making-the-most-of-an-open-house-visitOpen houses are the gold standard in real estate. They make it possible for anyone to see a property during a certain time period, without an appointment. For someone new to the market, it’s helpful to know the best practices for visiting open houses and interacting with the real estate agent. For more experienced buyers, the open house is an opportunity to make a second or third visit, get a closer look at the details and uncover things you may have missed earlier.

As a buyer, are you making the most of your open house visits? Take a look at some of the best practices for buyers at all ends of the home-buying spectrum during their open house visits.

Learn the Market without Committing

With today’s online search tools, mobile apps and the open house, a buyer can start to get a feel for pricing and the market before committing to an agent. Open houses are a great opportunity to get a feel for the market. More importantly, they are one of the best ways for buyer and agent relationships to start.

You Don’t Have to Sign In

It’s polite to say hello and introduce yourself to the agent at the open house, but you can also politely decline to sign in. Don’t forget that real estate agents are keeping a look out for who is coming and going, in addition to trying to sell the home for their client, for safety reasons. If you’re an active buyer, make yourself known to the agent and don’t be afraid to express interest. When it comes time to review an offer with a seller, listing agents like to put a face to a name.

Watch the Other Potential Buyers

Observe the people walking around at the open house. If they come in and out quickly, the home probably has some issues. If they’re hanging around, asking questions of the listing agent and talking in the corner to their spouses, it could be a sign this is a well-priced and “hot” listing.

Ask the Agent Questions

The real estate agent is there for a reason, ask questions. Watch the agent’s facial expression and reaction to your questions. If it’s a competitive market, ask questions such as: “Why is the seller selling?” or “Is there a certain day to review offers?” or “Have you had a lot of showings?” In a slow market, ask “How long has the property been on the market?” or “What are the seller’s motivations?” A good agent will engage you because it’s good for their seller.

Be Open to Meeting Your Future Agent

Unlike when you’re considering a new doctor, lawyer or CPA, you have the chance to see real estate agents in their element before you decide to work with them. Some of the best buyer/seller/real estate relationships begin at open houses. Face to face, informal and relevant, the interaction with an agent at an open house is important. You can get a feel for a person just from a brief meeting. A good agent wears two hats at the open house. Besides watching the serious buyers and getting feedback for the seller, an active agent is also looking to interact with future clients.