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What to ask listing agents at an open house

When you’re ready to buy a home, an open house is a great opportunity to get first-hand information in a short amount of time. Once you get through the front door, though, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment. The house will be staged beautifully, smell great and there’s a friendly agent pointing out all the lovely details. But no matter if you’re touring a home in Waco, Texas or Arlington, Virginia, it’s important to have a few questions ready to ask to help guide your decision. That’s why we gathered the following short list of the best questions you can ask to decide if you should make an offer or just keep looking.

Q: Have there been any changes in the price of the home?

Knowing the history of the asking price of the home can tell you a lot of different things. If there have been multiple drops in the price, this could be a flag of possible issues, making it a good idea to look more carefully at the home before you make an offer. It could also help gauge if the seller is flexible, motivated and able to come down in price or not.

Q: How long has the house been on the market?

While this is information you or your agent can easily find on your own, asking the listing agent this question opens the door to a more detailed discussion that can give you a peek into the seller’s motivation as well as a advantage if you decide to make an offer. If a home is listed for too long, it can become harder to sell, which can give you bargaining power

Q: What are the comps in the neighborhood?

If you are just starting out on your home-buying quest and haven’t worked with a Realtor yet, this is a good question to open dialog with the listing agent. Understanding the values and sales statistics of the immediate and surrounding areas helps you to know if the home you are looking at is priced fairly and worth a closer look.

Q: Has the house has any recent renovations or upgrades? HVAC, roof, electrical, etc.

Asking questions about big-ticket items in a home such as the HVAC system, roof, electrical and plumbing will give you a better understanding of how well the home has been taken care of and any potential large expenses that could come up in the future. Knowing if the home you’re looking at has recently upgraded any or all of these systems can be a big factor when you’re deciding on your offer.

Q: Have there been any offers on the home?

If you think this is the one, it’s good to know if there’s any competition. Listing agents are often all too excited to let you know that one or more offers have been made because it can spark a bidding war and drive up the final sale price. On the other hand, if you know that the home has been on the market for quite some time and there have been no offers, it’s worth a deeper look to find out if there are any issues. Not very many offers doesn’t necessarily mean problems with the home, however. Sometimes it can be a simple as the owner passing on an offer when the home first went on the market as they hoped for more, and then kicking themselves when no more came in.

Q: What is the neighborhood like?

Location, location, location is one of the foundational mottos of real estate for a reason. The homes you are looking at are more than what you see on the tour. It’s a good idea to tour the neighborhood of a home that’s caught your interest and ask the listing agent to share details about the people who live around you and the dynamics of the neighborhood that would affect your quality of life and fit your lifestyle.

Q: Where is the nearest Starbucks?

OK, we’re joking here, but only a little. Asking questions about things like the nearest stores, shopping centers, restaurants, schools and places you visit every day can give you a good idea if this home is a good fit for you and your family. Not only is this a good way to help choose the right neighborhood, it’s can also be an indicator of how well the home will hold its value. (To learn more, read “Surprising Factors that Affect Home Values.”).

If you want to buy a home in Arlington, VA or the surrounding area and are ready to start your search, please feel free to give me a call. I can help you narrow your search to areas and homes that fit your vision and guide you in finding the best values and best fit for your unique needs. Give me a call at (703) 593-6320 or email me at mike@mikesellsvirginia.com for ideas, information, free resources and all the help you need.