Jeff’s Carlsbad Blog for First Time Home Buyers

Open Houses – Why or Why Not?

Posted in Choosing a Realtor,House Hunting,Open Houses by Jeff Dowler on March 16, 2007

open-house-sign-and-house.jpgOpen Houses have been around for years, and many agents conduct them for their sellers. On a rare occasion a buyer will actually buy the home they see at an open house, but the percentage is low (1 – 5% by most reports).   Truth is, while open houses are often conducted to keep sellers happy, since they often don’t sell the house that way, a major reason for them is for the agents to attract buyer clients, such as yourself.

There is nothing wrong with this, IMO. But it is important for you to know, as someone who may be attending them.

I do recommend that buyers go to open houses, especially when you are starting your home search, as it is a good way to get to know the market better and explore homes that are for sale – you can see 5, 10 or more in some markets in one afternoon. But many homes will NOT be open, so you will only see a sampling, however it should be part of your home search strategy. Do try to target your search by using on-line or in-print listings of open houses so you don’t waste time going to those homes that are way out of your price range. It’s not fun to walk into a home, fall in love, and find out it is $100K more than you can afford. How disappointing is that?!

If you are working with an agent, make sure you let the Open House agent know this, and sign in with that person’s name. Better yet, leave their business card.  Agents will be interested in having you work with them, but if you are already committed, common courtesy would be to let the agent know so they don’t pester you…and if they do, move along. Don’t create confusion for them, or for you, and respect the relationship you already have with your agent.

But if you are not working with an agent, going to open houses can help you meet some agents in the area, and perhaps you will find one that you like and will want to assist you (I have met a number of my buyer clients this way). Don’t be hasty in deciding, but it is a good opportunity to gather information, query the agent, and gain a feel for how they work.

If you really like the house you see at an open house and are interested in buying, I would encourage you to find another agent to help you in the transaction as a Buyer Agent. Using the listing agent to assist is OK, but that agent REPRESENTS THE SELLER and cannot truly represent you as well – this is a conflict of interest (also known as dual agency).  And do not reveal your feelings about the home (“this is perfect for us”) as this can harm your ability to negotiate.


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