Key Questions To Ask At An Open House
An open house is more than just a chance to view the home for yourself. It's an opportunity to get the pulse of the community, to learn about the neighborhood, the history, and the work that's gone into the home you're touring. When attending an open house, you should feel relaxed and at ease. After all, it's the selling agent's job to entertain you - to provide a welcoming atmosphere and even a little snack to keep you going throughout the day. However, as attendees to an open house, it shouldn't be all about the fruit platter and good energy. You're there for a reason, and it's not for the free coffee. Here are some insightful, and important questions you should consider asking when attending your next open house.
How Many Offers Are There On The Home?
Keep your eyes on the listing agent, whose disposition and attention to guests may give away whether the house has offers or not. Oftentimes, the agent will initiate the conversation and deliver the news that multiple offers have been given themselves. Their hope is to create a sense of urgency and subsequently, a bidding war. By getting out in front of the agent and asking ahead, you're showing intent but not allowing them to take point on the conversation. In addition, you may not want to endure the stresses and back and forth of a bidding war. Finding out this important detail will help determine your next step before seeing past the living room.
Has The Price Fluctuated At All?
Price fluctuations often have a bad rap, as if to indicate uncertainty, previous overvaluation, or an unforeseen discovery. Price fluctuations do indicate instability, by their very nature, but are not always a significant detraction from the home's overall value. Oftentimes price changes might be a simple response to nearby comparisons. We've seen cases in which a seller and their Realtor overvalued the home simply by overlooking recent price trends, without anything negative happening in or to the home to force such a change. In short, price fluctuations are a signal to you to ask why, but not every answer will disqualify the home from your dragnet.
What's The Seller's Reason For Moving?
Some reasons may be too personal, and it's not right to prod into the private affairs of a stranger. Normally, these reasons are far more benign than private, with answers like "they're downsizing" "kids are going to college" or "the husband got a new job in a different city." Yet, there may be other less savory reasons why the previous homeowner would relocate that you definitely should know before putting in an offer. Without poking too hard, you may learn something about the property, the neighborhood, or the town around it that changes your mind and helps you dodge a possibly poor decision.
How Long Has It Been On The Market?
Length on the market is another example of a possible red flag, but hardly a certainty. For example, the time on the market for Boca Raton Real Estate listings in 2023 is 25 days longer than the previous period, while the home sale prices have only increased by $21,805. This doesn't indicate anything negative about the city, or that anything has changed on the property side. It does indicate, however, that buyer hesitancy in response to escalating interest rates, and lack of available inventory have impacted decision-making in the market. Whereas in 2020, cash buyers would pay double the value for a home that was half the price the year before, the rapidity of flight to South Florida has skewed the numbers, and likely has nothing to do with the home you're viewing.
Any Word On The Neighbors?
Realtors are limited in what they can say about the neighborhood and the neighbors found within, but there may be some recent insight into any potential trouble that could brew. More than often, however, you'll learn that the neighbors are pleasant people who mind their own business and carry on with their lives. The nature of your property and aspects like the number of rentals in the area, the nearby crime rate, and security in your development, may affect the world outside of your home from the outskirts of town to your doorstep.
What Are The Most Recent Updates On The Home?
In a South Florida home, there are three main areas of concern regarding the updates and health of the home infrastructure. These three are the roof, HVAC, and plumbing. The foundation is an additional concern but rarely manifests between inspections without a significant event like a hurricane. A new roof, hot water heater, or HVAC changes the nature of a home sale, especially when contrasted with the prospect of an old and run-down unit. New home updates may be aesthetic, lifestyle-focused, or integral to home infrastructure. Buying a home with a new-ish roof or tankless hot water heater is a value add and should be seen as a plug-and-play solution to an eventual problem you'll have to address as a homeowner.
Has The Home Been Tested For Radon, Mold, Asbestos, and Lead, and Soil Corruption?
This should be an expectation, but you should ask about the most recent biohazard and chemical pollution inspections in the home. Boca Raton homes are predominantly new, with few among them dating before 1970. Yet, even such a new and recently tamed land can come with its hazards, and poorly kept homes in South Florida can descend into disrepair much faster than in more temperate climes. This is especially true with biological concerns, where the heat and humidity can foster an environment teeming with insects, mold, and wood rot. Ensure your home is safe from biological, chemical, and foundational concerns that come with a climate that is teeming with life.
What Is The Average Utility Bill?
The utility bill in a home is a byproduct of several factors. Some of these are within our control, while others are not. For instance, a previous homeowner that is flippant with their doors and windows in midsummer may skyrocket their power bill. Or, perhaps the previous owner was handy with tools and sealed every gap, ran every appliance efficiently, and benefited from their diligence. In all likelihood, your power bill will remain close to the average, as lifestyle considerations rarely account for the impact that light fixtures, window treatments, and proper sealing can have on the home. As a significant part of your monthly budget, get to know this number and plan your expectations ahead.