This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

How to Use Other People's Open Houses to Sell Your Own Home

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The snow is finally gone, daffodils are blooming and tree buds are about to burst -- spring is finally here. Which means it time for a bumper crop of open houses, an opportunity for buyers -- and sellers too -- to assess the market first-hand.

Sellers? Yes. Though most sellers don't think of it, exploring open houses provides a chance to see how your home compares. If most homes for sale are freshly painted and tidy, you can bet you'll have a tough time competing with a dingy interior filled with clutter.  

For a buyer, the open house is an easy way to look at a half-dozen properties on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon without all the hassle of making appointments and trucking around with a real estate agent. So how do you get the most out of it?

Clearly it makes sense to look at homes you might buy -- ones in your price range, with the correct location and so forth. But because they are so easy to attend, open houses offer a chance to test your criteria, so you might look at some homes that are a little cheaper or more expensive than you'd had in mind. Look at some in neighborhoods that might not be the first to come to mind, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area.

Gather brochures, even for homes that don't interest you. Your collection will help you assess prices and other terms as you zero in on properties that really appeal to you.

Typically, the seller's agent hosts the open house and the seller is usually not there, allowing for some candid conversation. Even if you're not interested in the home you're visiting, chat up the agent. He or she may have tips on the neighborhood or other homes on the market or expected to be.

And, of course, open houses are a good opportunity for buyer or seller to look for an agent. Ask how long the agent has been in the business and worked that community, and whether he or she works at it full time. Say you'd like some references before agreeing to have the agent represent you, and see what the reaction is.

Then pump the agent for information on the home and neighborhood. Even if the property doesn't interest you, this is a chance to test the agent's knowledge and professionalism. It's a red flag if he or she has to refer to the listing sheet to answer every question; a good agent has answers at the tip of the tongue.

HSH.com, the mortgage-data and housing-market firm, notes there are some dos and don'ts in attending an open house.

It's OK to open closet doors and look around, but not to snoop. No pawing through the medicine cabinet, for instance. (Warning to sellers: HSH says realtors report that drug users sometimes pose as buyers to get access to prescription meds.)

Children should be kept on a short leash, not allowed to touch things with grubby fingers or to play with toys found in the home. Ask the agent's permission before taking pictures, especially inside. It's considered courteous to use the sign-in sheet.

Parking can be a problem when lots of home shoppers show up at once. Don't block people in or make ruts on the lawn. And be respectful of the neighbors. Someday, HSH says, they could be yours.

Open houses are listed on sites like Zillow.com, Trulia.com and Realtor.com.

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 16,982.59 +22.02 0.13%
S&P 500 1,978.91 +0.57 0.03%
NASDAQ 4,444.9090 -4.6550 -0.10%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs