Top of the Morning, March 2, 2014

Top of the Morning, March 2, 2014

I look at March as the start of baseball season. My wife sees it as the start of open house season.

That's why the first section she'll grab from today's paper is H. Then she'll head out the door — weather permitting — at 2 p.m. even though we're not looking to move (as far as I know).

"There are all kinds of reasons people go to an open house," Steve Fox said. "Some just go to see what's in the neighbor's house."

A Fisher High and UI grad, Fox is in his 19th year as a real estate agent. Before the snow melts and his job gets hectic — "Once there's a hint of warm air, it's on" — we caught up to Fox for a list of Do's and Don'ts when it comes to open-house season:

Do ...

— Have a game plan. If you are giving up an hour on a Sunday, you might as well set aside the entire afternoon. Research properties you want to see and schedule your day as you hit up open houses. Allow yourself enough time to see each home and travel to the next one.

— If you are already working with an agent, pass on this information to the agent hosting the open house. The easiest way is to walk in with your agent's card in hand. Just give it to the hosting agent and say "This is my agent."

— You might think the agent doesn't want you to come to the open house if you are a neighbor. Actually, the agent would love to show the home and get your feedback. Neighbors are a great source of information. You might have a friend or coworker who could be interested in the home.

Don't ...

— The seller is typically not home during an open house, partly to make prospective buyers feel more comfortable asking pointed questions. But that does not give you free rein to open drawers and cabinets. If you come across a closed door, don't open it without checking first with the agent.

— If you have critical remarks about the home, be sure the seller doesn't happen to be there. Nobody wants to hear that they have bad taste. On the other hand, the agent will appreciate your feedback.

— Remember, the agent works for the seller, so you don't want to share information that could compromise your bargaining position. Think Miranda Rights: anything you say can and will be used against you in a potential negotiation.

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