If you're in the market for a house, going to an open house, where you can walk in and see the interior of a house for sale without making an appointment with the seller's agent, is likely one of the tasks on your home-buying to-do list. It's easy to attend an open house, but you should go with some rules in mind that will help you evaluate the house with more ease. These four things, especially, can help you determine quickly whether the house is one you want to consider.
The Seller Might Not Be There
It's very common for the seller and all family members to get out of the house during the open-house session. While that helps the seller's agent avoid awkward questions about neighborhood issues and quirks with the house, that also deprives you of the chance to find out that information for your own use. If you attend an open house and like what you see, plan to drive back around the neighborhood at different times over the next few days to get an idea of what the area is really like. An open house on Saturday morning is not going to let you know what the area is like on Saturday night, for example; a noisy neighborhood could seem a lot quieter early in the morning.
The Appliances Might Not Be Included
It's no secret that a lot of homes for sale are staged or have furniture and decorations added to make the place look a lot better. That can include appliances, so always go into open houses assuming you're going to have to provide everything yourself if you buy the house. If it turns out that some of the appliances come with the house, you can treat that as a pleasant surprise.
You're Looking at More Than Just the House
Obviously you want to see whether the layout of the house looks nice, where it is, and so on. But you also want to see if the surrounding landscaping is sloped away from the home (improper slopes can lead to flooding problems in the building), if any of the surrounding land looks unstable, if there are shallow-rooted trees above the house in hilly neighborhoods, and so on. For example, if you're buying a home that's on a hill in an area known for strong winds, having shallow-rooted and fragile-branched trees like eucalyptus -- in other words, trees that can fall over or drop branches easily -- on the slope next to your home can be a dangerous problem.
Other Buyers Are Walking Billboards
If other people are at the open house, watch the general reactions from everyone as they walk around. If you see many of the other people with unhappy looks, like maybe the house isn't what they expected, it could be that the price is a lot higher than it should be. Agents try to steer sellers toward prices that are typical for the market, but sometimes sellers want to go a lot higher. You can see whether that's the case by seeing if others don't look so impressed.
If you have other questions about open houses and what to look for, talk to a real estate agent who is keeping an eye on housing stock in the area you want to look in. That agent may also have a good idea of what the neighborhood is really like, which will help if the sellers aren't at the open house.