Even in the digital age with today’s tech savvy buyers and apps everywhere you turn, the good old-fashioned open house still provides great value to both home sellers and buyers. They’ve been around forever and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.

But are you effectively using open houses in your home search?

Here are 5 valuable strategies to consider:

• Use Smart Map Searches to Plan Multiple Stops

The most popular time for an open house in the Michiana market is on Sunday afternoon from 2-4pm. So if you get a jump on the crowds and arrive early, chances are you’ll have plenty of time to check out a few other homes while they’re open. Smart map searches like you’ll find on our site allow you to search active listings while filtering for just open houses and simultaneously mapping their locations. If there a couple more just a few minutes from your top choices, you’ll easily be able to locate them and add them to your afternoon – even if they’re not quite what you’re looking for. Why is that important?

• Open Houses Are Great for Mastering the Market

An open house can be a great way to see homes that aren’t serious contenders without unnecessarily inconveniencing their sellers, or to start seeing houses before you’re ready to buy. And the more homes you see, the savvier you will become. While tools like automated searches can be great for getting a read on pricing or how long homes tend to remain on market in your preferred neighborhood, there is no substitute for seeing it yourself. Good agents will showcase a home’s strengths in the online listing while downplaying its weaknesses. A home that may seem like a bargain might feel overpriced once you walk through and see its choppy layout and small bedrooms in person. And if you’ve got a read on the market, when a bargain comes along you’ll be able to recognize it before someone else does.

• Ask the Seller’s Agent Questions

So your relationship with a perspective home has got hot and heavy. But once you’ve written an offer, almost all of your communication will take place through your buyers’ agent. Having a face to face conversation with the listing agent can be a great opportunity to find out about the level of interest and activity a home has generated so far. How quickly (or slowly) is the seller willing to close? Would they entertain an offer contingent to the sale of a home that you may currently have listed? Are those countertops quartz or granite? The listing agent knows. So ask them!

• You Just Might Meet Your Future Agent

If you are early in the home buying process an open house can provide a great opportunity to scout your potential prospects. So don’t be afraid to ask questions. How long they have been an agent? Do they work as part of a larger team? (Teams often mean resources – and that’s good for you as a buyer) How many clients are they currently working with? What areas do they service? The Michiana market is chopped up into three different MLS associations (IRMLS, GNIAR, and SWMAR) and if your search crosses into more than one of their respective areas, it is important that you work with an agent who has access to the relevant databases, can show homes in areas you are considering, and holds the appropriate licenses.

• Don’t Be Afraid to Express Your Interest

So you’re a serious buyer and are thinking that you may have just found your dream home? Introduce yourself to the listing agent! Let them know who your buyer’s agent is and whether you plan on submitting an offer. If someone else offers on the home before you do, it can come in handy. They may delay considering it until they see yours, or they may call your agent as a courtesy to let them know the deadline for submission of any competing offers. And when it comes time for the seller to consider your offer, the ability of the listing agent to put a face to a name may add helpful context.

Did we miss anything you think is a winning strategy? Let us know in the comments below!

About the author

Steve Smith
Steve is managing broker of Irish Realty and lead salesperson of The Steve Smith Team. Practicing real estate since 2005, he has represented clients in over 1,000 transactions totaling over $170M in career sales. An avid Pokémon Go aficionado, Steve and his wife Vanessa have three children named after his favorite Pokémon (not really). You can follow Steve across social media and on Facebook.

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