It’s open house season, and even with COVID-19, they are still happening in many parts of the country. I’m filing this post under “general advice in normal times” because I realize that not everyone is comfortable going to an open house right now. If you’re not, tuck this away for future reference. However, if you are – open houses are great inspiration in so many ways! Today, I’m sharing 4 reasons why you should tour an open house, whether you plan to move or not.
Reasons to Tour ANY Open House
- All eyes are welcome
- Get inspiration for your own home
- See major renovations in person
- Know pricing if you plan to sell
1 – Neighbors are Welcome at an Open House!
Is your neighbor’s house for sale? Go check it out! Seriously, you are both welcome and expected at a local open house. Before I earned my real estate license, I used to think that nosy neighbors were considered intrusive at open houses. We still poked our heads inside when houses went for sale, but I always felt a little guilty as a looky-loo. I’ve since learned why that mindset is totally backward.
When it comes to an open house, a good real estate agent will think – the more bodies, the better. Open houses are not really a great selling tool, but they are a great networking opportunity for agents. They work in the seller’s favor to gauge interest in a home at a particular price point. However, agents don’t actually expect serious buyers to check out an open house; they hope to drum up future business with potential clients. So don’t hold back, even if you don’t plan to buy the home. You are welcome to stop by!
2 – Open Houses Inspire Fresh Ideas
When you tour an open house, I can almost guarantee that you’ll feel inspired to make some changes to your home. Go into an open house with an open mind.
If you tour a home with a similar layout to your own, you’ll see it with fresh eyes. It can feel like entering The Upside Down to see your home with totally different furnishings. Perhaps the living room layout feels larger with a loveseat and two club chairs… or maybe you’ll spot better counter stools at a kitchen island. Paint colors or cabinet fixtures you’ve been debating can make a big impression in someone else’s space.
Even when you tour a home unlike your own, you’ll leave the house with fresh ideas for your own updates. Landscaping, lighting, decor and color schemes, perhaps a fire pit and new deck furniture… you never know what you’ll find.
3 – Get Remodeling Inspiration and Direction
Diving deeper, it’s helpful to see remodeled homes if you’re saving up for major projects in your own house. If you can tour homes in your own neighborhood, it might be helpful to see how neighbors have remodeled spaces similar to your own.
For example, feel how new recessed lighting changes the space. Look at your dream cabinets in a real kitchen, not a showroom. Experience how room additions change the layout of a similar home. Investigate whether or not a freestanding tub truly feels cramped or comfortable in a bathroom similar to yours.
I recently looked at a house to see this bathroom tile in person, because I’m planning something similar and wanted to check out the shower curb tile transition.
Sometimes you’ll get to experience new technology and smart home features at an open house. See smart plugs, switches, or thermostats in person, experience color-changing and smart lightbulbs, heated tile floors, or perhaps high-tech appliances.
Last, you might get a sense of which renovations are worth tackling if you plan to sell. Perhaps you’ll notice modern new door hardware throughout a home and decide to change your knobs to levers. Or you might be impressed with the statement lighting your neighbor chose, and that could take priority over replacing your windows.
4 – Get a Clear Price Comparison, if You Plan to Sell
Real estate agents are forever running “comps” to help clients buy and sell properties. It’s essential to know how much comparable homes have recently sold for, but there’s often more to the story. If you plan to sell, definitely check out any open houses in your neighborhood in person. Online listing photos will show features that have been updated, but it’s impossible to accurately judge the condition of the house. Here are a few examples that you have to experience live:
We toured a home for sale in our neighborhood that looked cute online. However, it reeked of cat urine in person. I’m not kidding!
It’s worth knowing how loud a busy street truly sounds. Or perhaps the next-door neighbor lets her dogs outside to bark all afternoon. Maybe the home is under a flight path and there will be jets overhead (although, obviously you would know that in the same neighborhood). Noise impacts price.
Another house on our street was recently purchased and updated by an iBuyer (Open Door, Zillow, etc.). When we toured the house, we could see that the updates were done sooo cheaply. The house sat on the market for weeks, which is unheard of in our fire-hot local housing market. I know the cheap updates explain it, but price cuts in this situation don’t necessarily reflect the market, so that house is not a great comp.
I harp on the cleanliness of houses for sale, but it does make a difference. If a house is a grimy, former rental, it probably won’t fly off the shelves. Conversely, a dated but spiffed-up house can sell quickly and for more than you might expect.
I toured a completely renovated bungalow and was shocked to see that the seller didn’t send in a housecleaner after the contractor finished. The brand-new kitchen and bathrooms were all dirty, which detracted from all the hard work that went into that project. Cleaning is always worth the time and effort when you sell.
How to Find Open Houses
Start by checking your local real estate listings online.
Other search sites – Use the filter settings. If you are curious about a specific house, look for a comment about an open house time and date in the listing description, or reach out to the listing agent. Sometimes agents will add a notice on Thursday, Friday, or even Saturday/Sunday morning. Many agents are offering virtual tours in lieu of an open house these days, but I’m seeing more and more open houses as the weeks go by.
Go Tour The Next Open House (if You’re Ready)
There you have it! The next time you spot an open house, I hope you’ll check it out. If you’re already an open house junkie, do you have anything to add to this list? I’d love to know! Leave a comment below.