to make an offer, never waive an inspection, even if the property is newly constructed. Foundation issues can be costly and it’s better to know what you’re getting into up front. It may cost a few hundred dollars for an inspection, but the peace of mind is priceless.
Properties are often carefully presented at open houses. Thanks to professional staging and artfully arranged rugs covering scuffs and stains on floors, there’s likely something you’re not seeing. Ask your agent for an additional viewing of the home after the open house has closed. Without people around, you’ll be free to check for flaws that might’ve been concealed during the open house.
Neighbors and Neighborhood
What looks great by day might not be so nice at night. Open houses are scheduled optimally, and what you see during an early morning showing might not reflect what a neighborhood is like at night. Drive through the area after dark to see what the community is like once the sun goes down.
Take Pictures and Property Flyers
Gather and keep the brochures or printout information sheets on the houses you see to keep track of them. Take pictures and notes as you walk around each home because if you see multiple homes in one day, they’ll all start to blend together.
Shop for Your Agent
Even if you decide to pass on the home, it may not have been a complete waste of time. If you aren’t already working with a real estate expert, open houses are a fantastic opportunity to find an agent. You are able to see them in action and determine whether he/she is knowledgeable, informative, and hard working. Take their card and jot a quick note on the back to remind yourself later about the interaction.
Ready to put all your newfound open house knowledge into practice? Check out our South Bay Open House List for properties open this weekend.
See all the fun things to do in the South Bay. View our calendar of upcoming events.
More real estate resources.