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Open House: Five Questions You Should Ask

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Since buying a home is one of the most expensive and significant purchase of your life, it’s imperative that you ask the right questions going in. Your house will be more than just a roof over your head – it will also be where memories are made and where comfort thrives. Visiting an open house can be a great way to get a look at a property you have had your eye on, or spend some time in a neighborhood where you’d like to belong. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and forget to ask the important questions that will tell you almost everything you need to know about the property.

1. How long has the property been on the market? – Usually, open houses are scheduled not long after a house goes on the market. However, if the price drops or if interest is waning, another one might be scheduled. Try to find out which version of an open house you are attending. If it’s the latter, you might be able to work with your real estate agent on proposing a lower offer, especially if there is desperation to sell. It can also tip you off to potential problems about the property that are not being advertised.

2. Have there been any offers? – This question allows you to feel out the competition. If there have already been one or more offers that have not been accepted, that should give you a sign to not negotiate too low. However, if there haven’t been any offers at all, it could be because of an underlying issue with the home that you will need to investigate.

3. Why are the owners selling? – It might be challenging to get an answer to this one, but the possibility remains that an agent or owner will be willing to tell you that the owners are moving for business and need to be out quickly, or are building their dream home nearby and will need some extra time in the house and aren’t in any hurry to hand over the keys. Any of this information can help you plan your next move.

4. Which appliances are being sold with the home? – Many homes are sold with major appliances such as the stove, refrigerator, and washer and dryer. However, you might stumble upon a property owner that needs to take these things along to the next home. You do not want to find out last minute that you need to make a large appliance purchase, so it’s best to get all of the facts beforehand.

5. Are there any other costs of ownership? – If you are looking at a home in a complex or gated community, there might be special fees associated with the property, such as homeowner’s association dues or special taxes. Being aware of these upfront can help you make your offer decision.