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Posted in: Buying a home, First time homebuyer tips

Five questions to ask at an open house

open house questions

If you’re a homebuyer attending open houses, it’s important to know the etiquette – and what questions you should ask as you look at different properties. Here are five questions you can ask and insights you can use as you go through the process of touring homes for sale in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

How long has the home been on the market, and at what price?

If you have a chance to look at the listing online before you enter the home, you can easily find this information within the property’s details. Your bidding strategy can be greatly impacted by this information, so it’s important to keep it in mind as you tour the home. If the home hasn’t sold in a few months, and has never undergone a price cut, for example, you may have some leverage as you put in your offer. If the home just underwent a price cut, you may want to stick closer to that price so your offer is accepted.

If you don’t see the online listing before the open house, your REALTOR® can quickly gather the pricing and days on market information for the home. You can also ask the agent who is hosting the open house.

Has anyone made an offer?

This can be a tricky question but if the listing agent is willing to open up, they may provide insights you can use as you shore up your offer strategy. For example, if they say they have rejected past offers, you may not want to underbid on the home. If they admit they haven’t seen any offers you may have a little more leeway as you make an offer on the home.

Has the home ever been in escrow?

Next, you can ask if the home has ever been in escrow. If a home has made it that far through the process with a past buyer, there may have been an issue with the home’s appraisal or inspection. Your Realtor can help you obtain copies of these reports so you can feel secure about the home and your potential purchase.

What updates have been made?

If a home has shag carpeting and avocado-green appliances, the answer to this question may be obvious. But most homeowners tend to update and upgrade parts of the home before selling and it’s helpful to know the details of this recent work. Ask about appliances like washers, dryers, refrigerators and ovens, as well as larger systems like the furnace and central air. Last, ask about the age of the roof, exterior siding and automatic garage door.

Why are the sellers moving?

The listing agent and sellers don’t have to answer this question. But if they do, it may affect your bidding strategy. If the homeowner is being relocated and needs to move quickly, you could include a quick path to closing in your offer. If they need to wait three months before they can move into their newly built Prior Lake home – and you can wait that long, too – then you’ll want to offer a slower path to closing. Remember, not all bids are won on dollar value alone.

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Status Definitions

For sale: Properties which are available for showings and purchase

Active contingent: Properties which are available for showing but are under contract with another buyer

Pending: Properties which are under contract with a buyer and are no longer available for showings

Sold: Properties on which the sale has closed.

Coming soon: Properties which will be on the market soon and are not available for showings.

Contingent and Pending statuses may not be available for all listings