When you go to your next open house, ask the listing agent these key questions to help you make an informed decision. When a property is hot, a public open house may be your best opportunity for due diligence before submitting an offer. While the hosting agent may not be able to answer all of your questions, there is a lot you can learn.
1. How long has it been on the market? You may already have this information, as it is usually readily available. However, if you’re getting your information from a real estate portal, it may not be accurate. Also, there are times when a listing is removed and relisted to help it appear “fresh” to the market. The true “days on market” is a good indication of how the market is responding.
2. Have there been any price changes? Price adjustments will give you clues about the seller’s level of motivation. Sometimes, sellers make the mistake of overpricing their home and a quick correction in price shows that they are serious about selling. A house that languishes on the market for a long time before reducing by an insignificant amount tells you that the seller is either not negotiable, or not motivated to sell.
3. Have there been any offers? Since you are attending an open house, one might assume that the seller hasn’t had any bites… that’s not always the case. Sometimes, the seller has received an offer and still wants to hold the open house just to see if any other offers come in that might be higher (or can be used as back-up). You may even be surprised to learn that a seller has rejected offers.
4. Do you have a copy of the Sellers Disclosure? Most of the time, the agent will either have a copy on hand or can send it to you and your agent. The disclosure covers many details about the home and the seller explains what he/she knows about the home. If there have been renovations, the specifics will be listed. If there has been a problem with the house, some details should be given.
5. What is the seller’s timeline? This is another question that can reveal much about the seller’s motivation. If a quick closing is desired, this could mean the seller is already committed to buy somewhere else and will want to unload the house as soon as possible. When you go into an open house and it’s vacant, the listing agent might be willing to share some details about why. It could be an estate, a divorce, an investment property, a foreclosure, or the seller may have already bought elsewhere and moved out.
These questions will help arm you with enough information to make an appropriate offer if it’s the right house. Talk to your real estate agent about all of it in context with the current market. Your agent can best guide you and gather any additional information necessary.