Will Visiting Open Houses
Help Me Buy a House?

When you seriously want to buy a house, the practice of visiting open houses is not a bad way to start. But it's doubtful you'll succeed in finding a home this way. Nevertheless, it's a ...

Good Place to Begin

... to learn how to buy a house. Exploring various neighbourhoods and open houses will provide the opportunity to zero in on a specific area or neighbourhood. And seeing lots of homes up close and personal will help clarify your particular wants and needs.

You'll be able to check out various home styles, sizes, floor plans, features and price ranges. You'll get to know what your money may buy. It'll also give you a chance to meet and question more than one real estate agent.

But remember that the attending agent usually represents the seller. If you want to find an agent to represent you, to protect your interests, to guide you through the process, when visiting an open house, tell the agent you already have your own representation. Actually, it would be a good idea anyway to...

Get Busy Finding an Agent

The open house agent may still show you through the home and answer questions. At the very least, you can expect to receive courteous customer service.

It happens, but it's rare for a listing agent to sell their own listing from an open house. However, it's considered a great way to market a home. When a visitor drops in, they may just be nosy neighbours or out for a Sunday drive, seeking decorating ideas or just looking for something to do on their day off. Plus it's human nature for people to be attracted to properties beyond their financial means. Just to see how the so-called one percent live, they'll tour open houses completely out of their price range. It's nice to dream.

An agent sometimes holds an open house simply to appease a seller, to look busy for their seller client. But open houses also provide an agent with an opportunity to meet and hopefully connect with buyer prospects. They hope to convert these visitors into home buyer clients. And if they fail to buy the house on open, they can sell them something else that more suits their wants, needs and financial capabilities. But the biggest problem with the open house method of finding a home is that ...

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It's Very Time Consuming

... and sometimes frustrating. And you may be exposed to pressure sales tactics. After all, agents hold open houses while hoping to sell that property for their seller client.

In an active market, especially for hot listings, during the lag time before it hits Realtor.ca, someone else who was working with an agent viewed it right away because the agent was automatically informed by their search engine when the new listing was uploaded into the local MLS® system. Also, you'll likely miss many opportunities to see homes that sell quickly because they're well updated, well priced, or in a high demand area. And because of a quick sale, the agent simply didn't have time to hold an open house!

Sometimes agents even hear about listings from their peers before they are even posted to the MLS. We call these "pocket listings" and hiring a good local agent can gain you access to these. This is valuable in a hot seller's market.

Not a Good Way to Buy a House

It's a clear case of the early bird catching the worm. If you're relying on open houses, it may be awhile before you finally buy a house.

As I said - visiting open houses is a good way to begin, but if you seriously want to buy a house, find an agent first. And have a buyer agency agreement (sometimes called a Buyer Representation Agreement) in place as early as possible. If you would be interested in an agent recommendation in your area, contact me. I know agents in a lot of different places. And if I don't, I can interview some and find you the right fit. 

It's best to hire an Agent up front.

If you want to buy a house in Canada, REALTOR.ca is a good place to begin. In the USA, visit REALTOR.com.

If you prefer to expand your knowledge even more, check out Ross' book The Happy Agent. Though written to help professional realty agents improve their skills, it will also serve as a great resource for both home buyers and sellers interested in learning more about the buying and selling process - with or without an agent. It contains the sum total of the real estate knowledge, philosophies and techniques that Ross accumulated, practiced and polished during a highly successful 40-year realty career.

This easy-read book, including its numerous home buying tips, will teach you what to look out for, whether city, suburban or rural real estate, what to expect from and ask your agent, how to successfully negotiate an offer and much more. The loads of information within its pages will help you make a thoroughly informed decision. When spending big money, it's smart to make informed choices. A small investment of your time could save you thousands of dollars and a ton of stress. Remember - knowledge is power.

Available virtually everywhere print and e-books are sold.

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