I would recommend determining how much house you can afford before visiting an open house. It’s tough when you find that perfect home and then discover you can’t afford it. Read my blog post on Mortgage Tips.
Even better – contact a trusted Realtor to help with your hunt so you know what’s out there and understand the competition – best to be well-informed and prepared before touring available properties!
Touring open houses provides valuable insight as to what is on the market and builds your confidence and knowledge. It helps to narrow down what is important to you as a buyer.
OPEN HOUSE ETIQUETTE
- Sellers don’t appreciate early birds, and hosts like time to prepare.
- Don’t arrive right before the open house ends.
- Remove your shoes.
- Introduce yourself.
- If you’d like to take photos, be sure to ask permission from host first.
- Don’t bring pets. If you choose to bring your children, be sure to keep a close eye on them and don’t sit on furniture or touch homeowner’s belongings.
- Take time to read any material or forms left by the host (could be important!).
- Avoid using the bathroom.
- Enjoy the tour! You can gather lots of valuable info.
KNOW THE RISKS
Real estate professionals have a regulatory requirement to present you with consumer information before you disclose any information about your situation as a buyer. There are specific forms that explain the risks of being an unrepresented party, and what it means to be represented by a Realtor.
If you enter an open house you must be cautious how much information you share. Likely, the host is representing the seller, and has a duty of confidentiality and disclosure to their client. They are bound by this duty, and anything you share can also be shared with that seller.
If you are working with a Realtor, they can advise you and let you know how to best navigate open houses.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY
You must be careful what you say to the host and to whomever you are with in case you are overheard. If you were to make an offer on the property, what was said at the open house may be taken into account during price negotiations. For example, if you were to say that the house was perfect for you and your family or that it was your “dream house”, the host might recall that and advise the seller that you may be eager to purchase – not a good place to be for negotiations.
Be sure to take good notes! You’d be surprised what you forget after looking at a few homes. Have a list of general questions prepared and ask the host (remembering that they may represent the seller). Take rough measurements of rooms if that is important. Drive around the neighbourhood and note positives and negatives:
- School locations
- Check out the neighbours!
- Shopping and amenities
- Look for signs of construction or road work
- Zoning – what is nearby? Commercial, industrial, residential?
AFTER THE OPEN HOUSE
If you did love the property and are interested in making an offer, let your Realtor know right away. Open houses generate excitement and interest and there may be offers submitted immediately.
Good luck in your hunt!