Tips for visiting an Open House

November 29, 2011

There’s a lot of information out there for sellers staging an Open House, but surprisingly few guidelines for the people who come to view them. For some, an Open House viewing may simply be an impulse activity to satisfy their curiosity about a neighbour’s home. However, for serious buyers, especially First Time Buyers who have limited experience in seeing different home styles and layouts, visiting Open Houses can be a very worthwhile exercise.

To plan an effective Open House tour, you should start with a map. Plot out the addresses of where the Open Houses are located, and the times of showings to ensure that you make the most productive use of your time.

Look at your map, and see where major transportation links are located, as well as parks, schools, shopping and amenities. If everything you see on the map looks good, then start out with a driving tour of the neighbourhood itself, before you devote some time to viewing individual houses.

If you plan on visiting an Open House, and you’re already working with a real estate salesperson, be sure to notify them in advance. Your sales representative can be a very valuable source of information about the neighbourhood, and may possibly even be familiar with the individual property. Also, depending on the rules of your local real estate board, visiting an Open House without your agent present may result in conferring certain rights on the salesperson who is showing the property. If you discuss this with your salesperson before your visit, you’re ensured of having the right person to look after your interests when it’s time to make an offer. Of course, if you aren’t yet working with a sales representative, Open Houses can provide a great opportunity to not only look for the right house but the right salesperson. What better way to see them in action, and find out quickly if you communicate on the same wavelength?

As you tour an Open House, try to see past the furnishings, and any personal clutter, and focus on whether the space and layout work for your needs. Don’t assume that what you see is what you get! Many things you see at the viewing, such as window treatments, light fixtures, appliances and even that hot tub on the back deck may not be included in the list price. Check details on the feature sheet and verify what’s included with the agent hosting the Open House.

When touring an Open House, be direct and ask questions. Remember, this is no time to be diplomatic. The real estate professional showing the home realizes that it may not be right for everyone. By keeping your comments open and direct, you help the sales representative to better understand your needs and offer solutions to meet them.