Four Things to Look For as a Buyer at an Open House
Updated: Jul 7
Did you know, nearly all homebuyers today begin their search on a smartphone, tablet, laptop or home computer? In todays day and age, this makes sense. Anyone in the market to purchase a property, has it all easily accessible with a few clicks on a smart device. Before starting the search is the optimal time to reach out to your realtor. We can suggest places to search online that are superior to others, as well as advise what to look for while “surfing the web.”
We put together Four “Tips” we want our Buyers to Consider when visiting an Open House.
First things first, Call your Realtor before you go to an Open House. If you don’t have a realtor, our suggestion would be to go online to a major site like realtor.com and find a realtor in your “area of interest” that has good reviews and recommendations. Call or text them, and see if they are interested in working with you. That way, you go into an Open House with an Agent that has YOUR best interest at heart.
Now, getting back to why you call your Realtor first. Often times, we come across many buyers that visit an Open House and then call their realtor. A typical response is, “I didn’t want to bother you” or “I figured I would get my feet wet first, I’m just thinking about it.”
All of these answers are acceptable. We always work with our buyers at their own pace but also want them to be at an advantage every step of the way. For us to have a conversation about your Real Estate needs is never a bother and can place you well ahead of the competition. We can prepare you for your Open House journey, and advise you what to look for in the house at a first glance.
They tell you to never judge a book by its cover. In residential Real Estate this is considered curb appeal. Curb appeal can tell the story of a property before ever going inside. Knowing the approximate age of the structure can allow insight to compare the changes of building codes as well as construction materials used at that time. This will allow you to analyze what items have been updated since the structure was built.
Throughout the years codes have changed. Looking at the structure from the curb can provide insight into what upgrades were completed and approximately when. For example, the electrical line runs to the structure from the street. Once upon a time the line was bolted to a wood pole and ran into the structure from there. Over time wood tends to decay. That specific electrical code was eventually changed to what you see today. Other items you can check for from the curb include the age of the roof, type of air conditioning, irrigation system, window upgrades, and heating type amongst others.
Now that you have completed your outside scan of the house, you walk inside. The Real Estate agent that is greeting you at the Open House typically represents the Seller and works in their best interest, not yours. New York State has impressed upon Real Estate agents the need to have you sign a disclosure stating this information at the time of first substantial contact. It is the law. On the top of the agency form it states, “This is not a contract” and it is not, just know what you’re signing. Often times, little questions that feel like conversation starters can really be probing questions to find out your timeline & purchasing qualifications. The answers you provided can come back to you during the important time of negotiations. We will always try to accompany our buyers to an open house. If we cannot make it, we typically will call to let the listing agent conducting the Open House, to let them know you’re coming with our Business Card, as a professional courtesy.
Now that you're inside, look at the big ticket items such as the kitchen and bathrooms.
These parts of the house are typically the most costly. Are they clean but dated or do they need immediate attention prior to moving in? These questions can play a factor in your decision making. It is also important to consider the future value of the house after any upgrades you complete. If the return on your investment after updating a kitchen or bath will bring more equity than cost to upgrade, it can make the property more attractive to you as a potential buyer. Other times it can make sense to move in and complete the upgrade as time goes on, for budgeting purposes. Either way will work, but it is important to consider both factors.
Another big ticket item is the Heating System. This is also referred to as the “Burner.”
It can be hard to tell the age of the Burner. However, when you are working with a Realtor, that has your best interest at heart, they will do their best to get that information for you.
Here is a fun fact: If you take a picture of the manufacturer and serial number you can later type the serial number into a search engine, easily obtaining the date of manufacture.
The two most common types of heating on Long Island are oil and gas. We can write an entire blog on the differences between the two, but for many, it comes down to preference. If the house is oil, it is important to identify the location of the oil tank which can typically be found in one of three places. Either above ground on the outside of the structure, in the basement of the structure or in-ground outside the structure. (If the tank is in-ground it should be properly abated prior to a change of ownership)
What if the house is oil but you want gas? Many times there is gas in the area. You can always call the utility company to find out. A good way to take initiative to see if there is gas in the area on your own, is to drive the neighborhood and check other properties. Typically if a house has been converted to gas in the last 20 years you will see a gray gas meter, on the side of the structure roughly knee high. If you see the meter on a neighbors house gas is likely in the street. Many utility companies will run the first 100 feet of the gas line for free. All you have to do is promise to hook up one appliance.
In summary, make sure you communicate your Open House schedule to your Real Estate Agent. Make sure you look at the Exterior of the property for structural items like the roof, irrigation and heating. Look at big ticket items on the interior, like the Kitchen and the Bathrooms. Lastly, know the Heating system the house currently has.
Choosing your Real Estate Advisor can save or cost you thousands. Do your homework, read reviews, check sales history & interview your agent. That being said we hope you enjoyed the reading the tips. Do not hesitate to reach out, day or night, with any question, anytime.
I was always told, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
We love what we do.
Yours in Service,
Richie Jr. & Taleen Krug