Apr 15, 2011

Is That Open House Really for Sale?

In my earlier post, about asking questions when visiting open houses, I forgot one of the most important questions: How fast are things moving here, i.e. what's the timeline for receiving offers?

IMG_3307.JPGYou might discover -- as is not uncommon -- that it's already too late, or very nearly so. The house is in contract,  but the agent is holding the open house anyway.

Why would the seller go ahead with an open house with an already pending sale? Several reasons are possible, such as:

  • just in case the first contract falls through -- in which case other potential buyers will have seen the house, and the seller doesn't waste time restarting the process
  • to try to bring in a backup offer, which will come into play if the first contract falls through (though its real purpose, from the seller's standpoint, is often to put pressure on the existing buyer to act in a cooperative manner and not start nickel-and-diming the seller over issues like repair needs)
  • for the sake of the agent, who can use this chance to meet with the homebuying public and perhaps pick up new clients.
Of course, if you're visiting houses with a real estate agent, the agent should already have the inside scoop on the place. But if you're just starting your search, or operating on a casual basis with an agent whom you've arranged to call if you see a place you like, be aware of this issue. It's no fun falling in love with a house only to find out someone else got there first.

(P.S. The photo above doesn't represent a place that continued holding open houses after getting a contract signed -- it's just a random photo to relieve your eyes from the text!)