An article just came out on Realtor.com. It was called “7 Questions to Ask at an Open House That Uncover the Truth, Warts and All” and considering what I do for a living, I decided to read the article.
My first reaction was “DUH”! and I will tell you why.
Question 1 – “Can you tell me about the house?” If the homeowner is present that question may have validity but the real estate
agent does not have first hand knowledge of the home. That question is far too vague and you are at that point letting the agent go into a sales tirade without gaining any useful knowledge. Get specific. Ask about the age of the roof, heating system. Ask when the home was last updated.
Question 2 – “What shape is the place in?” REALLY?!?!?!?!? An agent is not a home inspector. They cannot advise as to the condition of any mechanical item, short of stating an obvious and visible flaw or new fixture. If you are concerned about the heating system, ask about it. If you are concerned about the age of the roof, ask about it. If you are concerned about anything, ask about it. Get very specific and ask if there are any disclosures on the property made by the seller that you should be aware of. Asking what shape it is in is putting an agent in a situation that they do not have the legal or personal knowledge to be able to answer.
Question 3 – “Has there been a lot of interest in the property?” That is a fair question and one the agent will know.
Question 4 – “When are the sellers looking to close?” Another fair question that will let you know what date to put on your offer to make it more attractive to a seller.
Question 5 – “How much do utilities usually run?” This will help you realize whether the home is truly affordable to you. A home that has heating costs of $1,000 per month in the worst part of the winter might not work in your budget. Just keep in mind the utility costs will vary based on the people occupying the property.
Question 6 – “How much traffic can one expect in this area?” Just stop! How, and I mean how, do you think an agent would know this????? Do you think they count cars??? DUH! YOU are going to be the one living in the home and YOUR idea of a “busy” street may be very different than mine or the seller.
But my absolute favorite one was……
#7 – “What is the neighborhood like?” OMG!!!! Yikes! Danger Will Robinson Danger!!! That is not a question ANY agent remotely wants to step into the cauldron with! There are far too many Fair Housing Violations that could be made. It is a horrifically scary question for an agent and one that will not get many useful answers for a buyer.
So all in all there was some useful information in this article, but some of the questions I am going to reiterate my original statement of DUH!
When buying a home this is not the time to be vague and it is also not the time to rely on questions being posed to a person that cannot answer them. Buying a home is a very active process. YOU are the person that will be living in the home!
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Bobbie Files is a Real Estate agent at SUCCESS Real Estate, covering the Bristol, Plymouth and Norfolk County areas