If you’re looking to buy a home, chances are good you’ll attend at least a few open houses. This can be a great time to see several homes in a day, but you can risk not spending enough time in a single property that you miss something important. To help you get a better idea of a home, here are 5 questions to ask the agent when attending an open house in Los Angeles.
WHY ARE THE OWNERS SELLING?
When you ask the agent this question, watch to see if they hesitate in giving you an answer.
If the owners are relocating, want to upgrade, or just wanted a change, the agent is likely to be pretty forthcoming. However, if they’re moving due to problems with the home or the neighborhood, the agent may not be as willing to volunteer this information.
You can have your agent follow up to dig a little deeper if you feel the need to get more information.
HAVE THERE BEEN ANY OFFERS ON THE HOME?
Knowing whether there have been other offers, either ones that have fallen through or that the buyer has withdrawn, can be very telling about the home. If the home hasn’t had any other offers, or if offers have fallen through due to problems with buyers securing funding, it really isn’t something to worry about.
However, if you ask the agent and they say there have been multiple withdrawn offers, you know there could be a problem. There could be hidden problems that only come out during an inspection, for example, or the sellers may be difficult in negotiating contingencies.
ARE THERE ANY PROBLEMS WITH THE HOME?
In most states, the real estate agent is required by law to disclose any known structural problems or code violations. However, these categories don’t always capture anything that could prove an annoyance or an expensive fix.
When you ask the agent about any problems with the home, feel free to ask follow-up questions if you feel you’re not getting a satisfactory answer. Ask about the condition of the roof, windows, and siding, the age and repair history of the appliances, and whether any parts of the home were renovated recently.
Again, if you feel you’re not getting the full picture form the agent, have your agent follow-up for the whole story.
HOW IS THE NEIGHBORHOOD?
A home is more than just the physical property and the yard. It’s also important to find a neighborhood fit for you, including schools, shopping, fitness centers, libraries, and restaurants. Ask the agent for as clear a picture as possible of the neighborhood, including whether it skews younger or older, or if the neighborhood has a pretty wide age spread.
If you’re familiar with the area, you may already know how to find nearby amenities. However, if you don’t already live in the area, have the agent give you an idea of the nearest, best food, shopping, and entertainment, and whether or not you can walk to get to those places.
WHAT’S THE SELLER’S TIMELINE?
Knowing how quickly – or how slowly – the seller wants to get rid of the home can give you a plan for your overall strategy if you want to make an offer. If the sellers want to move quickly because they need to relocate or they’ve already found another home they love, getting your offer in quickly could prove beneficial, even if it isn’t full asking price.
On the other hand, if they’re not in a hurry, you can take your time to look at other properties that may be better than this one, or that can give you an idea of how to make an offer that’s priced with the market and will have a great chance of getting accepted.