The old adage that goes don’t judge a book by its cover can’t be far from the truth when it comes to the real estate industry. Outside looks are often deceptive and that’s why you can’t afford to make snap judgments in an open house.
It’s always easy for your eyes to be attracted by manicured lawns, stylish furnishings, and a spotless interior. But there’s more than that in a home.
How then can you distinguish genuine sellers from pretenders who are out to swindle your money?
Below are 5 things to ask at an open house:
- Why is the house being sold?
When everything looks perfect in a home – a well-manicured yard, beautiful interior, serene neighborhood – one may wonder why the owner is selling such a home.
It is important to find out the reason why the property is being sold, particularly if the price is lower compared to what you are seeing.
There are various reasons why someone may sell a home. For example, they may have received a job transfer that requires them to relocate or the home has become too small for an expanding family. Another reason could be probably the neighborhood may have become a nuisance.
Asking the reason why the house is being sold may reveal important information that you wouldn’t otherwise have known.
- Is there a limited period to sell the house?
The more urgent a seller tends to be, the more you are at an advantaged position. If a seller is strict with the deadlines, then he or she will be more flexible in terms of price. This means you can easily negotiate.
Besides, you may also notice that the house was being sold below the market price. When a seller is determined to sell a home quickly, he or she will list below other competitors to get offers much faster.
Try to find out what price homes in the neighborhood are being sold for. Who knows, you might find a reason to bargain. Sellers who are not in a hurry tend to be more rigid when it comes to negotiating down their prices.
- Has anyone else made offers on the home?
After finding out the selling timeframe, it would also be good to understand whom you are competing with.
In case the deadline is close and there are several offers on the table, you will have to put forward a strong offer to increase your chances. But if the deadline is close and there are no other offers, you can take your time and rethink your initial offer.
Knowing if there are any other bids on the home doesn’t necessarily mean you bid above everyone else. It can give you an opportunity to understand the negotiation process.
- Have the prices of the home changed since it was listed?
It is also good to know about this as well as how long the house has been on offer. It is easy to get this kind of information especially if you are a real estate agent or able to access the Multiple Listing Service.
If you learn that the price of a home dropped, then you can have an upper hand during the negotiation process. Such information can also give you a reason to reconsider the offer and make an about-turn all together.
- Ask if you can see a seller’s disclosure
Most of the time a seller is required by law to disclose information with regard to renovations or potential issues about the home. Seller disclosure is meant to enlighten the buyer on what he or she is getting into and at the same time insulate the seller from future liability.
Each state has its own disclosure laws. In most cases, disclosure is given after a seller has accepted the offer put by a buyer. In case the agreement has a disclosure contingency, then a buyer has the right to withdraw from the deal.