Top Five Tips for Attending an Open House

I try very hard to be at as many open houses with my clients as possible.  But sometimes, it's not possible - after all, there's only one of me!  In that case, you'll be at the open house with the seller's agent - and they are not there to help you!  Here are some tips to make sure you keep your options open. 


Tip #1 - Remember your Game Face

When I'm running open houses, I am often shocked at the number of people who come to me and say, "I really like this house!" or "We've been looking a long time, and this is what we're looking for!".  Statements like these which seem like harmless small talk, are not.  They tell an experience agent that you might be writing an offer - and your motivation is high.  If I know you're likely to commit to the house, I'm probably going to tell my seller to hold out for more, and you'll probably pay more.  In a similar vein, if a sellers agent gets enough positive feedback, they're much more likely to go out and look for multiple offers.  The best thing to do is be non-committal, and try to be unnoticed.

Tip #2 - Don't Trash The House

I'm equally amazed at the number of people who are willing to say things that are not nice.  "It's way overpriced". "I hate the kitchen".  "Who would want to live here?"  There's a school of thought that by pointing out all of a homes flaws (which the agent likely already knows!) is that you'll help yourself later when you put an offer in.  This is not true.  Many seller agents are easily offended - and they'll remember you.  Instead of encouraging their seller to come down in price, they are more likely to make you pay more - because they don't like and trust you.  Again, the best thing to do is be non-committal, and try to be unnoticed.

Tip #3 - Don't Get Lulled by the Furniture

You aren't buying the furniture, so try not to look at it.  Properly staged and prepared homes sell for more because they look nicer, but that advantage is temporary.  Buying a house is about floorplan, location, lot, and the cosmetics that stay put.  This also works if the furniture and styling is not to your liking!  These things go - and unpopular furniture choices can sometimes obscure a hidden gem.

Tip #4 - Check the Infrastructure

Always check the roof for obvious sign of distress, the burner and A/C for age, and the windows for possible replacement.  Most people with catch the kitchens and baths, but miss the infrastructure, and it costs just as much to replace. 

Tip #5 - Sign In Your Agent

When asked to sign in, do so - but sign in your agent.  This is good practice and accepted industry standard.  If you leave your information, the agent may call you direct and ask for offers or feedback - and if they call you then your agent can't tell what the story is.  Most agents have a lot of experience handling competitive bids and situations where you need to move fast - so you want them on the other end of the phone.  As buyer agents, we're much more likely to understand the actors we're dealing with on the other side, and this can help you put your offer in the best light - or know when to hold out to pay less.  If you don't have an agent yet, you should get one!  Most seller agents are very friendly, but don't be confused - the job of a seller's agent is to make the buyer pay as much as possible!