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7 Lessons Learned From Open Houses (Whether You’re Buying or Just Browsing)

Photo credit: Getty Images/courtneyk

Photo credit: Getty Images/courtneyk

Drop in, drop out, enjoy the food, get a feel for different neighborhoods—there are plenty of reasons strolling through open houses should rise to the top of every house hunter’s to-do list. And since spring and fall are prime time for open houses throughout the city, now is the time to make room in your Sunday schedule to visit top prospects on your list.

“Open houses are no longer just for ‘browsers’ anymore,” says Coldwell Banker Preferred agent Jeanne Polizzi. “With more than 95 percent of all buyers finding their prospective homes on the internet first, open houses become a critical way for buyers to spearhead their own search.”

Before you walk through the door, take note of a few insider tips from the agents at Coldwell Banker Preferred. From when to come, who to bring, and what to expect, these tips make sure your open house experience is one with a happy ending.

1. Don’t show up early.

Being punctual has its perks, but showing up early can actually be more of a detriment to making a good first impression.

“It’s great to show interest by being punctual, but be sure you’re giving the listing agent, or their representative, enough time to open the house, turn on lights, open blinds and get themselves prepared,” says Polizzi.

2. Showing up doesn’t automatically give you a leg up on the competition.

In a sea of buyers and browsers, simply showing up doesn’t always mean you’ll stand out when it comes time to make an offer on a house.

“Often agents have offers in their hands prior to an open house,” says Coldwell Banker Preferred agent Kathy Gagnon.

However, one of the best ways to express interest in a home is to bring your real estate agent along with you to a home that’s at the top of your wish list.

“A buyer who is accompanied by their agent can move swiftly in writing up an offer if they like the home,” says Coldwell Banker Preferred agent Nicole Miller-Desantis.

If you’re still in the browsing phase and aren’t sure about making an offer yet, be sure to leave your agent’s contact information or card at the homes that catch your eye.

“Putting this info out early and coming back later that day or the next morning with your agent for a second showing shows you’re serious about taking next steps,” says Polizzi.

3. Mind your manners.

It’s inappropriate for a buyer to show up to an open house and loudly discuss the things they don’t like about a home, things they feel need to be changed, or the price,” says Polizzi.

In some cases, buyers who actually like the home might try this tactic to dissuade others from making an offer. Leave it to the pros, instead.

Letting your agent devise a plan of attack is the more strategic method for winning your dream home in a competitive market. When you work with a real estate agent, they are able to negotiate directly with the seller’s agent, making your offer stand out as respectful, thought-out, and most importantly, professional. 

4. Have your checkbook handy.

If you’re a veteran to open houses, or you’ve done your research and know this is “the one,” be ready with your agent and checkbook in hand.

“If you like the house, you should be with your agent writing up an offer,” says Miller-Desantis.

5. Know it’s staged.

Open houses can be the final part of your house hunting journey–giving you a glimpse into what it’s like to live in the space for a few hours out of the day. And while staging is key to show off a home’s unique personality, it’s also important to look beyond the display. A pro tip: Take a trip around the block.

“Homes always show to their advantage when staged properly,” says Gagnon. “Talk to neighbors and look around the neighborhood.”

6. Say ‘hello’ to everyone.

Whether the open house is organized by the homeowner, or the homeowner’s agent, it’s always good practice to be polite and introduce yourself (and your agent) to the host.

It’s important for the agent to know if you’re working with another agent so they know who they should contact with any updates on the property,” says Desantis.

Plus, depending on the situation, if multiple offers come in on a property it always helps agents to be able to put a name with a face.

“That buyer then becomes more than just a number on a page,” says Polizzi. “In some cases, when the seller is a family who has pride of ownership and has an emotional attachment to the house, it can be effective.”

7. Stop in as many as possible.

When it comes to how many open houses you should visit throughout your experience, stop in as many as your schedule allows throughout the year—not just in the spring or fall.

Making the rounds any time of the year is a smart idea when you are at the beginning of the process because it can help you truly get a feel for what you like and dislike more so than when you browse on the computer.

For more insider information on how you can get started on your home search in the Philadelphia area visit, Coldwell Banker Preferred online at coldwellbankerhomes.com/philadelphia.