Buyers’ Corner: Right questions to ask during an open house

Open House has often been considered a niche segment in India – a novel concept for both buyers and sellers and most people aren’t very clear what it is all about. In simple terms, Open House is a way to sell a property in which people are shown a completely furnished home ,enabling buyers to reach the right decision about their real estate investments.  Globally, real estate agents have a practice of hosting Open House session even to sell individual dwellings. However, in India the concept has been centred on showcasing sample flats in large apartment complexes. Sellers mostly look at Open Houses as a way to attract a large buyer community and as an effective marketing tactic.

While there are a lot of pros and cons for sellers looking to host an Open House, what should you as a buyer look for when you attend one? Here are some questions that’ll help you leverage this opportunity to make meaningful decisions.

Open House for a re-sale of a single property

  1. How long has the property been on the market?

It’s sort of tied in to the first question, and gives an idea of the demand. If the property has been listed for a while, why is it not getting picked up? Are there any issues you need to dig deeper in? Is the seller holding out for a better offer? What does that mean for your budget?

  • Have there been any offers made yet?

To check the desirability of the property, ask the agent/seller about the number of offers, already made. This will also give you the idea of how long the property can be expected to be available –more the offers, more quickly it might go off market. It also gives you a sense of the budget and negotiations you can expect. More demand is likely to leave no room for negotiations.

  • Why is the property for sale?

It might be a little tricky to get the right response for this question, but if you don’t – then it’s something to note. The common reasons are relocation, move to a new house, or inability to maintain the property. However, if the agent/seller tries to brush off this query, there might be deeper concerns. Check for any glaring signs of deterioration, plumbing, facilities etc.

  • How old is the property?

The older the property, the more it might need regular maintenance and may have structural/ functional issues. In addition, also check-up on the number of renovations, house taxes, if there are any liabilities on the land where it sits. If you are in for buying a considerably old property, this might indicate further expenses in the future.

  • Is the seller in a hurry to make the deal?

Understanding from the owner the time period within which the sale has to be made, will help you plan your finances better. If the seller is in a hurry to make the deal, because they have critical engagements to go after – a strong negotiation can work in your favour in a brief period. However if the seller has enough time in hand, then it will result in a longer process of purchase. 

Open House for showcasing of a new property sample

An adapted version of Open House in the Indian context is centred on showcasing of sample flats to potential buyers.The builders will organise an event where buyers can visualise how a property will look after it’s furnished, walk around the complex and see the amenities, and get a ‘feel’ of what living there would be like. While there are a lot of fun and games thrown in the mix at such events, as a serious buyer you may want to ask these questions:

  1. Is the sample flat a good representation of all properties in the complex?

Remember, the builder will pick up the most promising apartment in the complex to showcase – larger, better lit and with a better floor plan. They also use a lot of optical illusion tactics to make the sample apartment look more spacious – for example, thinner walls, open sides, glass partitions, and no doors. Always look around all types of floor plans to get a better idea of what you might get.

  • Will the fixtures and finishing be the same in all apartments?

Often fixtures and finish showcased in the sample flat is of better quality than what you finally get in the apartment you purchase. It’s a good idea to get clarity on what you can expect in reality.

  • What is the additional expense for similar furnishings?

Sample apartments look great because a lot of thought goes in to doing the interiors to look as posh as possible. For buyers it may not always be possible to buy similar designer furnishings/ lighting and even the arrangements may not be suitable for day-to-day living. Always check what could be the expected outlay to furnish a similar apartment.  

  • Will you get an apartment similar to what you are being shown?

Check the agreement carefully, there may be a clause saying that the builder can alter specifications.

For Open Houses to work effectively, it’s important that both the parties move beyond the boundaries of business and interact to tally the requirements and offer. This will ensure much transparency and will eliminate confusions to an extent, saving time and efforts of the buyer and seller. If leveraged properly, open house can be a great channel for meaningful conversion of business deals.

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