Whether you’re intent on buying a home or just curious, hitting up open houses is probably the most fun part of house hunting. It can help you get the lay of the land when it comes to scouring the real estate market.
Every weekend, hundreds of homes for sale open their doors so prospective buyers can pop in, check out the property, and get an up-close view of their potential future homes.
But how do you find them? And aside from ooohing and ahhing over backyard pools, charming foyers, and spacious walk-in closets, what should you do while you have the chance to really view a property?
Keep these tips in mind to make the most of your open house visiting spree.
How to find open houses
Try any or all of these techniques to zero in on your dream home, and find out when its doors will be open for a look-see:
- Do an online search.
- Find listings on your phone.
- Use Instagram and other social media
- Look for the signs.
- Visit local real estate offices.
How to make the most of open houses
It’s easy to wander aimlessly through home after home, swooning over chef’s kitchens, double-vanity bathrooms, and built-in bookshelves. However, if you arrive at an open house with a game plan, you’ll get much more out of it.
Here are some tips to maximize your time when perusing a for-sale property:
- Plan your path.
Open houses tend to congregate on the weekend, so if you want to hit many of them or just cut down on running the roads, it’s best to plot them out on a map, with the times they’re open, to visualize the best order to tackle them. If you’re walking from one to the other in the same neighborhood, be sure to wear comfortable shoes!
- Take photos.
After you view lots of houses, they might start to blur together. Therefore it’s a great idea to “chronicle” your open house journey with a series of photos from each open house, plus notes, so when you’re reviewing them later you can remember what you liked and disliked about each property. Just jot quick first impressions, like “spacious kitchen,” “unique floor plan,” “dated cabinetry,” or “worn carpet in bedrooms.” At each house, start with a photo of the exterior and a flier that includes the listing details, so you can identify it easily when you’re reviewing the pictures later.
- Think beyond the home you’re in.
Chat with the real estate agent about the neighborhood, not just the house. Sizing up bedrooms and imagining your monogrammed towels in the bathroom are fun open house activities, but be sure to think beyond the house itself. Consider school zones, drive times to your most frequent destinations, and the upkeep of surrounding roads. “If the home isn’t something you like, they probably have others they could show you,” says Ali. “If you don’t like that house but you like the Realtor and aren’t working with anyone yet, tell them so and ask what else they have. Try not to leave an open house without at least one new phone number or listing idea, and soon you’ll find the right place for you.”