Questions to ask at an Open House

Knowledge is power, so being armed with as much information as possible about a property is going to help you make an informed decision about any potential purchases.

What are the key questions to ask at an open home inspection to get the information you need without coming across as a desperate buyer?

Similarly, you don’t want the agent to think you’re a novice at the real estate game and that they can use your inexperience to their own advantage.

Shannon Davis is a property strategist with Metropole and says buyers should ask as many questions as possible at an open home inspection but he warns it is essential buyers take any verbal details with a grain of salt and only trust what is verified in writing.

“I think buyers should ask many questions but remember the agent works for the seller – all relevant information should be written and verified before making any commitment,” Davis warns.

He says asking the right questions may help a buyer when it comes to negotiating a price.

“For example, if you know the vendor’s motivation for selling and how long it’s been on the market.”

Adam Nobel, a Brisbane sales agent, says there are different questions to be asked depending on whether the property in question is a house or a unit.

With regard to houses, Nobel says the first question should by about how long the property has been on the market, as the response could indicate whether the sellers have endured a lengthy selling campaign with little interest from buyers. It will also help an interested party appreciate what the history of the property might be and therefore the mindset of the sellers.

If a house has been on the market for a long time the sellers might be keen to sell and may take a lower offer as they can’t maintain the costs associated with holding on to the property.

It’s important to ask whether the owner shave bought elsewhere, he says. This may mean they’re keen to move into an already-purchased property and need a quick sale.

Nobel says it’s also vital to know if the property has been for sale with another agent previous to the current campaign and if it has, the buyer should ask why it didn’t sell the first time around.

Another key question is about why the owners are selling. It may be as simple as a change of job or scenery, but there may also be significant reasons such as difficult neighbours or structural issues with the house that need to be addressed.

One question a lot of buyers don’t often think to ask is about whether the furniture, white goods, electrical goods, plant pots etc. are staying with the property. For ease of moving and to avoid packing costs, some sellers are happy to leave some items of furniture with the property. This might be advantageous for the buyer as well.

It’s worth researching the local area to learn if there are any plans for major roads, transport issues or developments going in nearby that might impact the street or the property. Don’t be afraid to ask if there’s anything planned for the street that you should know about such as government housing.

Nobel suggests buyers ask the agent direct questions about their local knowledge and experience in order to determine whether they are able to justify the sales price.

Questions a buyer should ask the real estate agent are:

  • Where is your office?
  • Have you sold a lot in this area?
  • Can you show me some comparable sales within the past six months?

An understanding of where the sellers with regard to price will also be beneficial. Nobel recommends asking what the sellers are hoping to achieve with regards to a selling price.

For example, asking a direct question – “Would the sellers take $300,000 (or whatever your budget is)?” – is a quick way of determining whether you’re even in the ballpark or if you need to look elsewhere.

Other more practical questions might help a buyer to establish what the property itself is like and if there are any issues with the dwelling or the block itself.

Nobel recommends asking questions such as:

Which way is the main living area facing? For buyers wanting to do their own research, Nobel recommends buyers make use of the compass available on most smart phones.
Are there any easements or covenants on the land?
Are there any structural issues?
Does the home have an active termite management plan?
Is there or has there been any past termite damage?

And lastly, don’t hesitate to idea to ask the neighbours some questions too!

Their local knowledge might save you a lot of time and it’ll help you get a feel for the type of people you could be living next door to.


Source:  Australian Property Investment, Heidi Davoren