In this special section to Boston.com, we consulted a wide array of experts from various sectors of the real estate market for their advice on making the homebuying and selling process go as smoothly as possible. In this edition, Debi Benoit of Benoit Mizner Simon & Co. shares her advice for buyers attending open houses.
Open Houses are wonderful vehicles for potential buyers to do their research, hone in on communities and neighborhoods that fit their needs and ideally, even find their dream house. Knowing what to expect and what is expected will make those Sunday afternoons more productive and entertaining. Here are five tips to help you navigate and make the most of the open house.
1. Don’t be afraid of the real estate agent or the sign-in sheet – The host of the open house may or may not be the listing broker. Regardless, you should not hesitate to sign the register and give at least one means of communication. Sellers deserve to know who is touring their house. If you are working with a broker, list the broker’s name next to yours and communicate that to the broker. Feel free to ask all the questions you have of the host broker, whether there have been any offers, the benefits of the local school, neighborhood etc. If you aren’t working with anyone yet, this is your chance to try this one on. If he or she is attentive, well-informed, knowledgeable about the local inventory, and offers you information that will help you make the informed decision, you may have found the perfect agent to help you with your search.
2. Make yourself at home but remember your manners – I like to think of an open house as a party I throw every Sunday! Feel free to take your time and look all around at your leisure. It’s okay to open closets, kitchen cabinets etc. You need to know if this house will fit your needs. If you’re thinking of expansion or renovation, don’t hesitate asking the broker for his/her opinion. Chances are the broker has been involved in many a project and may have good ideas to share. Keep your comments positive. You cannot be sure friends or neighbors are not within earshot and you should let other buyers form their own opinions. Remember, you are a welcome guest in the house so you should be mindful of your manners.
3. The “Poker Face” rule—I have to admit I love an enthusiastic buyer, but I always advise buyers to restrain their emotions. The broker does work for the seller so you don’t want to give too much information that might compromise your position.
4. Focus on the property – Brokers will usually have handouts with property descriptions, floor plans, square footage, and special features. If you’re seeing a lot of properties in a day, take notes, ask the pertinent questions, even take a photo or two (with the agent’s permission) to help you keep them all straight. Make each visit productive. If the broker does not have the information you need to either yeah or nay it, ask them to send it to you.
5. Size up your competition – In an extremely competitive market, there will be times that you will be elbow to elbow with the competing offer on that property. Often, offers are accepted immediately following the open house. A smart buyer listens to the remarks made around him. You may very well learn something that will help you craft your offer.
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