How to Tour an Open House in Bucks County Like a Pro

how to tour an open house in Bucks County like a pro

Taking a look around what could be your future home is an incredibly exciting experience and open houses are one of the best ways to view multiple properties in a short amount of time before you find the right one for you.

But with the current competitive housing market, you need to put yourself in the best position possible so that, when you find the right home, you’re the strongest offer on the table. Being well-prepared to make immediate, informed decisions, is one of the smartest ways to approach any home open house, so here are a few homebuying tips that you can follow as you start this process.


Before the Open House

It can be tempting to rush out to every open house in your town when you decide you want to buy a home, but preparation is key to making this process successful. From a practical perspective, you should aim to dress comfortably because most of your open house tours will involve plenty of walking and inspecting various areas in the property.

Bring a notebook with you, or use a note-taking app on your smartphone, to note down any ideas, questions, or concerns you have in the moment so that you can review these with a clear mind later on. Bringing a tape measure with you can be particularly helpful if you’re trying to determine room dimensions—this is especially good if you’re keeping large pieces of furniture and you want to make sure they fit in the space!

You should also think about getting a mortgage preapproval in place before you begin touring homes. This not only helps you get your mortgage approved faster when you’re ready to start applying for a home loan, but it also shows sellers and their agents that you’re a serious, prepared buyer who, if you do make an offer, can get moving on the paperwork quickly.

Before you get to the open house itself, it’s also important to remember that you’re about to walk into someone’s home. Respect their space by leaving small children and pets at home, particularly on this first look around the house. This not only is more respectful towards the owners, but it also means you can be fully focused on what you’re there to do.

At many open houses, you’ll be asked to sign in so that the agent and owners know the details of who’s been to the open house. Remember not to take photos without asking permission first, to show respect for the seller’s privacy.

Take notes during your open house tour.


During the Open House

Once you’re at the open house, it’s important to look beyond the surface level. Many homes will be strategically staged for the open house with various pieces of furniture and decorations. You need to be more focused on the overall size of the space and if that will work for your needs. You should also think about whether the home’s layout structurally and functionally is a good fit for your family.

Don’t be swayed by the outward aesthetics one way or the other—remember that furniture will be gone by the time you move in and any wall is paintable! Take detailed notes as you walk around about positive attributes and potential issues so that you can reassess once you leave the home and not forget anything important. This is especially crucial if you’re visiting several open houses on the same day.

There are several specific areas to check when you’re at an open house, including:

  • The condition of appliances that will be staying in the house
  • Any signs of leaks or water damage in bathrooms, kitchens and utility areas
  • Any significant cracks in ceilings or walls
  • The overall amount of space in the home — this is why taking a tape measure can be helpful.

The biggest red flags to look for are those that could indicate underlying problems. For instance, a strong scent of air freshener could be hiding mold or mildew smells, and unusual furniture staging could suggest damage being hidden. Where possible, check in key areas like this for possible signs of bigger issues.


Questions to Ask

Come up with a list of questions that you want to know about both the property and general area before you attend any open house. Not only does this keep you more organized, but it means you won’t be leaving without all of your most important questions answered.

Important points to cover should include questions about the reasons the home is for sale, questions about the history and maintenance of the property, along with any information about amenities and the neighborhood if you’re not familiar with the area. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • How long has the property been on the market?
  • Have there been any offers made?
  • What’s the ideal timeline for the seller to close?
  • Are there any contingencies the seller wants or will/won’t accept?
  • Are there any property disclosures to be aware of (especially if the home was built before 1978)?
  • Is the home in a FEMA flood zone?
  • When was the roof last replaced?
  • Have the sellers kept pets or smoked in the home?
  • How much are utilities typically each month/quarter?
  • Is there a homeowners association (HOA)? If so, how much is it and what restrictions are there?
  • Are there any shops, restaurants, or other amenities nearby?
  • What are the local schools like?
  • What’s the typical crime rate for the neighborhood?


After the Open House

When you’ve had time to review and reflect on the property, you may be ready to start your mortgage loan application and make an offer on the home. But first, you should go over all of the notes you’ve made at the open house and discuss which properties are your top choices.

You may want to consult with your realtor to gain additional insights into the location or anything about the property that you still have questions about. If you’re sure you’ve found the right home for you, talk to them about what the potential next steps are.

Consider and discuss your priorities, the things you liked, and the things you didn't like, about the house you toured.


Making an Offer

Before you decide to formally make an offer, think about what your budget is, the state of the current housing market, and the condition of the home that you toured on the open house. All of this will factor into how much you should make as your initial offer and if you have room to negotiate with the sellers.

A realtor can guide you through this process, especially as a first time buyer, and help you craft a competitive offer, along with negotiating on your behalf with the sellers and their agent. If you’re able to move quickly, make sure your agent passes this information along as that could be a deciding factor between you and another similar offer.

Make sure you’re aware of any financial or inspection contingencies on either side of the agreement before you sign on the dotted line once you do have an offer accepted.


Finance Your Dream Home with The First National Bank and Trust of Newtown

It’s fun touring houses that one day could be yours, but you also need to approach open houses with a critical eye and an open mind. Be diligent when touring homes and make sure all of your questions are answered before you make an offer.

When you’re ready to start looking at home loans in Bucks County, The First National Bank and Trust Company of Newtown is here to help you. Our mortgage lenders will work with you to determine the best loan for your situation, along with helping you come up with a total loan amount that comfortably fits within your budget. Contact us today to get started.