Top 5 Open House Tips for Buyers

Going to open houses can be time-consuming. Here are my top 5 open house tips for buyers, to help you make the most of your visits.

1. Learn about the market without committing

Open houses make it possible for anyone to see a property during a certain time period without an appointment. New buyers should leverage the opportunity to get a feel for the market. In today’s world, using online search tools, mobile apps and the open house, a buyer can start to get a feel for pricing and the market before committing to an agent. Most importantly, open houses are some of the best ways for buyer and agent relationships to start.

2. Don’t sign in unless you want to (but don’t be rude)

The biggest fear of some newer buyers is that a real estate agent at an open house will be all over them, asking for their contact information and then harassing them for eternity. It happens. So if you don’t want to give your information, don’t.

But it’s also common courtesy to at least recognize and say hello to the agent at the open house. Don’t forget: In addition to trying to sell the home for her client, for safety reasons, the agent is keeping a look out for who’s coming and going. It’s polite to say hello and introduce yourself to the agent. If you’re an active buyer, let the seller’s agent know who your agent is. Don’t be afraid to express interest. When it comes time to review an offer with a seller, listing agents like to put a face to a name.

3. Watch what other buyers do

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. If you’re interested, too, observing other buyers at the open house could help you learn about the competition.

4. Ask the agent questions

The real estate agent is there for a reason. It’s his job to answer the questions of potential buyers. He should know more than anyone about the property and the seller.

Watch the agent’s facial expression and reaction to your questions. If it’s a competitive market, ask questions such as: “Why is the seller selling?” “Is there a certain day to review offers or have you had a lot of showings?” In a slow market, ask how long the property has been on the market and what the seller’s motivations are. A good agent will engage you because it’s good for his seller.

5. Be receptive to meeting your future agent

When considering a new doctor, lawyer or CPA, you don’t get the chance to see them in their element until you’ve decided to work with them. Not true for real estate agents. Some of the best buyer/seller/real estate relationships begin at open houses.

A good agent is wearing two hats at the open house. In addition to watching the serious buyers and getting feedback for the seller, an active agent is also looking to interact with future clients.

Face to face, informal and relevant, the interaction with an agent at an open house is important. You can get a feel for a person just from a brief meeting. If you sense the agent could be someone you could work with, ask some open-ended questions, such as “How’s the market?” and “What areas do you cover?”

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