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Questions You Should Ask at an Open House

By Thomas Mitchell

If you are looking to buy a new home, an open house is a great opportunity to check out a potential home and find out some details about the property and the neighborhood, in an open and obligation-free environment. If you've never been to an open house before you might not know what questions to ask -- in general, you want to gather the sort of information that will better inform you about the home and put you in a position to make a reasonable and competitive bid.

A good question to start off with is if they owners have had any offers on the property. If you have any competition for the house, you want to know. Also ask if the sellers have rejected any offers as well, and why, so that you can see what went wrong and avoid the mistake on your offer. In addition, ask them how long the property has been on the market, if it's been sitting for awhile you might be able to offer a lower bid on the home. Find out if the price has been reduced as well, and if so, when.

Another good idea is to ask if the house has been in escrow at any point. If it was in escrow and did not sell for some reason you will want to find out what it is. Ask if there has been any house inspections performed on the property as well, in case that is the reason it did not sell. You can also just directly ask why the owners are selling this house. The agent might not tell you anything or they might just give you some details if they are desperate to sell the property. The owners might just be moving soon, or they might be under some sort of financial pressure. Any information you can gather will help you formulate your offer though.

Make sure to ask the owners if there are any liens on the property as well. You do not want to encounter any surprise tax liens, construction liens or other debts after you buy the house. You should also find out if the home is going to meet a lender's appraisal, so you don't get stuck after you're already setting up inspections and such. A final question to ask is if there are going to be any other costs of ownership. There could be any number of different taxes and or fees you may have to pay depending on where the property is. Make sure you know everything you'll have to spend money on before you buy.

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