Essential Open House Tips
Real estate open houses are often portrayed as informal meet-and-greets. Potential buyers walk around the house, share some, “oohs” and “ahhs”, and generally act like robotic characters out of the the Sims.
As an agent, I see buyers miss many of the fundamental benefits when attending an open house. Here is the deal: You are already there; it does not take any time, and barely any effort, to try to gather as much as possible out of an open house.
Tip #1: Schedule an Open House Appointment
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many agents now require that buyers schedule an appointment before attending an open house. Even if an open house is scheduled on a local MLS, the open house or showing description (where it says you must make an appointment), may not have fed through to third-party sites like Zillow or Redfin.
You should always call, or text, your agent, or the listing agent, to make an appointment before going to an open house. Sometimes agents have broker only open houses before public ones and if you, a buyer, inquire respectfully they will let you attend. This benefit will give you some additional time to digest the home before deciding whether you want to make an offer.
Tip #2: Talk With the Listing Agent
Once at an open house, the listing agent, or a representative, is usually greeting prospective buyers as they walk in. This is a fantastic time to engage the listing agent in a constructive dialogue.
For example, I have had many buyers casually ask a listing agent if the sellers would consider an offer of X minus $10,000, where X is the listing price. Many agents simply want to stop wasting their Sundays at the same stale listing, and may give you honest answers to any questions you have.
Generally, the nicer you are to a listing agent the more they are willing to share. Remember, most agents are professionals: They have to respect the listing contract they have with the sellers. However, a smile goes a long way.
Also note, in a multiple offer situation, a listing agent will present such proposals to a seller. If they remember you as a nice person, couple etc. from the open house, they might just put your offer on the top of the pile.
While you are at it, if you see a passing jogger, dog walker, etc. outside of the open house, try to strike up a conversation. Sometimes a
disgruntled neighbor will be willing to let you know important information (which may be positive or not) about the home being sold, such as recent exterior damage that was covered up.
Tip #3 Take Pictures and Videos of the Property
If you plan to attend five open houses on the same day, by the third house you will probably have forgotten the layout of the first. By the fifth and final home, you may not even remember what the first one looks like.
The simple solution is to ask the listing agent if you can take photos and/or a video of the home. I always recommend a video, if time allows. Think about this: Witnesses often forget what they saw just minutes after they viewed an important event. A short video walkthrough will be extremely useful when comparing properties at a later date and time.
Conclusion – Real Estate Open House Tips
Real estate open houses offer a unique opportunity to interact with agents, and gather more information about a home. Make sure to use all of the tools available to get the most out of attending one.
Above all, act respectful, show up with a smile, and things might just go your way. If you want to read a story of how NOT to act an open house, check out this article.