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What should I look for at an open home? 🏠 FIRST HOME QUESTIONS 🤷‍♀

November 29, 2020

Hey Samara,

Congrats on your first day of open homes… I bet you’re enjoying that coffee! You know what? Most first time buyers are in your same situation. They are super excited, they’ve got a list of properties that look perfect on paper, and they’re ready to find their dream home.

The open home is where you see how much what’s ‘perfect on paper’ matched perfect in real life. And here’s a quick tip from someone who’s been in this business for awhile—there is no ‘perfect’.

What you’re looking for is something you can see yourself happily living in. And you’ll probably find quite a few that meet that criteria.

The key to getting the most out of your open home comes down to a few things

  • Your gut
  • You predefined list of needs
  • The questions you ask
Grahame O'Brien, Principal
Grahame O'Brien, Principal

Why your gut feeling counts at an open home

“I’m not feeling it.” You have no idea how many times I have heard that sentence from potential buyers. Hint—it’s a lot. And if you’re watching The Block at the moment, “I’m not feeling it” equates to Shayna’s “I’m not having an emotional connection with this home.”

And on the other spectrum, there is a butterflies-in-the-stomach kind of excitement when you walk into a home and that emotional connection hits you.

There are two ways to work out why some homes do it for you and others don’t.

  1. Have someone else ask you why. You’d be surprised what comes out of your mouth when you have to verbally answer that question. “The rooms feel pokey” or “it’s boring” or “I just love that garden.”
  2. Look for patterns. You’ll see a common thread in the houses that are good on paper but ‘meh’ in person or the ones that consistently get your blood pumping. For a friend of mine, it came down to the age of the property. When she walked into something built a few decades ago, she immediately got excited about its ‘potential’ and went around listing all the things she could do with the place. When she walked into an already renovated property, there was nothing left for her to do and wasn’t interested.

If your gut is feeling good at an exhibition—sometimes you just walk in and know­—don’t let the fact that it doesn’t tick every box deter you. You’re unlikely to find something that meets every criteria so if you walk in and can see yourself cooking in that kitchen, or having drinks on the deck even though the bedroom is small, put in an offer.

Know your must-haves in a new home

You already know how many bedrooms and bathrooms there are and whether or not it’s close to your work or in the right school zone. You’ll know if it has gas cooking or somewhere to store your motorbike.

What you need for an open home is a list of things that aren’t so obvious from the property ad. Your example of needing space for cat litter trays is perfect. For a lot of people, it’s secure fencing for their dog, space for their extra-large fridge or window with a good view for their work-from-home office. Live your life as normal for a week, but take notes about the pain points in your current place and what works.

What questions should you ask at an open home?

The agent should know everything there is to know about the property and about the local area, so you should feel free to ask them anything. Here are my suggestions.

About the sale

  • Can you give me a price guide for what you think the home would sell for?
  • Have there been any offers? What would I need to offer to beat that? (Keep in mind an agent is not allowed to reveal current offers. They can only give you an indication).
  • How many contracts have been requested?
  • What will be your process for taking offers? Will I get a chance to change my offer?
  • Why are the owners selling? How long has the property been on the market?
  • Are there any considerations outside of price that could make my offer more appealing to the seller?
  • When would the seller prefer to settle?

The property

  • Is there anything you need to disclose about the property?
  • Can I have a copy of the building and inspection report?
  • Are there any development applications for this street/suburb?
  • Has the seller made any modifications or renovations? If so, did they complete them by themselves?
  • What are the key amenities nearby?

 The strata (if applicable)

  • What are the strata levies?
  • Are there any special levies in place? What are they saving for?
  • What is the balance of the sinking fund?
  • What is the process for having a pet? Is the strata welcoming of pets?
  • Can I have a copy of the default rules for the development?
  • Can I have a copy of the s119 certificate and previous meeting minutes (see our article about understanding strata documents)

Hopefully these tips help. Good luck with the buying process!

  • Your gut feeling counts. Look for patterns in what it’s telling you
  • Have a list of must-haves that can’t been seen in the property ad
  • Ask about the sale itself as well as the property
See the rest of her questions

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