Apr 04, 2011

Visiting Open Houses? Ask Questions!

I've started engaging in one of my favorite springtime hobbies: visiting open houses. I'm not alone, either -- I was literally bumping elbows with other visitors on the staircases.

Some of the visitors looked genuinely interested in the homes, a few were conferring seriously with their agents in the corner, and others were probably nosy neighbors just like me.

But the one thing no one seemed to be doing was asking the listing agent, who was typically just standing in the front room looking bored, any serious questions. I sometimes ask questions, just for my own curiosity -- and I often get some interesting answers.

For example, by asking "What's going to happen to that vacant lot behind that back fence?" I learned that it was up for sale as well, and would likely contain a new structure soon. If I'd been a serious buyer, that's something I would have wanted to know about well before falling in love with the place.

Tulip path.JPGIt doesn't take a real estate expert to think of likely questions to ask: Just look around, and think about the practicalities of living in the place, or what the future might bring.

Also read the brochure. If it says "Monthly condo fees," ask for a dollar figure. If there's been a price reduction, ask what the original price was, and how long the place has been on the market.

Or if you can't think of anything else, ask how the open house has been going, and whether other people have requested disclosure packets or expressed serious interest in the place. You might get some interesting answers too!