Friday, February 11, 2011

It's the Weekend! Let's Hit the Road and Check Out Open Houses!

It’s almost spring! (Okay...after the winter we have been having we can pretend right?) Now that springtime-buy-a-new-house bug is starting to bite. You know that little feeling that tells you that this is the year to buy a new home.

Interest rates are low still at record breaking lows (and we know they cannot stay there much longer). There is a great selection of new and existing homes. And frankly, you are just tired of renting!


So how do you go about finding a first home? Most people start on the internet. Since you are reading this, it is a good bet that your first step will be an online search. But after spending days, weeks and months online, now its time to venture outdoors and see some houses.

So on a perfect winter Sunday, you start driving by some of the properties that were presented so beautifully on the computer screen. You see the real estate signs and the open house arrows, you drive slowly past the home but can't step on the pedal that will slow the car. You are frozen with questions.

What will you say to the agent in the home?
What do you do?
Relax. You are not alone. Many first time home buyers panic outside of an open house because the are unsure of what will be expected of them after they walk through the door. Heck, some aren’t sure before they step over the threshold whether or not to ring the doorbell or just walk in. So you are in very good company if you have been driving by your dream homes.
Here’s a few tips for getting the most out of attending real estate open houses.
  1. Get out of the car! Sounds so simple but you can tell more about the home from the inside of the house than the inside of your car.

  2. Walk right in! If you feel self conscious, ring the doorbell first just for fun. That way you can be certain it works.

  3. If the agent doesn’t say “Hello”, say it first. Let them know you are just checking out the place.

  4. Take a look around. Check out every room, closets, basements, attics and ask the agent questions about the home.

  5. While you are checking out the house, check out the agent. Size up REALTOR to see if he or she is someone that you would want to represent you in the purchase of your home.
Here’s the thing, the first home you visit may or may not be your dream home after all. Heck, probably not even the second or third one will have that "IT" factor for you.
But stopping in open houses gives you a unique opportunity to size up REALTORS. Yep you want to check out several agents to find one that you would want to work with for the next few months. (The home buying process can take a 3-4 months ....you want to make sure you LIKE the person you are working with!) If you take a Sunday and go to 6-7 open houses, you will meet 6-7 different agents. Some you will like; some you will hate; and one you will downright love to work with.
When you make that connection with a REALTOR, sign a buyers’ representation agreement, visit with a loan officer for pre-approval for a loan, and then have your agent show you every home on your short list. Not all home owners allow open houses. Working with one agent will save you time and frustration and allow you to quickly see all of the homes you have been scouting out online.

So what are you waiting for? Get in the car and get out there. Your perfect home and REALTOR awaits!

One Last Tip...If you really don't think you can get out of the car, start visiting REALTOR blogs to get a feel of an agent's personality. Find a few agents that you like and call them to discuss your needs. When you make a connection, sign a representation agreement with the agent. Now your REALTOR will set up private showings and take the open house pressure away.

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