Open House Etiquette
Things to Do
Get The Scoop
Ask the open house agent plenty of questions about the condition of the property, house features, neighborhood, nearby retail, transportation, etc. You could try to get a glimpse into the sellers’ motivation for selling, but good agents will wont disclose this information if the seller requests that it be kept confidential so they don’t jeopardize their negotiating position.
Assess The Sellers and Their Home Maintenance
Check out the overall presentation. Did they make the house look perfect (sparkling clean, tidy)? If they wouldn’t spend the time and effort to do this, highlights the question of how serious they are about selling and/or how well they take care of the property.
Try to find out the installation/upgrade dates for the major systems (water heater, HVAC, sump pump) as well as the appliances. If there is a basement, check for a radon mitigation system. Look for signs of water erosion around the yard and driveway. Do all the downspouts have extensions carrying water away from the foundation? Is there a sump pump and/or french drain?
Is This The House for You?
How much storage is available? Would it be enough for your present and future needs? Don’t forget to assess the kitchen counter space. Can you fit your coffee maker, toaster, etc.? Most sellers will clear out the counters to make them look bigger, but this makes it harder to visualize how much useful space there is.
Will your furniture will fit? Some might consider it an overkill, but bringing a tape measure is a great idea. Be open to replacing your very large dining room cabinet if it doesn’t fit in the house. Don’t walk away from an amazing house because one piece of furniture can’t make the move!
Things to Avoid
Keep it confidential
Be very careful what you divulge to the open house agent. Legally, they represent the sellers. So if you accidentally mention you need to move in 30 days because your lease is up or how long you’ve been looking for a house just like this, the agent is contractually obligated to pass this along to the sellers.
There are neutral and unsuspecting ways to get information out of you. They could ask questions like: what’s your current situation like? or how is your search going? Before you know it, you could be telling them things you really shouldn’t.
Keep in mind that some sellers may utilize baby cams and other surreptitious methods to sneak up on potential buyers. The legality of these can be a gray area, but something to keep in mind when discussing the house.
Homes North of Boston Team