Heading into someone's home for a cup of tea you know there are right and wrong ways to act to be polite and respectful, after all, you want to be invited again, and want that person to behave when they come to visit you in return. What about a circumstance where you might never be back, you aren't obligated to host at a later date and you want to get the low down on the property condition?
It can be a little more complicated when it comes to the right and wrong, polite and respectful behaviour in the case of an open for inspection.
Open houses are an important part of property hunting and determining the worth of your potential new home is essential for the future of your investment, both short and long term.
Usually, the vendor is not present during an open, to help take the emotion out of the equation it's best if only the estate agent is on hand to meet and greet and answer any questions. It's important though not to assume that means the home is yours to do as you please, not only is it bad manners but you never know if those other people walking through are in fact friends or family members of the owner.
Here is the low down of how you can get to the bottom of potential trouble without stepping on anyone's toes.
Leave your details if asked
It's quite common for the representing agent to have a logbook at the door as part of the meet and greet. While it's not common, there have been instances of theft during open walkthroughs so the logbook is for the security of the owner as well as getting a snapshot of open interest. If asked, show ID to prove your identity and fill in your details accurately. If you do not wish the agent to contact you for a follow-up call or email, simply tell them this at the time.
Get the facts from the right source
Research is all-important before you commit to a property purchase. It's up to you to ask the representing agent questions that will reveal the home's history and help you determine a fair price. Your research isn't and shouldn't be limited to the open time either, you can ask questions before and after your inspection by phoning or visiting the real estate office.
Common background questions to help determine property value
-Why are the current owners putting the home up for sale?
-Have there been any modifications or renovations made?
-Are there any current offers for the property?
-How long has the property been on the market?
-Are there any future developments planned nearby?
-What are the known issues with the land, property or the neighbouring properties?
Open, close and turn on to test briefly
You want to know how deep the cupboards are, or if the garage door is smooth on its runners, and if the pressure on the tap is sound, you can manage all these things and many more open and close tasks with quick efficiency. It should take only seconds. There is no need to poke around in clothes and drawers, check the brand of the towels in the linen press or note the types of cereal in the pantry.
Be polite about using a tape measure
Use a tape measure only when necessary, for example when a detailed floor plan hasn't been provided or you feel the dimensions given in the marketing material is off. Ask the estate agent if the measurements are true and politely state that you'd like to measure to be sure. Be mindful of other people walking through the room at the time.
Ask permission before taking photos or videos
It's a simple request that probably will get a green light but to display good manners just check with the estate agent before you start snapping.
Get a feel for the home but be kind to the furniture
Your future purchase is more than just bricks and mortar, you will be buying a home you want to feel comfortable in. Keeping in mind that the furniture usually isn't part of the deal, it's okay to get yourself comfortable and settle in to get a read of the room, that simply means sitting on the sofa, not reclining in the easy chair, jumping on the beds, putting your feet on the coffee table or moving the dining set to the other side of the room. A large part of the buying experience is using your imagination to place your possessions and yourself in the picture.
Leave the mess outside
While you don't need to dress in your business best to have a look around you do need to be mindful of what you bring with you. Dirty shoes should be cleaned before you enter or left at the door while you continue in socks. If your kids have just come from a muddy sports field have them play in the garden until you are done. Drinks and food are not a good call as they can be dropped and cause spills or stains. Bare feet also bring it in so be sure to wear sensible footwear, that includes properties where you might have just completed a stroll on the beach, dust off the sand and put your shoes on before you enter.
Keep your opinions to yourself
If you spot something amiss there is no need to broadcast it to the world. Wait until after the inspection to contact the estate agent and go over your concerns and what impact they have for you. Keep in mind that no property is ever perfect and flaws should be expected, either through a fault or just not matching your taste.
If you find faults in the home that you believe affect the home value be sure to let your conveyancer know as well as the real estate agent so they can help you determine your next move and make sure any negotiations your make with the property owner are in writing as part of the contract.