Asking questions at an open house

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March 16, 2012

Consumers who are buying a home may spend a great deal of time visiting open houses and working with a real estate agent to find the right home for them. An open house is one of the greatest opportunities buyers have to look around, visualize themselves living in the house and, most importantly, ask questions about the property.

However, it can be difficult for first-time homebuyers to know which questions to ask a real estate agent. While questions about the actual layout and physical characteristics of a home are important, there are a few other common questions potential buyers may want to ask before making their decision.

Pricing the property

When buyers show up to a home staging, they will likely have a fairly good idea of the seller's asking price. However, the price of the home and the bid a buyer puts in may change for several reasons, and asking a number of questions may give potential buyers more insight into how much they might really pay for a home. For example, buyers may want to inquire about how many other bids a seller has received. If the current owner has received a great deal of interest in the property, it is likely that he or she may increase the asking price, according to MSN Real Estate.

In addition, buyers should also find out how long the house has been on the market and why the owners are selling. If the home has been up for sale for a long period of time, buyers may have more room for negotiation on the final price. The same is true when it comes to the reason owners are selling the home. The answer to this question may give buyers more insight into final costs and closing timelines. Keep in mind that real estate agents are not required to explain why owners are selling the property and may decline to answer.

Lastly, buyers should find out whether there are any liens on the property that may impact the buying and closing process.

Additional homeownership costs

It's easy to overlook additional costs when purchasing a home, but it's important to ask about any fees or dues that may come with certain properties. For example, adults looking for homes in planned communities may find that they need to pay association dues, additional taxes and other fees. Knowing about neighborhood costs may play a role in a buyer's final decision to purchase the home or pass on the offer.