7 questions buyers need to ask at open house events

Be sure to arm yourself with questions ahead of an open house event

Be sure to arm yourself with questions ahead of an open house event - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

From a buyer’s perspective, viewing a property during an open house event can seem stressful.

But Strutt & Parker – whose National Open House Day is imminent – say such events are the ideal opportunity for house hunters to view many properties with greater freedom and flexibility – whilst also checking out the competition.

Sally Noakes, Partner at Strutt & Parker’s Harpenden office, says: “The difference with our national event is that properties which buyers have just seen will remain fresh in their minds for the next viewing, putting them in a better position to make choices. This freedom also means buyers often end up viewing a handful of houses they might not have usually seen.”

This year’s event will be held on Saturday May 13. If you’re thinking of attending, the agency advises you arm yourself with the following questions:

1. Have many offers been made?

Although it is against the law for the agent to disclose exactly how much people have offered, they will tell you how many offers have already been made. If none have yet to be made, this could take the pressure off placing a bid straight away, whilst conversely if three or four have already come in, you may need to act quickly and boldly to secure the sale.

2. Why does the seller want to move?

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It is always useful to understand why a seller is moving so you are perfectly at liberty to ask. You may not always hear the exact reason due to agent discretion but ask the question anyway, and do your best to try to read between the lines.

3. How long has this property been on the market?

Before arriving at the open house event, do your homework on property portals like Rightmove to see if the house has been on with another agent or for sale at a different price. When at the open house, the agent can tell you exactly when they started marketing the property. If the house has been on for over six months, this may affect your offer price.

4. How much do utilities cost?

This becomes important if buyers are upsizing from a small two-bed apartment to a four-bed detached home. Simply asking to see a few heating bills may avoid any big shocks further down the line, especially if the boiler is particularly old. And don’t forget the size of the house, even nearby trees, will have an impact on home insurance.

5. What are the neighbours like?

Most of the time the agent and seller will tell you they have had no issues with the neighbour. But if they have, don’t fear – sellers and indeed estate agents are not allowed to withhold information so will tell you exactly what the issues are.

6. What stays with the home?

Knowing exactly what is and what isn’t included in the sale sounds obvious, but knowing this whilst viewing a property will keep things fresh in your mind especially if you want to make a conditional offer with part of the contents, such as curtains, included.

7. What is the seller’s timeline?

If the seller hasn’t found a home to buy and you’re in a position to move quickly, you might find yourself stuck in a chain leaving you in an uncertain position. However, if the seller already has a place to move into and is keen to sell as fast as possible, you may be able to use this to your advantage when making an offer. In this situation, cash buyers are usually preferred as they are able to move more quickly than those requiring a mortgage.

For more information or to register for the National Open House Day, visit www.struttandparker.com/services/residential/open-house-day.