Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, February 14, 2020

How to make the most of open house weekend

It will soon be peak season again for home sales in the Chattanooga area, and one of the most exciting steps in the home buying process is walking through the house you might live in one day.

Whether it’s a new or newly renovated home, touring a property in person will help you with your purchasing decision.

Sellers and real estate agents often allow potential buyers to explore homes to generate interest through an open house. Potential buyers (or curious neighbors) can walk around the property and ask detailed questions during this time.

If you’re ready to attend an open house and want to make the most out of your visit, consider the following tips.

Meet the listing agent

Introduce yourself to the listing agent on duty and let them know about your interest in the home. The agent will provide his or her contact information, literature about the home and offer to show you the unique features. Also fill in the sign-in sheet if available so the agent has your information.

Ask specific questions

You can learn details of the homes that are not listed online or in marketing materials by asking the agent the right questions. Ask if the home price has changed, how long the property has been on the market and what offers have been made to purchase it.

If the home price has dropped several times or has been on the market for a significant amount of time, it could be a sign there are problems with it. You might have room for price negotiation, depending on how many offers have been made on the house.

Look for potential damage

Before purchasing, it’s best practice to get a home inspection. In fact, if you’re financing, the lender will require it. But before you get to that point, an open house is the perfect opportunity to spot problems.

Warped flooring or a musty smell can be a sign of previous water damage or flooding. Black spots near kitchen and bathroom sinks could indicate mold. The home could have foundation problems if you notice cracks in the ceiling or drywall. Also be on the lookout for oddly placed furniture that might be hiding something.

Heed these red flags to avoid significant home repairs in the future.

Beware unfinished construction

Sometimes a seller runs out of money to finish a home improvement project. If you see exposed wires or a stack of material in a corner of a room, ask the seller about it. This could also be a sign that a contractor had issues finishing a project due to structural issues.

Either way, it’s important to understand the underlying issue, so you can be aware of what you might be dealing with. Some lenders might be unwilling to loan money if the house has unfinished construction.

Explore the neighborhood

After viewing the property, walk and drive around the neighborhood. Any new development happening? How is the curb appeal of the nearby residents? If you notice several “for sale” signs on the same block as the house in which you’re interested, it might be an underlying neighborhood issue.

If you’re really interested in the home, drive by at different times on different days to gauge noise levels and traffic patterns.

To consult with a new home developer or Realtor, visit the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga online membership directory at HBAGC.net.