If you’ve ever attended an open house, you’ll know that the Realtor hosting it will often ask you quite a few questions. While some people will prefer to not be bothered, there is a reason for these questions and even if you’re already represented by an agent or are just window shopping, you can assist the agent by answering those questions. They’re there to help you if you have questions as well – they can tell you about the house, the neighborhood, local inventory of homes, and prices. So come on in, say hello, and grab yourself a cookie or two – the open house is a great way for you to see the home and ask some questions, just remember, we might have a few for you as well.
What brought you in today? Other than a friendly greeting, this is a question that agents use to gauge the effectiveness of their marketing. If the home was advertised online or in a newspaper, this is a great way to see what results these sources are getting for the agents so they can fine tune their marketing. It also helps the host agent determine your level of interest – are you just window shopping or are you on an active house hunt? The agent wants to get a better understanding of their marketing and what’s effective, so let them know what your interest level is so that can better focus it in the future.
Will you sign in? The sign in sheet or registration card serves many purposes for an agent. First and foremost, it helps them to remember you and reach out to you for follow up after the fact. If you had questions about the property, they can follow up after the open house with more detailed answers. If you didn’t quite fall in love with that home, the agent can still reach out and offer to show you other homes that might be a better match. Second, the registry helps the seller to know how many people have come through their home. As you can imagine, it can be a bit intimidating to have strangers walking through your personal spaces, criticizing or fawning over your home and many sellers are granted a bit of peace of mind when they know there is a log or registry. And last, but certainly highly important, it’s about safety. There have been numerous stories in the news about agents who are attacked at open houses. Think about it – a lone person (often female) sitting alone in a property waiting for the strangers they’ve invited to arrive. If someone hesitates to sign in to the event, this can signal warning bells to the agent and heighten their alertness from the personal safety standpoint.
Are you working with an agent? Many times buyers begin their home search processes by perusing homes on their own, much like they’re doing right now at this open house. Not having an agent could be an indicator that you are early in the home search process. And, let’s face it, real estate is a business. If you don’t already have an agent, the host agent might look to find a way to help you and become your agent. If you do already have an agent, it is important to be up front and clear about this fact as there are special rules about what information can be shared or advice given to a client of another agent and agents look to respect those pre-existing relationships – it’s not just common courtesy, but it’s the law and part of the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics. Every consumer, no matter if they are a client of another broker or not, is to be treated honestly, fairly, and told material facts and details about a home, but advice, guidance, and confidentiality are all tenements of a more official relationship. If you fall in love with the home you see without your agent present, the hosting agent will likely reach out to your agent to better facilitate an offer.
Have you been prequalified for a loan? Financing is a huge component of a home sale and agents ask this question to gauge a visitors level of seriousness about the home buying process. Someone who has already taken the time to meet with a lender is likely someone who is ready to pull the trigger when they find the right home, whereas someone who hasn’t taken that step yet may be a bit farther out in their search or just starting and not familiar with the process. These clues help an agent provide the best level of service to you.
What stands out to you about this house? This question works in two ways. The first – selling the house. If there is a feature you absolutely love, agents will want to make sure to provide you with all of the details and make it shine. Something you don’t love so much? They are also great at pointing out ways to overcome or improve that feature to be more to your liking. The second purpose is that they are looking for feedback to present to the sellers. How is it priced? Is there something about the home that is really distracting to buyers? Is there a feature that buyers are in love with? They gather this feedback and work with the owner to come up with a plan to adjust their marketing strategy and hopefully generate an offer and sale sooner for the owner.
Where are you living now? You can tell a lot about a person by where they live. It is likely close to work or schools or family. The type of neighborhood a person lives in now can determine what they want for the future. For example, if it is in a gated community with tons of amenities, they may be looking for those same features in their next area. And often family dynamics impact the desire to move. If someone is living in a starter home but now has three kids, chances are they are looking to go bigger. If an elderly family member needs to move in for better care, chances are they may be looking to get rid of the stairs. Or living with in-laws can create a sense of urgency like you wouldn’t believe. This question actually opens the door for a lot of other conversations that help an agent start to build a relationship with you and better understand your needs in the home buying process.