Top few questions to ask realtor when visiting open house

Asked by Vishal Maheshwari, Fremont, CA Mon Jul 30, 2012

I am in process to find a house in Fremont/Newark/Union City. I wanted to know what should be top few questions to ask when seeing open house or any house?

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Charo Bhatt, Agent, Fremont, CA
Tue Aug 14, 2012
Hello Vishal,

You are in process of finding a home in Tricity –Fremont/Newark/Union City area.
Congratulation for making a decision of buying home! Great timing where market has stabilized and mortgage rates are still low.

Here are my questions to you to help you answer your question…

• Are you going to an open house with selected list of homes?
• Do you go the open houses in geographic area by certain schools?
• Or you are just dropping by at open houses by signs in any neighborhood?
• Do you have most of the information about the property?
• Do you have a buyer’s agent who asked you to visit these open houses?
• Do you have MLS print outs or information from any site like trulia, Zillow,, or, Movoto etc?
• Do you have information about year built, living sqft, lot size, Bedrooms, bathrooms upgrades and other listed features?

Assuming you already have this basic information, now the question comes for you to ask…

1. Are you the listing agent?
2. How long the property has been in the market?
3. Ever since the property got listed was there any price adjustment?
4. Is this a traditional sale, short sale, REO or a flip property?
5. Are sellers available to make a quick decision if an offer is presented?
6. For how long sellers have been living in this home?
7. Is this seller’s rental property or prime residence?
8. If this a 1031 exchange, sellers are willing to pay for my closing cost if I worked with seller’s title company?
9. Do you have any disclosure package or inspections available or a site where consumers can view these reports?
10. What are the items included in the sales price i.e. washer, dryer and refrigerator?
11. If you see any shelves in garage, are sellers taking it with them or leaving it?
12. Ask for any neighborhood information if that hosting agent/or listing agent may have.
13. If the home you are visiting is a town home, then ask how much are the HOA dues?
14. HOA dues paid monthly or quarterly?
15. What amenities are included in HOA?
16. Are you aware of any HOA pending litigation issues that may affect financing of the property/project?
17. Do you have any lender’s references?
18. If I want to work with you to buy this house or any other property, do you require me to sign buyer-broker agreement?
19. Do I have any benefit by signing buyer/broker agreement?

Visual, you wanted to know top few questions to ask, but without knowing how much do you know…I thought of providing you list of these questions. Every question you ask; has some benefit to you. Now you can put it in priority order that feel comfortable with.

Good luck to you!

Charo Bhatt
3 votes
Cindy Davis, Agent, San Diego, CA
Mon Jul 30, 2012
Your first question should be 'is the home still available' and your second should be 'how many offers have the sellers received on it?'

Low inventory levels are prevalent throughout California. Homes are prevalent. Homes are selling quickly and multiple offers are evident.

I would echo some of the other comments made by Realtors should be working with an agent and seeing homes the day they come on the market...that is what it takes to buy a home today!

Best of luck.
1 vote
Jerry Straks, Agent, Fremont, CA
Mon Jul 30, 2012
Today's market can be very frustrating for buyers. Limiting yourself to open houses can make that more so. Be sure to work with a Realtor you trust who can show you everything that is available on the MLS, not just the ones that are open, and will make sure you get the answers you need, including at open houses you attend together. Leverage their experience to help you buy one of the largest purchases you can make.

However, in answer to your question:
- Definitely ask about potential issues, disclosures, wood-destroying pest reports and the like.
- Definitely ask about the process they are using to accept offers.
- Ask what does and does not go with with the house (drapes? chandelier? bookcase? etc.)

Best wishes in your search!
1 vote
Shirley Cheng, Agent, San Jose, CA
Mon Jul 30, 2012
1. Find out if there is a offer deadline date.
2. Are there disclosures available
3. Is there any issues about the house that you should be aware of.
4. Everything else, you can pretty much find online. i.e. square footage, the year it was built, CMA, crime rate
5. Also find out from the agent if the seller would like a personal letter from the buyer.
1 vote
Maria Cipoll…, Agent, Coral Springs, FL
Thu Sep 27, 2012
Why are you going alone in the search of your dream home? Hiring a professional real estate agent is one of the first steps you should consider. A real estate agent have many resources to assist you in the buying process, can help you to negotiate the best price, can help you to understand the different financing available and identified qualify lenders. A realtor can help you in the selection process by providing realistic information about homes and neighborhoods. You will save time and money if you decide to hire a buyer's agent.

Best of Luck,

Maria E. Cipollone
0 votes
The Medford…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Sat Aug 4, 2012
Let me start by stating that if you are going from home to home without a buyer’s agent, then you are missing out on the one really effective source of information. As for visiting open houses, there is no list of questions, per se. In the current market, there is only one critical question, and your buyer’s agent usually knows the answer:

“Is there an offer deadline?”

You have to understand why the home is actually being held open. In light of this, John brings up an interesting point – the agent holding the home open is seldom the actual listing agent.

This can mean any or all of the following:

• They more than likely they do not live in the area,
• They will not usually know a lot about the home,
• They are frequently more interested in getting a prospective buyer coming through the home to be a future client than they are in actually selling the home for the listing agent. Strange but true – agents typically do not hold a home open to sell it – they are there to get future clients.

Truth be known, you should be getting answers on properties from your agent – who can get them directly from the listing agent. In fact, if the agent holding the home open is not the actual listing agent, they not only may not know the answers to questions, but might be a bit frustrated that your spate of questions is keeping them from focusing on their real intent – finding buyer clients to work with them.

If you have a buyer’s agent AND are actively looking, open houses are a great way for you to get in the front door, have a look around and get an overall view if this might be a home you are interested in pursuing. You can weed out a lot of homes in short order this way. As such, a lot of questions are not even necessary – do you like it or not? Does it feel like home to you or not? You may not even get as far as the front room before you know this is not the home for you – at that point, there is no real purpose in asking any questions.
0 votes
John Juarez, Agent, Fremont, CA
Tue Jul 31, 2012
Ask about issues that are important to you. There are no standard questions but questions about schools, crime, condition of the property, motivation of the seller, nature of the sale (REO, short sale, normal sale), personal property (appliances, window coverings), neighborhood often come up.

Remember that the agent hold the house open does not live there and may not know all answers in detail.
0 votes
Ken Vasan, Agent, Fremonet, CA
Mon Jul 30, 2012
Ask any question, but stay away from asking Why the Sellers are selling the house?
0 votes
Pacita Dimac…, Agent, Oakland, CA
Mon Jul 30, 2012
Depending on how busy the open house is, the showing agent may not have the time to answer all your questions, and may ask you to have your own agent contact him/her with questions about the property.

I would also ask if the listing agent is writing an offer on his/her own listing.

Anything special that the seller wants? Some sellers may want rent-back

Regular sale, short sale or foreclosure? Your agent would know off the bat, but if you're going from open house to open house without prior knowledge of the listing, this is a question you may want to ask.

If you aren't working with a realtor, you should! Remember that listing agent's first priority when listing the house is to get the highest and best offer possible for the seller. The buyer's agent first priority when representing a buyer is to get the lowest possible offer. If the agent is representing both sides, he/she can serve as a conduit of information but may not be able to negotiate effectively for either side.
0 votes
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