Property Mom: Things to Ask at an Open House

Take a stroll around Hoboken on a nice spring weekend and it seems like there is an Open House taking place on every other block! This is the busiest time of year for the local real estate market, with many families looking to get settled before the summer and new school year kicks off. If you are in the market to buy a new home, here are seven smart things to ask the seller’s agent when attending an Open oHuse:

How long has this property been on the market?

This information can usually be found on websites like Trulia and Zillow, however, it is important to ask the seller's agent at the Open House so you can put this information into context. The property may have been on the market for a while, but only because an offer was made and fell through because of the prospective buyer's financing. Likewise, the property may have just come on the market recently but the seller has already had a lot of interest and expects it to sell quickly, which indicates it is priced properly and in demand. This is information you will want to know to help you decide about making an offer.

Are there any problems with the property?

The seller is required by law to disclose to potential buyers any structural problems or code violations they know of. You will want to request a written seller's disclosure form in order to obtain a list of any and all potential issues. Be sure to visit any problem areas the seller’s agent mentions and take pictures of the areas to factor them into the price of any needed repairs.

Why is the seller relocating?

There could be a variety of reasons why the seller is moving on from this property. The seller could be relocating due to work, the family could be upgrading or downgrading due to family size, or it could be for another personal reason. A lot of time the reason the seller's agent shares with you will not be anything groundbreaking, however, it never hurts to ask why the house went on the market.

Has the price of the property fluctuated?

While your own agent will be able to tell you how many times the price of a property has changed since it was first listed, the seller's agent will be able to explain why. Perhaps the price dropped because the seller is on a tight timeline and may be in a hurry to sell. This information will help clue you into whether the list price may be somewhat flexible, thereby giving you some power to negotiate when it comes time to put in an offer.

What is the seller's timeline?

The standard close usually takes anywhere from 45-90 days after an offer is accepted. Sometimes though, a seller may need to move out quicker if she has already bought a new home, or the seller may need to wait a little longer if she is waiting for new construction to be completed or wants her children to finish out the school year. If you are flexible on your move-in date, you should definitely highlight this in your offer to make it stand out from others.

Are there any offers on the table?

It is natural to want to know if a particular property is in demand. A seller’s agent who has received offers or has been notified that an offer is on the way will usually be willing to share this information with you in the hope this will press you to act, thereby creating a bidding war. Be sure to also ask how many offers have been made to give you an idea of how in-demand the property is and where you might end up standing in terms of negotiation.

How much should I expect to pay for utilities, property tax, Home Owner's Association (HOA) and home insurance?

This is a very important question in order for you to figure out your monthly home budget. Some buildings include expenses like electric and gas in the monthly maintenance charges, while others require owners to set up personal accounts with the respective providers to be billed directly through them. Utility bills can be expensive depending on the property, so make sure to ask the seller’s agent and the seller about these additional expenses and gather all the information you need to determine if this property is a good fit for you financially.

Happy House Hunting!


Marissa Martini-Cyprys is a licensed real estate agent with the Maryanski Group at Keller Williams City Life Realty. As a resident and homeowner in Hoboken, she has extensive knowledge of the local residential real estate market. When she is not busy helping her clients, she enjoys spending time with her husband Jon and little boys Jacob and Cameron, and taking advantage of the wonderful community resources, activities and events Hoboken offers young families.

For help with all of your real estate needs, contact Marissa directly:

Email: Mobile: (973) 723-2333

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