What Should I Look for in an Open House?

The exit!

Of course, I’m kidding (kind of…more on that later).

Buying a house is a big deal. Even deciding whether to buy is serious, let alone where, when, and which one. If you’re just starting to research buying, then this blog is for YOU.

We’re going to give you TEN things you’ll want to look for (or look OUT for) in an open house, but first, here’s an important footnote1.

ENJOY Your Market Research Phase

Should I buy?

When?

What?

If you’re thinking about maybe buying, then we encourage you to spend lots of time and energy on these big questions as part of your market research phase. This phase, right at the beginning of your process, is a crucial one which is easily overlooked.

Whether you are a first-time buyer or an experienced one, the more resources you can gather and commit to market research, the more confident you will be with the answers that you find and the more secure you will be in the decisions you make.

Here are some activities that can really help at this early stage:

  • Selecting your mortgage specialist & working towards a pre-approval
  • Sorting out any credit issues
  • Getting financial advice from a financial advisor
  • Saving the down payment
  • Discussing the idea with family
  • Interviewing and hiring a buyer’s agent (REALTOR®)
  • Some light research on MLS®, Facebook, YouTube
  • Reading blogs to learn about the market and the process of buying
  • Visiting open houses from time to time (optional)

It’s a good idea to take your time to enjoy this phase so you are ready to move forward without stress when you begin actively searching. 🙂

Open Houses – What to Look For (and What to Look OUT For)

If you decide to check out open houses, there are a few things to look for and to look out for:

  1. Look OUT for falling in love. If you’re in your market research phase, and you ever enter an open house, it’s best to go in without the intention of falling in love with it. Our definition of market research phase is the phase someone is in before they are ready to buy. Buying is (and should be) exciting! However, especially if it’s your first time, it’s easy to fall in love before you are ready. You might end up with heartbreak when the home sells if, for example, you’re still saving your down payment.
  2. Look OUT for your confidential info. Be careful with your confidential information. The agent holding the open house represents the seller of the home, and their job is to sell the home. You are just a stranger at this point, and they don’t owe you any fiduciary duties. Feel free to keep your cards close to your chest because you own your confidential info (name, pre-approval, relationship status, wants/needs).
  3. Look OUT for your dodgy poker face. Don’t tell or show the agent that you like the home. Later in the process, you may choose to write an offer on this property, so it will be advantageous for them to not know that you love the home. If an emotional connection to the home exists, then it’s good to keep it secret.
  4. Look for general themes of homes you like. Don’t look too closely. This is related to #1. If you are in your market research phase, it’s good to just get the “feel” for neighborhood types, housing types and styles, etc. In my opinion, this is the benefit of open houses, especially if you’re new(ish) to Fort Mac and you don’t know the geography or housing stock at all.
  5. Look OUT for wasting your time. If you are working with a real estate agent (you have hired them to represent you), it’s good to be clear about that the moment you enter the open house. We advise our buyer clients to bring out business card with them to remind them. Part of the reason agents hold open houses is because it’s a way of getting face-to-face with potential buyer clients. If you tell them you are already committed, they can show you the home and let you get going, saving you both time. That’s why I joked at the start about looking for the exits!
  6. Look for more information. If you want to know more about the homes you visit, you can ask the listing agent, or you can call us and we’ll have the same discussion with them, without giving up any of your confidential information.
  7. Look OUT for confidential info (again). Sometimes, you might nip into an open house while you are in your active search phase (after the market research phase). If this is the case, then be especially mindful of your confidential information.
  8. Look for quality & upkeep. Again if actually searching, feel free to look at the property in a very detailed way. Take a checklist with you, and a list of questions (or better, an A-Team buyer’s agent). Know, though, that a private “second showing” and a home inspection are the best forums in which to become incredibly well acquainted with homes before the SOLD sign goes up.
  9. Look for amazing REALTORS® you click with. Our listing agents run open houses at various times depending on a lot of factors. If they do, feel free to completely grill them. They will educate you on the buying process and set you up with a world-class buyer’s agent who can help you.
  10. Look for the exit! Ultimately, open houses are designed to sell homes and attract buyer clients to real estate brokerages. We often sell homes in them, and buyers of those homes become very happy, but as a team of 21st-century professionals, ultimately, we believe in buyer representation. We know that the best service always starts with the Buyer Consultation with an A-Team buyer’s agent at our RE/MAX® Fort McMurray office.

To be quite clear, we don’t think open houses should be a critical part of a most people’s buying strategies. In fact, it seems that the people who enjoy open houses the most are the people who are furthest from actually buying.

Buying a home should be an incredibly exciting process which is why…

Instead, we endorse planning and executing a systematic search that leaves no stone unturned. Hopefully the ten points we have selected above help show you that we care deeply about protecting you. That way, the magic of your home-buying experience can last forever!

Resources From Us to You

We’d love to help you in the following ways (all without commitment from you):

  • ATeamYMM.ca ➡ Free MLS® search without ever being hassled
  • A-Team Blog ➡ Search our growing resource of blogs, for free.
  • Our Buyer Consultation (where it all starts)
  • Referring you to a talented mortgage specialist
  • Referring you to a financial advisor who cares

Hopefully, you found this a useful read! If you have questions or comments, please feel free to post them in the comments below or on social media. 🙂

Footnotes

  1. This article is not designed to solicit clients of competing real estate brokerages. If you have a REALTOR®, they are the professional to go to for advice about open houses & your search, and specific properties.

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