Questions Agents May Ask You at an Open House
Now that the Spring Market has started in earnest you will start to see Open House signs sprouting up all over – especially on weekends. Prospective Home Buyers who are not quite sure they’re that serious about looking prefer Open Houses as they get to see a home and not ally themselves with a particular agent. But they should also be prepared for the listing agent hosting the Open House to ask a few questions of their own.
For the listing agent, an Open House is the perfect time to gauge the current market and so they hope to get that info from any potential lookers. They truly appreciate the feedback, but they’re often disappointed if a potential Buyer refuses to sign in or deflects their questions about the house they’re touring.
To avoid this scenario, the next time you stop by an Open House having prepared answers to their common questions will help so you won’t be caught off guard and you can better enjoy the experience.
Most agents will ask you how long you have been looking – there’s a good reason for this. Try to answer this question honestly and be specific. Agents ask this to gauge the seriousness of potential Buyers.
If you’ve just begun your search, you may still be looking at what’s on the market and deciding what you like, but if you’ve been searching for a while, the open house agent may be curious as to what you’re looking for, why you haven’t found it, and if this house will be the home you pick. If you’ve been looking for months, then the agent might dig in. That tells them you’ve seen a lot, but you haven’t found what you’re looking for.
An agent may ask if you’re working with an agent exclusively. It’s better to answer this question honestly. Agents ask this because they are trained to respect boundaries. If you aren’t working with an agent exclusively, the open house agent may try to represent you – called dual agency, a topic we’ve discussed in a previous blog.
If you’re represented by an agent, the open house agent cannot try to represent you. This question sets the tone of the conversation. Don’t be surprised if the agent asks who your agent is. Most agents who do business in a certain area know other active agents. This way the open house agent can call your agent—not you—for your feedback. You’re insulated by your buyer-broker agreement.
Give the open house agent your agent’s name and brokerage company. This protects you from having to give your personal information. Rather than sign in with your name, number, and email, you can sign in with your name and your agent’s contact information. That’s all the open house agent needs to follow up.
Agents may ask for the opinions of potential Buyers. They may ask how you think the home compares to others that you’ve seen. Give your real opinion, even if it’s negative, because agents want honesty so that they can see how desirable the home is compared to others.
The agents assume you’re touring other houses nearby (other “comps,” as they say). They want your honest insight on whether their listing is better or worse than the others. If the house around the corner has a remodeled kitchen and this one doesn’t, point that out. If you think this house could use some work, let them know.
Remember, being honest about the house won’t hurt the agent’s feelings. They’re independent. Of course they care about the listing, but, unlike an owner, they aren’t emotionally attached. This is one reason for sale by owner is difficult.
Agents may ask if you’re looking specifically at that neighborhood or if you’re open to other places. If you’re only looking in that neighborhood, this information helps the agent determine the most and least desirable things about the property compared to others that are on the market. If you’re looking elsewhere, this also helps the agent figure out how their neighborhood compares with others.
The agent wants to know how focused you are, rule out the looky-loos and focus on the serious Buyers. They need to understand what other listings have that theirs doesn’t – are you focused on certain streets within the neighborhood? A certain style of house? Or is it all about price?
If you’re focused on that neighborhood, it’s OK to say so. If you’re open and still getting your bearings straight, it’s OK to say so. These answers provide depth for the agent when they’re talking to the Seller. This tells the Seller there are Buyers out there—and that adjustments may have to be made if those Buyers aren’t buying this home.
If the agent asks you what you think of the price, answer thoughtfully. If you aren’t sure how the price compares to others, admit that you don’t know. But if you think it’s priced competitively or too high, say so.
This is probably the most important question, but it may not be the first one out of the agent’s mouth, because they want to establish rapport first. The agent knows that people are usually guarded when it comes to price. They want you to give a thoughtful answer, not a flippant one.
The idea is not to give a dollar figure, but to offer a general perception. If you believe it’s a good deal, say so. If you think it’s overpriced, say that. If the house is overpriced, maybe the agent will call you once it’s reduced.
Finally, an agent may ask if you’re considering making an offer. Answer honestly! It’s good news to the agent if you say yes and it also gives you time to talk to your agent because the open house agent knows to expect something from you if he receives multiple offers. It’s also okay to say that you aren’t interested.
As a prospective Buyer, remember: You hold the power. It also might help you if the house is in demand so the agent will know there are multiple offers coming in. That way, they may not start negotiating without first getting your offer in hand. To some extent, this buys you time to call your agent and get your offer submitted. If you’re not planning to make an offer, it’s fine to say that, too.
Also, please sign in as a common courtesy. It helps the agent confirm how many people came to an Open House or, if you have an agent, get in touch with them and follow up.