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Attend Open Homes to Get a Feel for What You Want – and Don’t Want

By Emma Wilson

You’ve outgrown the house you’re in and find out you qualify for a mortgage that will let you upsize. Or, your kids have flown the nest and you’re ready to sell the family home and downsize – or, you may be a first home buyer and need help deciding what you want. Whatever the reason for purchasing a home, it’s important that you get a feel for what you want so you don’t spin your wheels and waste time – or end up with something you didn’t really want.

Open homes provide a taste of what your lifestyle would be if you decide to buy something similar. Unless the seller still lives in the house the real estate agent will often stage the homes with furniture and design touches to help you visualise living there.

Attending open homes provides information that will be useful to you when you make a final decision. You’ll get to explore other neighborhoods, check out schools or amenities you’re interested in, and explore the various floor plans available.

If you’re in the market for a fixer upper, you’ll want to visit foreclosed or short sale home listings. Be aware that these homes usually need investments in remodeling, fixing existing problems, or replacing appliances. If you have the time, energy, and money to invest in a fixer upper, it can be a great investment.

The purpose of an open home is to let people see what’s available in a particular neighborhood and entertain the idea of purchasing. But, even though you may not be looking for a home at this particular time, agents welcome those who are just looking.

Always remain loyal to your own agent. When you attend an open home and sign in, indicate that you already have an agent you’re working with. The agent at the open home will appreciate knowing that information and won’t attempt to solicit you to become his or her client.

You should know the etiquette of attending open homes before you begin your search. For example, you should always sign in and indicate whether you’re already working with an agent or not. When arriving at the open home, feel free to enter without ringing the doorbell or knocking, but always try to meet the agent. Some will take you through the house and show you special features while others will simply let you pick up a flyer and let you see the home on a self guided tour.

If someone is still living in the home, respect their belongings. It’s not okay to open medicine cabinets and closets and rifle through their things. Always ask the agent if it’s alright to look inside a closed door.

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