The hunt for a new home can be daunting and often times overwhelming. One of the best ways to start the search is by visiting open houses. With so much information to absorb, knowing what to ask during an open house is a great way to narrow down search parameters and be one step closer to your dream home.
History of the House
Home buyers should always ask why the current owners are moving. Most real estate agents will have a general response that might not be anything too groundbreaking, but it will at least provide an idea about why the house went on the market. Some sellers may have only owned the home for a short period of time and are now reselling, which could be a red flag to potential buyers. This can also lead to asking about how many days the home has been on the market. A buyer can negotiate a lower price for a home that has been available longer compared to others in the area.
Age of Important Equipment
Current updates and renovations, including the age of important items within the house, is a big factor in determining a home’s listing price. Questions to ask could be: How old is the roof or pool equipment? When were the A/C and hot water heater replaced? Does the house have a water softener or reverse osmosis water filtration system? Many of these items are Arizona specific and therefore important information to know prior to submitting an offer.
Location of the Property
Another key detail for Arizona buyers is the home’s geographical location. A North/South facing lot is optimal in the southwest since the sun is always rising and setting over the property instead of coming directly in to the side of a house. A West facing property will mean increased exposure to the sun. Location can affect electricity bills, sale price and even resell ability. This may also help explain why one home in the neighborhood sold for more than another, when they were directly across the street from one another.
No matter the size of your household, living near high ranking schools can drastically increase your home value and is often a telling sign of the type of families living in the area. Ask for a school report of the neighborhood districts. Are they excelling? What is their enrollment? In Maricopa County, there are several nationally ranked public schools that may only accept students within its boundaries. It is also important to note bus service available to students and the location of bus stops.
When it comes to the neighborhood, understanding the market activity report can also provide great insight into the overall satisfaction rating of the homeowners living in the area. The market activity report shows the number of active listings, pending listings and most recent sold listings in the neighborhood. If too many homes are on the market or have been for a significant period of time, this can be a warning sign of an issue with the neighborhood.
Finding out what kind of activities and family events the community holds during the year is another great way to understand the dynamic of the neighborhood. Do they hold block parties, summer movie nights in the park, etc.? These kind of neighborhood activities not only show community involvement but are also a great way of meeting other families as you settle in to your new home.
Written by: Shannon Quagliata, Founder PRE Open House
Shannon Quagliata is an award-winning real estate agent and founder and CEO of PRE Open House, a one stop, one click website and mobile app for home buyers to find, schedule, save and map open houses all from the convenience of their mobile device. The free mobile app is available for download on Android and iOS devices. For more information visit preopenhouse.com or find the app on the App Store under PRE Open House.