10 Questions to ASK at an Open House

An open house is a great way to check out new neighborhoods, get a feel for what you might be looking for in a house or even finding a real estate professional to be your buyer's agent. But many people who tour an open home are looking at it with the potential of living there.
When you walk into an open house, don't just take a poke around the beds and baths and move on. Make sure you ask the agent the questions below – even take notes if you need to!
How long has the home been on the market? 
Agents often hold open houses when first marketing the property, but it's also a marketing tactic to hold an open house after a price drop or if the sellers switch real estate agents. Knowing all the details will help you decide your next move, such as if and what to offer. If the home's been on the market a few months, the sellers might be willing to accept a lower offer.

Have there been any offers? Why weren't they accepted? 
This question lets you know how much competition there is for the property. Finding out why the sellers didn't accept a particular offer also helps you write a better offer that could meet their approval.

Why are the owners selling? 
The sellers' agent has a responsibility to them not to disclose factors that might hurt the seller's chances at getting the best offer possible. However, he might let you know they're moving out of state for a new job or building a home or downsizing, which could help you decide what to offer and when to close.

What appliances and features are being sold with the house? 
Most of the time, major appliances, such as stoves, refrigerators, washers and dryers come with the house. But they don't always. And if you don't already own these items, you might want to factor the purchase price into your offer. Likewise, if there are features you admire – like a shoe carousel in the closet – that don't come with the house, you can add them to your offer.

Does the property have special ownership costs? 
In condo complexes and some gated communities, owners are assessed Home Owners Association fees on a monthly or yearly basis. While those fees might not deter your interest in the property, it's best to know the fees up front so you can write an informed offer.

How does it compare with the other homes in the neighborhood? 
This question encompasses whether the home will be appraised at the asking price and whether it matches up with the comparables in the neighborhood, plus whether it's in the same general condition as the other homes. Don't just trust the listing agent for this, though. Get your buyer's agent to pull recent comps and check pending sales to help you set your offer price.

Can I have a disclosure statement? 
A disclosure statement lists issues on the property that the seller knows about. Perhaps these are things that came up in his home inspection – such as asbestos in the heating system or lead paint on the walls. It also tells how old the property is and how long the seller has lived there, plus environmental and structural information the seller knows.
Rebecca Novak

Rebecca Novak

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