How Do Open Houses Work?


How does it all work? A seller (either by themselves or via their listing agent) would get the ball rolling by hosting an open house. An open house is exactly what it sounds like! It’s an event, typically held for a few hours in the afternoon on the weekend, where the public can come in and check out a specific house that is for sale. It’s a great way to get up close and personal with the property, meet the selling agent (or the seller themselves, if it’s a private sale) and see if it’s something that fits your taste.

The great thing about open houses is that you don’t need to be with a realtor to go see one. You can either go by yourself, or if you are represented by a realtor, you can go along with them. Oftentimes, a realtor working with buyers would suggest certain open houses if they fit their house-hunting criteria.


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Why Go to Open Houses?


Why even go to an open house in the first place? There are lots of reasons to! It’s always better to see things in person versus just a brief glimpse online. It’s one of those “in practice” versus “on paper” philosophies. The main reason is that you simply cannot encompass every single thing about the house in just a quick description with a few pictures (which you typically see on listings). Not that there is anything wrong with browsing listings, but once you’ve narrowed down a few properties that you enjoy, it’s always best to go see them in person because there is lots of information you need to take in.


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Know Your Budget


For example, pricing is one of the most important topics for purchasing a home. How do you know what fits in your budget? People typically have a plan or an idea, but it does make a great difference when you go out and actually see what those homes look like. A lot of buyers can describe hypothetically what kind of home they would want, and can attach a price range that they can afford to it. However, the question of what is actually available remains unanswered until you actually go out to shop around. It’s always a good idea to start with a plan, but you shouldn’t rely solely on the theoretical. At the end of the day, you will need to correlate your budget to what is actually available on the market.

Now, this is not to discourage buyers, because there are always a great number of opportunities out there and you will surely be surprised to see what you find. However, to actually reach those opportunities, you need to look beyond the computer screen and go in person. “In theory” is a good place to start, but real life application is essential to the entire process. That is to say, shopping around at a few open houses is the best way to figure out what your desired budget is and what you should be aiming for as a buyer.

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Check Out the Market


Part of establishing your own personal budget has to do with figuring out what the market has to say. This is especially so if you are looking for properties in specific neighbourhoods. One of the best ways to see the demand for a property is to see who shows up at the open house. Is there a crowd of eager buyers shopping around when you arrive? Or is it a bit on the quiet side? This is how you can tell how in demand that specific home may be. It tells you a lot about the demand in the market as well as how accurately the price was set.

You can then take this information and use it when you place your offer. Are you up against a lot of people or is it fairly competition-free? Being able to know this answer gives you a great advantage as a buyer and you can only tell if you show up there yourself. Even if you don’t want to purchase the specific property you’re seeing, you can still use the information as a benchmark. If you are eyeing something similar or something in the same neighbourhood, you can draw parallels and set your budget accordingly. A consumer who is aware always gets the best deal!


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Learn About Your Own Desires


Another important aspect is learning about your own needs and wants. At the end of the day buying a home is one of the most important purchases we all make in our lifetimes, so it has every reason to be a well informed decision. Aside from pricing and market knowledge, you can’t avoid factoring in your own preferences. Where do you hope to see yourself? What kind of home do you most desire? These are questions which might not be easy to answer right away.

A lot of the time you can’t quite make a decision until you see it for yourself in person. This is going back to the idea that you simply can’t encompass all of the information in a brief listing description or a few pictures. There is a great amount of detail to take in and to process, and truly nothing beats just being there. This is because you can see how the property makes you feel. At the end of the day, a home needs to feel right and it needs to make you feel good about your purchase. That is something that cannot be communicated through even the best pictures or videos.

At the same time, browsing in person lets you see the good as well as the bad. Let’s be realistic, there is no such thing as “perfect”. Every property out there will have things that are great about it….and every one of them will also come with a few compromises. This is by no means a reason to stress as it’s all part of the process. However, viewing something yourself is the only true way to see what you are willing to compromise on and to what extent.


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