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.