One of the most exciting steps in the homebuying process is walking through the dwelling in which you might one day live. Whether it’s a new or newly renovated house, touring a residence in person will help you with your purchasing decision.
If you’re ready to attend an open house and want to make the most out of your visit, consider the following tips.
Meet the listing agent
Introduce yourself to the listing agent and let them know your interest in the home. The agent will provide their contact information, literature about the home and offer to show you unique features.
“Some agents host open houses to meet prospective clients and might offer to follow up or stay in touch,” says Sarah Brogdon with Bridge to Brow Property Group. “If you’re already working with a buying agent to search for a new home, respectfully tell them you’re already represented and feel free to name your agent.
“I encourage prospective buyers to interview two or three agents to make sure they find someone they feel comfortable working with and who understands today’s competitive market. This is a huge purchase and representation is important.”
Ask specific questions
You can learn the details of the home that aren’t listed online or in marketing materials by asking the agent the right questions. Ask if the home price has changed, how long the home has been on the market and what offers have been made to purchase it.
In the current competitive climate, the price being dropped several times or a long stay on the market could mean there are issues with the home.
Look for potential damage
Take the time to look closely during an open house for potential red flags. Warped flooring or a musty smell can be a sign of previous water damage or flooding. Black spots near kitchen and bathroom sinks could indicate mold.
The home could have foundation problems if you notice cracks in the ceiling or drywall.
“I always suggest noticing things like the grade around the exterior of the home,” Brogdon notes. “Chattanooga is hilly and we see a lot of wet basements, so if the home is on a slope, buyers might ask if they have had any water intrusion issues or installed any water mitigation to protect the house.”
Beware of unfinished construction
Sometimes a seller runs out of money to finish a home improvement project. If you see exposed wires or a stack of material in a corner of a room, ask the seller about it. This could also be a sign that a contractor had issues finishing a project due to structural issues.
Some lenders might be unwilling to loan money if the house has unfinished construction.
Explore the neighborhood
After viewing the home, walk and drive around the neighborhood. Are there new developments? How’s the curb appeal of the nearby residents?
If you’re interested in the home, drive by at various times on different days to gauge noise levels and traffic patterns.
To learn more about purchasing a new home or for a list of real estate agents to assist you with your home purchase, visit the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga’s member directory at www.HBAGC.net.