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5 Questions to Ask at an Open House

April 27, 2015 By: Great Midwest Bank

photograph of open-space kitchen with marble countertops, white cabinets, and two pendant lights hanging over a large island

Have you been tirelessly researching upcoming open houses? Found a few that you’ve already fallen in love with?

As they say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” That applies to many aspects of life, including when shopping for a new home. It would be easy to choose a home based on the beautiful new patio or granite countertops, but sometimes this can be a recipe for disaster.

In order to save yourself a major headache down the road, shop with confidence by asking these essential questions at every open house:

How long has the house been on the market?

By now most people know to ask this question. If a house has been on the market a while, it might mean there is a problem with the house itself or a case of simply being overpriced. Either way, it’s perhaps a good opportunity to make an offer at a discount.

How many offers have been made?

This is a good way to gauge your competition and how quickly you’ll need to act. Do your best to avoid multiple offer bidding wars, unless you think the value is justified by recent sales.  Unfortunately, in today’s market, that idea is sometimes unavoidable.  If you do make the winning offer, be patient with your home inspection.  Don’t feel rushed by the fact that there were multiple offers.

How much does it cost for heat, electricity and water?

That first utility statement after moving into a new home can be daunting. Ask this question ahead of time to help determine your budget. If a specific utility seems higher than you’d expect, this could also suggest an underlying issue that should be checked out during an inspection.

What recent updates have been made?

Some updates, like appliances (which you shouldn’t assume will come with the house), will be obvious. Others may not. For example, it might be difficult to tell if the electricity or roof have been redone.

What issues does the house have?

Sellers are not allowed to hide any known code violations or structural issues. Read the Real Estate Condition Report… many buyers skim it but it’s one of the most important items in your offer.

Ask these questions, investigate the neighborhood, and do a thorough job of viewing the home, and you’ll be on the right path to landing yourself in the home of your dreams.

Before you start planning your weekends around Open Houses, though, take time to fill out our online Home Mortgage Loan application. Having a pre-approval letter in hand when looking at houses can be the difference between having your offer on your dream home accepted or passed over. Having a pre-approval letter from a local, community bank like Great Midwest Bank can help give you an extra edge, as we have a longstanding reputation among local real estate agents for being thorough.

Have additional questions about the home buying process before you venture off to your first open house? Contact one of Great Midwest Bank’s friendly, experienced loan officers today.

Photo credit: Aurimas Adomavicius / Foter / CC BY-ND