Even the most ardent home buyers took a break this summer from their searches but now with the season coming to an end soon, many house hunters will be back to visiting Open Houses again in full force. If you want to make the most of your search, check out my “Top 5 Tips for Visiting Open Houses.”
- Get a Good Night’s Sleep. It may seem like an easy task to visit Open Houses but once you’ve explored half a dozen homes and navigated all the crowds, you’ll find yourself wishing you had had a better night’s sleep the day before. Being well rested will help you stay focused and not running out of steam too soon in the day.
- Wear “Double Duty” Shoes. I tell my home buyers to make sure to wear the proper shoes when attending Open Houses. They should both be comfortable AND easy to take on and off. Comfy shoes make sense since you’ll be doing a lot of walking and climbing but many homeowners ask that you take your shoes off before entering. Wearing slip-off shoes saves time when you want to hit a lot of homes in the same day.
- Look Beyond the Four Walls. Keep in mind that you’re not only at the Open House to check out the specific home but you also want to get a good sense of the neighborhood. Are the other yards well-maintained? Is there a market close by? How far is the nearest bus stop? Where would I go for coffee? How easy is it to get to a major highway? If you see one of the local residents outside tending their garden, introduce yourself and ask them some of these questions. This is a great way to meet one of your potential neighbors as well.
- Be Prepared to Act Fast. Have all your paperwork ready in case you want to make an offer quickly. In a hot market where properties aren’t for sale very long, it’s best to be able to act fast when you need to. Be pre-approved for a loan. Have your checkbook handy. Know how much you can comfortably afford. Have a real estate attorney and home inspector on speed dial. The savvy buyer must be prepared to act fast when the occasion calls for it.
- Get a Sense of the Homeowners. Sometimes it makes sense to include a personal letter along with your offer. That extra effort will definitely help you stand out from the competition. With that in mind, see if you can glean a bit about the sellers during the Open House. A lot of cookbooks? They enjoy time in their kitchen. Beautiful garden? They enjoy tending their yard. Everything’s clean and tidy? They’re proud of their home. Being able to customize your letter to the sellers will make a good impression when the time comes.
As a home buyer in a seller’s market, it’s often the small details that not only make searching easier but also gives you a leg up when there are multiple offers. Buying your home is a major endeavor and it’s best to be as well-prepared as possible. In the end, you want to look back on this process and know that you came to your decision to buy a home in a thoughtful and organized manner.