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5 Questions You Should Ask at an Open House

By Thomas Mitchell

If you are looking to buy a new home, attending open houses can be a great way to scout out potential homes you like. Attending an open house allows you the opportunity to find out information about the neighborhood, see what agent you might want to work with, and to understand the housing stock. Many people aren't sure what to ask when they go to an open house, so here are five questions that will help you gather a lot of helpful information at your next open house.

First you're going to want to ask if the owners have had any offers on the property. The real estate agent may not tell you but if they are desperate to sell the house they may let details about the seller's financial situation slip. Any information you can gain numbers wise is very valuable. If the sellers have rejected any offers find out why, and what went wrong with offer, so you can take notes. Also, if the owners have had the home on the market for a long time it may be reasonable to for you offer a lower bid on the home.

Another thing you will want to find out is if they house has been in escrow at any point. If the house was in escrow it could mean among other things, that it didn't pass a house inspection at some point. No matter what the reason you want to find out why it was in escrow.

A good question to ask at a typical open house is if there are any liens or debts on the property. You don't want to commit to a home and then find out there are surprise construction liens, tax liens, or other types of debt that you will be responsible for. You also don't want to commit and start setting things in motions like a home inspection and such, if the home will not even meet a lenders appraisal. Another thing you might want to ask the owners is why they are selling the home. See if it's a financial issue or something else more problematic. If the area is prone to flash floods or something else, that could be the reason.

One more question you need to ask at an open house is if there are any other costs of ownership besides what you've already discussed. There could be a variety of different fees and taxes that may come along with the property and you don't want to be stuck with extra costs that you didn't know about.

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