While viewing property listings online from the comfort of your home is easy, it only provides so much information. You’ll have to visit to understand if a home is what you are looking for.
Open houses allow potential buyers to visit and look around different properties. These often take place on weekends, and anyone can use the opportunity to tour the home even if they aren’t interested in buying. Here, we look at the best methods to find open houses nearby.
How to find open houses
During COVID, open houses were difficult and virtual tours were more popular. But now, with restrictions dropped, it is easier to visit an open house. But how do you find them? Use the following methods to help you visit open houses.
The multiple listing service
The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is a database real estate agents use to share details of homes being sold. This information is shared between agents to make finding a buyer easier. If you hire an agent to help you find a home, they can use the MLS to assist you.
If you try searching “open house near me,” you should get some promising results. If Google correctly has your location, they should be close by. If you don’t get locations near you, try adding your ZIP code or city to the search.
As well as using Google, websites that show property listings, like Zillow or Realtor.com, or Trulia, can also help.
Contact a real estate agent
Realtors in the local area should be familiar with the market and planned events. A real estate agent should be able to provide information on upcoming open houses and advise you during the buying process.
Open houses are often advertised on social media. Use the hashtag #openhouse with your location to find results. Search for the most recent posts to avoid out-of-date events.
Visit the Neighborhood
A trip to the area you want to live in might show you where there are current open houses. Signs are usually posted in advance to help attract attention to the open house event. This might mean traveling around most of the area so you don’t miss any open houses at the weekend.
Despite this not being the most efficient way to find an open house, it will give you a better understanding of the neighborhood. It might help you narrow down the part of the neighborhood you most want to live in and alert you to any possible problems before you buy.
Planning to tour open houses
If you have found a few open houses you would like to visit, they could happen simultaneously. Saturday and Sunday afternoons are popular times to host open houses, so you might need to do some planning to view all the homes you want to in the available time.
You will need at least half an hour to view the home properly. But if there are many other people there when you visit, things could take longer than you expect.
Visit the homes you are most interested in first, so if you run out of time, you’ll only miss the properties you were less interested in. You should also be ready to ask the real estate agent some questions.
Bring a notebook and write some things about the homes you see. This way, you won’t confuse the properties you visit. You can also take some photos to help you remember features in the homes. Pay attention to the neighborhood, and research the school district and other local factors if you like the home.
What happens during an open house?
While you might need to show identification when you sign in, otherwise, they are fairly relaxed events. You can look around as you like, and some drinks and appetizers could be available.
You might have the chance to ask questions and be shown around by the listing agent, but this is less likely if the event is popular. Most of the time, you will be left to show yourself around the home.
Even though the event seems relaxed, don’t allow yourself to over-share about your finances if you are interested in the home. This could put you at a disadvantage when you negotiate.
When you start looking for a home, an open house can be an excellent opportunity to learn about the local market and what you get for your money. You can use them as part of the education process before you become connected with an agent.
Bill Gassett is a nationally recognized real estate leader who has been helping people buy and sell MetroWest Massachusetts real estate for the past 35 years.