If you’re shopping for a new home, hitting a slew of open houses in an afternoon might seem like a savvy strategy. After all, you don’t have to make an appointment. You can just walk in—and walk away guilt-free if you don’t like what you see. But when you come across a home that appeals to you, it pays to be an informed consumer. Keep these seven smart moves in mind.
1. Search the Internet first
Sure, you have to see a house in person to really get a feel for it. But with so many online listings available, you can rule out the obvious duds without making the trip.
2. Bring your own realtor with you
Sellers’ agents are there to look out for their clients, which means they won’t have your best interests at heart. Your realtor, on the other hand, is on your side. He or she can easily spot potential problems with the house. If your realtor isn’t available, tell the selling agent right up front that you have your own realtor.
3. Ask why the seller is selling now
You may not get the whole truth, but you might get a sense of how motivated the seller is. That can be helpful if you decide to make an offer.
4. Find out if the house has ever been in escrow
Any house that got to that stage in the selling process without the deal being closed could mean it didn’t pass the inspection. It could also mean that someone changed their mind. Either way, if the house has been in escrow, an inspection is a must before you buy.
5. Know how long the house has been on the market
Your realtor can probably find this out before you hit the open house. If the house has been on the market for a while, the seller might be more open to an offer well below asking price.
6. Check for any liens on the property
Are there any taxes, construction costs or other fees due? The selling agent should be honest, but your agent can double-check this for you.
7. Ask if any offers have already been made on the house
If you have competition, you may get into a bidding war, so be sure you really love the house before jumping in.