An open house is an opportunity to leisurely tour a home, taking in everything from the amenities to the neighborhood. That’s why it is important to take advantage of the attentiveness of the agent on-site to ask some pointed questions, especially if this house could be “the one.” Consider five critical questions to ask the next time you are spending a Sunday afternoon checking out open houses in your area:
#1. Why is the home on the market?
A fair question, right? The house is lovely, has amenities aplenty, a fantastic location and a more than fair asking price. It’s all too perfect, what gives- surely zombies must be crawling the stairs from the basement each night, right? If the agent answers this simple question with things like: life changes, downsizing, upsizing, job, new baby, financial reasons, there’s likely no cause for concern. But don’t simply take the listing agent’s word for it, read their whole response, including their body language. A stumble in their answer may indicate something more serious precedes the move, like a drop in property values or a recent uptick in crime.
#2. Are there any major issues with the home?
From an ethical standpoint (and a legal one) the listing agent should tell you about anything that may prevent the home from being up to code or unsafe. Is the garage unsecured garage and vulnerable to break-ins, is the addition unpermitted? Is the foundation cracking? Make sure you know before falling in love and writing your offer.
#3. What renovations have been made and when?
This question is a matter of personal preference; some prospective buyers will care if there have been renovations and some prefer that the home is in original condition. What you want to know are things such as, whether the area that is now the den was once the garage? If so, this room may lack energy efficiency, or present foundational issues down the road. It’s not a bad thing to be in a home that has been renovated, but like a person’s medical history, it’s best to know as much as possible going in.
#4. Is there any history of water damage?
Take stock of the prospective home’s setting – and then ask the right questions. If the home sits atop a hill (however small it may be), you can most likely be assured that water drains away from the home. However, if it sits at the bottom of hill rainwater will likely collect along a particular side of the home. If the home is situated at the bottom of the hill, you should be asking the listing agent about leaks in the basement.
#5. Are there any active offers on the home?
Finding out there is another offer already on the table after touring a home makes many prospective buyers feel duped. But in fact, an offer is just a step in a very long process. A lot can happen between an offer and closing. One offer doesn’t stop the whole show – until that contract has been signed and keys handed over, the listing agent keeps moving forward with other potential buyers.