The “open house” is a staple of the real estate business. It’s one of the only times when homebuyers visit real estate agents. Every weekend in every city in Canada (except maybe Christmas) there are several open houses. Potential home buyers have lots of opportunity to get an idea of what’s on the market, prices and neighborhoods. Open houses are a great opportunity for home buyers to glean some great information about real estate. However, many would rather not have to speak with the agent on duty and that is a shame. They are afraid of being sold a house maybe. That would be tough.
What should you do at an open house?
First focus on what you might want to buy.
Visit open houses in neighborhoods where you think you might want to live. Visit open houses that fall within the price range you’d like to spend. I advise all of my clients that the first step of shopping for a new home is to visit their lender and get pre-approved for a mortgage. That way you won’t be looking at homes you can’t afford or perhaps conversely you won’t be looking at homes not as good as you can afford. Often you truly are “richer than you think”.
Pay attention to other buyers at the open house.
There is a learning curve to buying real estate and chances are the other open house visitors have learned things and would love to share what they’ve learned. Maybe they have an agent. Engage them if you can in conversation. “What do you think of this one?”, “Do you think the price is right?”, “How’s the school in this neighborhood?” First time home buyers should take their parents, their agent or someone who has already bought a house with them when they visit open houses.
Talk to the Realtor
Although the Realtor is working for the seller, he will answer all of your questions about what’s going on in the market, about the neighborhood, and of course about the house. When you are visiting open houses, you should also be interviewing agents because sooner or later you will be needing one when you find the house you want to buy. Or you’ll be needing one to help you find the house you want to buy. Most agents like to work with buyers helping them find their dream home. Alasdair and I have a great home buyer’s program, one of the best in the business that doesn’t cost you a penny, ever.
Find out what’s really happening in the market
If you read the newspaper and watch the TV news, it seems that you’re always getting “gloom and doom” news that the market is going to crash, that interest rates are sure to go up and that it’s better to rent than to buy. For the past two years, I’ve been waiting for the impending doom (and some free time) but it’s failed to materialize. Ask the Realtor about the your local real estate market. Find out the “average days on market” and the “absorption rate”. Find out about what price ranges, neighbourhoods and styles of houses are moving well and which, if any are not. We have wonderful statistics collected through the Kitchener Waterloo Association of Realtors and most agents are always watching the stats trying to figure out the trends and where the market is going.
About Alasdair and Keith and open houses
We do about 70 open houses a year. It’s great exposure for the house and it’s good exposure for us the Seller’s agent. We invite the neighbors to visit as they are great sources of information about the neighborhood (and sometimes the house).
Our Buyer’s Program
Our Buyer’s Program isn’t limited to First Time Home Buyers. It doesn’t cost anything to join and you don’t have to sign a Buyer’s Representation Agreement. Call or email for more information or visit us at our next open house.