Buyers: How to Maximize Your Time Spent at an Open House


If you’re on the prowl for a home, visiting open houses should probably be on your to-do list. After scouring the internet looking at a ton of listings, visiting open houses provides you with the opportunity to not only see homes up close and personal, but also get your foot in the door in terms of a successful offer on a property that catches your eye.

This is especially helpful during a hot seller’s market, which is pretty much the case wherever you go in California these days. You’ll likely be competing with other eager buyers, so anything you can do to put yourself in a prime position to land the perfect home should be done.

As a buyer, here are some ways to optimize your open house visit and boost your chances of landing that home you want.

Develop a Rapport With the Listing Agent

Be the first person to attend the open house. This will give you the chance to get the listing agent one-on-one so you can establish a connection. Doing so will make the agent feel more comfortable with you and perhaps be more open to answering your questions, including more pressing ones such as why the sellers are moving and what their underlying motivations are. It will also give you the opportunity to make a good impression on the agent which can go a long way on the negotiating table.

Check Out the Competition

Take a look around at the other buyers that are meandering throughout the home. Do they seem really interested? Does it look as if an offer is imminent shortly after the open house ends? Pay attention to other buyer’s reactions to specific characteristics of the home, which could be an indication of interest level. This will give you an idea of the likelihood of a multiple offer situation. In this case, you will have to be crafty in how to draft up a competitive and creative offer.

Get a Feel For How the Home Would Be if it Was Yours

Don’t be afraid to make yourself comfy at an open house, within reason. Have a seat on the sofa, open up the closet doors, and pull out the drawers. Try to envision what life would be like for you and your family if you purchased the home and settled in. Does it feel like a good fit? Can you see yourself living there? These are important questions you need to ask yourself before you go in with an offer.

Watch What You Say

You won’t be alone at an open house, which means what you say will likely be heard. Anyone within earshot will hear all of your negative remarks about the ugly wallpaper or the unsightly area rugs. This is still someone else’s home, after all, so try to mind your manners when walking through the place. It won’t look very good on you if the listing agent hears about how much you hate some aspects of the home. Keep your feedback – whether good or bad – to yourself until after the open house.

Check Out the Surrounding Neighborhood

While the house itself is extremely important, so is the location. In fact, location is the most important factor in the buying process as it directly affects your property’s value today and into the future. Visit the neighborhood on weekdays and weekends, as well as at different times of the day to get a feel for what the area is like at various times.

Try to get a sense of what the vibe is like in the neighborhood and what the people who live there are like to deal with on a daily basis. Check out the local amenities such as shops, eateries, and parks. This will give you a clearer idea about whether or not the neighborhood is a good fit for you and your family before putting in an offer.

Keep Your Excitement About the Home on the Down-Low

You might have fallen head over heels in love with the home, but don’t let the cat out of the bag just yet. Other buyers will be around you scoping out the property and will most likely be paying attention to how others are reacting to the place. If they see that you’re overly excited about the home and are likely to put in an offer, that may be just enough motivation for them to get their offer in too which means more competition for you.

Communicate With Your Agent

If the home you’ve visited is the one you want to put an offer on, tell your agent right away so the papers can be drafted and presented to the seller before any other interested buyers decide to do the same. If there’s enough time, you can have a second tour of the home scheduled before submitting your offer. Communicating with your agent right away will give you a leg up on the competition as your write a winning offer that will get you the home.

The Bottom Line

With homes being snatched up as quickly as they are these days, you really don’t have a lot of time to play with as a buyer. Keep your eyes and ears open for upcoming open houses and attend them. While you’re there, make the most of your time by following the above tips to help you achieve an accepted offer sooner rather than later.