10 August 2023
There’s nothing more exciting as a buyer than heading off to your first show house. Knowing that your dream home could be just around the corner is a delightful feeling. According to David Jacobs, Regional Sales Manager for the Rawson Property Group, however, there’s a lot more to think about when viewing an open house than your personal opinions. In fact, your behaviour could have a direct impact on the success of any offer you decide to make. These the most common faux pas that Jacobs has witnessed at show houses, and how you can avoid making the same mistakes.
Open houses (particularly when not held by appointment) are prone to “tourists” – visitors with no intention of buying. While this is part and parcel of selling a property, Jacobs says appearing with no real game plan can result in the seller’s agent not taking your interest seriously.
“Visiting a show house is about more than just experiencing the property,” he says. “It’s also an opportunity to ask important questions and get a sense of what the seller is thinking via their agent.”
Jacobs recommends putting together a list of key questions, including things like how long the property has been on the market, whether the price has been amended at all, whether there are any known defects, and if there have been any unsuccessful offers.
“Keep in mind, the agent works for the seller, so their answers will be tailored for positive impact,” he says. “Despite this, you can often learn a lot about a property and its seller’s state of mind by asking a few targeted – but polite – questions.”
Being overly shy
It’s perfectly natural to feel awkward about opening somebody else’s cupboards, asking to see inside their roof space, or peeking underneath their carpets. Done respectfully, however, Jacobs says this careful examination is not just acceptable, it’s actively encouraged, and essential if you’re going to avoid buyers’ remorse.
“Sellers legally have to disclose any known, material defects,” he says, “but your idea of defects and theirs may not be the same. Things like tiny closets, poor water pressure or non-existent cell phone reception might be a non-issue for one person and a total dealbreaker for another.”
As such, Jacobs fully supports serious show house visitors taking a “peek and asking questions”, but recommends doing so sensitively, and with the sales agent’s permission.
Ignoring the competition
Agents aren’t the only ones who can pick up interesting details from overheard conversations at show houses. Jacobs says buyers should also pay attention to other visitors, and listen out for potentially valuable information.
“It can be quite revealing hearing other potential buyers’ thoughts on a property,” he says, “particularly if they are more familiar with the neighbourhood or the property market than you are. Don’t take everything you hear as gospel, of course, but if someone mentions a particularly high crime rate, a known noise nuisance, or an unstable roofline, you may want to do a bit more investigating before making an offer.”
Likewise, Jacobs says if visitor sentiment seems universally positive, you may need to prepare for some hot competition. Either way, keeping your eyes and ears open is always a good idea.
Getting swept up in the excitement
It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of a show house – particularly when there are lots of other interested buyers. While Jacobs says acting quickly is often critical to success, he urges buyers to ensure their actions are guided by knowledge and not just only on their feelings.
“The more preparation you do, the more easily you’ll be able to recognise the right property for you,” he says. “Know the difference between what you want and what you need – what you’re willing to compromise on and what you consider non-negotiable. Buying a home is a long-term commitment. Avoid making the wrong decision in the heat of the moment.”