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Open House Guide for Buyers and Sellers

Featuring Guest Authors: Juan Sanchez, Loan Officer and Alicia Sanchez, Realtor

Attending an Open House

An open house is an early step of the home buying or home selling process that paves the way toward a smooth closing. An open house is an opportunity for buyers to decide on their preferences and choose a home that checks off all the items on their dream home list. As for sellers, an open house is your home’s time to shine. Listing your house on the market while offering an open house allows potential buyers to see the beauty of your home and potentially make a desirable offer.

There are several takeaways for both sides of an open house, making it important to know how each side operates in case you are in the buyer or seller’s shoes. By educating yourself on the process, you can help yourself become an empowered buyer or seller as you continue on your real estate journey. Alleviate the stress of buying or selling with our open house guide.

How Does a Seller Prepare for an Open House?

As a seller, one should take the perspective of a neutral third party to get the highest and best offer on your listed home. Change your mindset and put aside all emotional attachment to your home. It will not be yours for much longer since it’s on the market! Trust that your realtor is diligently working for you to meet your goal of the highest and best offer.

Coordinate with your realtor to ensure the home presents itself in the best way possible. A successful open house can be achieved by cleaning up and decluttering your home. Maybe even start packing up to get a head start on your soon-to-be move. This will help the buyer imagine themselves in that home. Your realtor typically lets your neighbors know about the open house to bring in more offers.

Another great way to present the home you’re selling is to highlight the best features! A great realtor will give you guidance in highlighting these valuable aspects. Remember that presentation on the day of an open house is everything! Consider showcasing a large yard, a spacious living room, or a great kitchen that looks better in bright light. Above all, ensure that the home is clean and has no questionable smells or wear and tear. Keep in mind that lighting is also very important! If your walls and other items are long overdue for a repaint, renovate where needed before the big day.

Alicia’s Best Real Estate Questions to Ask

The best real estate questions to ask during an open house depends on the home itself. We recommend buyers to check out the location beforehand and determine if it’s near a school, busy area, or interstate. Those details will bring about questions that affect the quality of living. The most common questions are not always the best questions, so start by researching the area where the open house is.

An example of what I mean is demonstrated by the following: If you are near a high school, what is the traffic flow during and after school hours? Is there a stadium where games and activities are held at night; if so, how does that affect this area? What is the proximity of the schools to the residence is it walking distance and is that what you desire?

The best questions a potential buyer should ask when considering the purchase of a property are the following:

(Ask themselves) What is the purpose of this residential purchase for me? Do I want to rent it, live in it, raise a family, and work from home? This allows the buyer to be realistic in their expectations.

What are the best features of this home and why? The realtor has met the neighbors, researched the neighborhood and surrounding area, and may have some additional knowledge about the home that makes it unique.

How much interest has this property generated during the listing and showing process? Asking this question will give the buyer a realistic understanding of the desirability of the property and allow them to make a competitive offer.

Juan’s Best Mortgage Questions to Ask

Looking for a new home can be exciting and at the same time stressful. There are so many factors that go into making one of the biggest decisions for you and your family, and therefore it is not taken lightly. The exceptional open house experience can be had with some upfront planning.

It is a good idea to embark on this journey by having your questions answered ahead of time:

What is this going to cost me? Your monthly payment will consist of principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. There may also be mortgage insurance (down if your down payment will be less than 20%) which is required to protect the banks in the event of defaulting on the loan. If you are buying a house or condo that has monthly homeowner’s association (HOA) fees, this should also be factored in.

What is my mortgage rate going to be? As a loan officer, it is my responsibility to determine and disclose what the mortgage interest rate will be. The rate will be determined by the strength of your file and current market trends. The strength of your file is broken down into purchase price, assets, income, and liabilities. This rate will fluctuate daily (hourly in some cases); therefore, we will need to get you pre-approved to give you an accurate interest rate.

What will I need to be pre-approved? 

  • Last 2 years Tax Returns
  • Last 2 years W2s
  • Most recent 30 days paystubs
  • 2 months most recent asset statements for funds you will use towards the transaction (including a 401k or retirement account)
  • Copy of your current Driver License
  • Additional documentation may be requested on a case-by-case scenario

Can I Make an Offer at an Open House?

For your offer to be taken seriously, it is highly recommended for you to be pre-approved with a full credit approval from underwriting. Most realtors prefer buyers who are already pre-approved before going to open houses so they can provide a copy of the pre-approval letter along with any offers they submit. The current market is sizzling hot for sellers and can be challenging for buyers. Homes are averaging less than a month on the market with multiple offers being made. RWM Home Loans offers a 17-Day Pre-Flight program which reinforces to the listing agent and the seller that you will close within 17 days from going into escrow. You will be eligible for the 17 Day Pre-Flight program after you provide all of your documentation upfront and an underwriter issues a pre-approval certificate.

Juan’s Success Story on Buying Up

Recently one of the families we helped leveraged the equity in their home to buy up and right-size into their new home.  They listed their home for $360K and ended up getting $392K. This was a pleasant surprise because they had originally estimated the value to be $330K, but a recent sale in the neighborhood drove the price up.

At the same time, the joy of being able to sell high turned into the stress of having to pay more for the house that they wanted. In the end, they were able to win out by using RWM Home Loans 17-Day Pre-Flight program. I worked with their listing agent who then turned around and helped them with their search for a new house. We had a fully underwritten pre-approval certificate and a strategy for a potential appraisal gap which ultimately won them the home.

Increasing Your Buying Power with Alicia

As a real estate agent for London Properties, I have great resources at my disposal. Those resources have allowed me to educate my buyers in the buying process. This helps them better understand the buying and selling experience and how unique it is to each individual, making expectations realistic.

Collaborating with my team, including lenders like Juan Sanchez of RWM Home Loans, I can provide quality service to every individual client. For example, when I host an open house, those individuals that come to view a home may not all be prequalified.

In those circumstances, I provide them with the information for the lender I am collaborating with and the ball is in the buyer’s court. They then control how fast or slow their buying power becomes. If they act right away, my lenders get them pre-approved or pre-qualified so they have buying power. With buying power, you and your realtor can find your dream home. It’s the best feeling for all involved and we are invested in your purchase as well. That’s the quality service you deserve!

Strategy Moving Forward

You have carefully picked the home that best fits you while taking into consideration the schools, neighborhoods, square footage, amenities, curb appeal, proximity to family, and general vibe. A strategy will help secure the deal for this ideal pick. Currently, in many markets, homes are selling for an estimated $30K over the asking price. Therefore, an appraisal gap strategy may come into play, so it’s a good idea to have this discussion beforehand. The appraisal value given to a home will determine what a bank is willing to lend, but an appraisal gap plans for the difference. Hopefully, the appraisal will come in high enough that you do not need to allocate more funds, but nonetheless, an exceptional open house experience is more likely to occur if we plan for the unexpected.

Get Ready for the Next Open House!

An open house is a beneficial event for both parties in the homebuying process. We believe that both buyers and sellers should be well-informed about how an open house works to ensure a smooth transaction. While an open house doesn’t guarantee that your offer as a buyer will be accepted or that you’ll have a desired offer as a seller, it is still a worthwhile experience that is truly valuable to the making homeownership possible for all.

Ready to make an offer on a house you like? Don’t forget to check out our helpful tips on how to apply for a mortgage. We take you through the entire journey of filling out your application and cover the before, during, and after steps to set you up for success. Fill out the form below if you’re ready to get started!

About the Guest Authors

Juan Sanchez

Juan Sanchez

Residing in Fresno, CA, I highly enjoy being in the mortgage industry as a loan officer. Being able to serve my community sparked a passion for helping families realize the American dream of homeownership. Knowing that a mortgage is one of the most important financial decisions you will make, I want to guide you along every step of the process. Since I hold such strong family values with four children of my own and being married for over 22 years, it motivates me to do the same for other families and first-time home buyers. I am also bilingual in Spanish and can assist in breaking down any language barriers that may exist. Learn more.

Alicia Sanchez

Alicia Sanchez

Hi there! I’m Alicia, a real estate agent at London Properties. I’m a native of Fresno, CA, and have lived in Central Valley most of my life. I attended and graduated from Fresno city college, Fresno State University, and the University of Phoenix. I have three children and have been married for 23 years. Learn more.

Financing details are for educational purposes only. All views and opinions do not constitute financial or legal advice and reflect requirements at the time of publication. Rates, program terms, fees, and conditions referenced are subject to change without notice. Not all products are available in all states for all amounts. All mortgage applications are subject to underwriting guidelines and approval. This is not an offer of credit or a commitment to lend. Residential Wholesale Mortgage, Inc. dba RWM Home Loans is an equal housing lender licensed by the CA Department of Real Estate #01174642 and CA Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act. NMLS# 79445

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