While not necessarily a requirement when you’re on the hunt for a new home, attending open houses can give you the opportunity to scope out properties that are available on the market. Many buyers have ended up finding their dream home by attending an open house.
Open houses provide buyers with a great opportunity to do some research on what’s out there. Every open house you visit will leave you walking away with your own opinions and thoughts on the features of the home that you may like versus those that didn’t exactly tickle your fancy.
It’s important for buyers to use open houses to their advantage, because there are a few things you can learn from attending them, including the following.
How Much You Can Afford
Many buyers – especially first-timers – are completely unaware of how much homes actually cost. They may have a picture in their minds of the type of home they may want, but they may not be aware of the amount of money that may be required to purchase such a property. Unfortunately, many buyers end up finding out the hard way that they’re not able to afford the type of home that they had in their minds and wind up disappointed.
Visiting open houses gives buyers a chance to find out what they are realistically able to buy within their price range. While it’s always easy to peruse listings online to see how much they go for, browsing online is just the first step in the house hunting process. It’s not uncommon for homes to look much different in person than what they appear to be like on the internet.
What the Competition is Like
You’re likely not the only buyer out there looking for a home to purchase. There are probably many other buyers just like you who are looking for a new home. And depending on the type of market you’re in, you may find more competition than you may have initially anticipated.
By attending an open house, you’ll be able to gauge what the competition is currently like. The type of traffic that sellers are able to attract can give buyers some measurement of whether or not an offer will have to be put in quickly, whether or not a bidding war is likely, and if the listing price is accurate.
The number of people attending the open house can be an indication of how quickly you may want to put in an offer on it if that’s what your goal is. If the traffic is heavy and there’s a buzz about offers, you might not have much time to play with. But if there are only a few people checking out the home, time might be on your side.
What the Neighborhood is Like
If you’re not familiar with the area that listed homes are located in, attending open houses will give you the chance to get a feel for them. After all, you’re not just buying the actual structure, but you’re buying the location as well. And the location is typically the most important factor in real estate.
You can get a sense of what the neighbors are like, how easy it is to get to and from major roadways, the types of amenities that are in close proximity, and so forth.
What Your True Needs Are
First-time homebuyers might not necessarily know exactly how many bedrooms or bathrooms they want, how large they need the yard to be, or whether a finished basement is really necessary. By attending an open house, they can get a real-life example of what life could be like in the type of home they’re visiting. Open houses can help buyers learn more about the type of amenities, features, and layouts that they prefer.
They may actually find that a townhouse might be something they prefer, or that a bungalow is better than a two-story for them, for instance. Many times buyers won’t know what they want until they’ve had a chance to visit a handful of open houses.
The Type of Home You Can Get in Different Neighborhoods
Every market is different. The market you may see in the downtown core might differ from what might be happening in the suburbs or in another city. By attending open houses in different neighborhoods, you’ll be able to to make market comparisons. The same house that you might see in one area might have a very different price than a similar property in another area.
Seeing other properties can help give you a better idea of whether or not you’re getting a fair price, or if you have any wiggle room to negotiate a lower price. Attending open houses nearby can give you a baseline to compare to when putting in an offer on a home.
The Bottom Line
Open houses don’t just provide buyers with a convenient way to check out what’s available for sale; they also provide certain opportunities to help you learn a thing or two. What you can discover just by attending a handful of open houses can put you in a better position to start seriously looking for a home to buy, get familiar with the neighborhood you want to be in, and even give you some potential negotiating power when it’s time to wheel and deal. They’re definitely worth a visit.