This post is a light hearted look at your average open house in San Carlos. While some of the information below may seem blatantly obvious, with increased competition this spring in San Carlos every detail could matter.
The San Carlos Market
All signs are pointing toward an early spring market for San Carlos. As mentioned in previous blog posts, there is a backlog of demand that seems to be pushing through the gate early. 343 De Anza, 250 Ruby, 236 Oakview, 218 Exeter, 15 Whitman, 1800 Howard, 500 Prospect, 11 Willow Glen Way, 1043 Sylvan and 309 Old County all went pending in the last 7 days. One of the primary reasons for this early surge is the fear of rising interest rates. Interest rates have slowly crept up in 8 of the last 10 weeks. The prevailing thought among most lenders is that they will continue a very steady climb. Therefore, there is a financial incentive to purchase early in 2011. There is also a feeling among many buyers that the bottom of the market may have just passed us by. The most recent numbers in my 2011 San Carlos Real Estate Report support this statement. A copy of that report can be downloaded by clicking here.
The Inside Track on Open Houses
With the expected steady demand in San Carlos this spring, most open houses will be well attended. I believe that competition for some areas will be greater than we have seen in the past few years. If you find yourself in a possible competitive situation for a home, remember that every detail matters, including you. Most realtors that regularly have listings in San Carlos are very good at what they do. They are primarily trying to do two things: They are (1) looking to obtain the highest purchase price for their client, and (2) looking for certainty of close….in other words what offer is going to offer the least amount of bumps along the way. Often times the “bumps along the way” have everything to do with the buyers and the buyers’ agent, assuming that everything as been adequately disclosed.
As a listing agent, you can usually tell who has sincere interest in your open house, and who does not. If there is a buyer who appears to have interest, as an agent, you are trying to gauge (a) their interest level, and (b) how reasonable they would be if they were to enter into a contract with your client. As a seller, you would want the answer to both of these questions, especially with competing offers. With this in mind, here is a list of things to do and not do at open houses if you are seriously considering the property:
The Do List
Ask Questions. Most good agents will know the answer to any question pertaining to the property off the top of their head. Asking questions indicates that you have at least some interest and are trying to do your homework prior to making a decision about whether to continue pursing the property.
Take Your Time. Most buyers will walk through a house too quickly. If you think the house may be of interest to you, look beyond the aesthetics. Pay attention to possible improvements, spacing, room sizes, lighting, and neighborhood conditions.
Know the Comps. Your agent should supply you with a list of recently sold homes so that you can compare the property you are viewing with other recently sold properties.
The Don’t List
(You would think many of these would be obvious…..trust me, they happen all the time)
Discuss Price. Do not do this for several reasons. Do not give the listing agent or anyone else at the open house your initial thoughts on price. You may be unintentionally pricing yourself out of the house. It’s certainly okay to express interest, but discussing a price or even discussing whether a price is competitive or high, can only work against you.
Contract History. Do not discuss other homes that you have had in contract and subsequently backed out of purchasing. You would think this goes without saying, but I hear it often. Whether the decision to back out of the contract was legitimate, or not, it is not something you need to discuss because it can only hurt your chances if you decide to pursue the property.
Insult the property. You would think this would be an obvious one, but it happens. I think some buyers believe if they go through the property talking about everything that is wrong with the house within an earshot of the agent, the agent and others will start to believe it. This is not a good idea for several reasons. First and foremost, the house your are touring is someone’s home. Second, if you do decide to submit an offer I can guarantee that agent is going to let the seller know about your sentiments on the property. If there happens to be competition on the property, it could definitely hurt your chances.
Outside vs. Inside. I say this one with a smile on my face, but when you leave an open house, don’t assume that people inside the house suddenly can’t hear you talking on the front porch or driveway. I would avoid discussing any of the above until you are comfortably out of earshot.
Understand Who Is Holding The House Open
If you have questions at an open house, just exactly who is holding the house open for the sellers can make a difference. The first possibility would be the listing agent. The second possibility would be a paid assistant of the listing agent. These people are not trying to sell you anything. Rather they are there to answer your questions and offer helpful information about the property. The third possibility, and it’s quite common in San Carlos, is that the house may be held open by another realtor who is not a paid assistant of the listing agent. Sometimes, realtors looking to meet prospective buyers will volunteer to hold open a house for a realtor who is unable to hold open their own listing. Understanding the relationship of the person holding the house open will help you put the information you receive into context.
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