Heading to an open house this weekend? Avoid these three things

For home hunters in Southern California, spring weekends should mean one thing: open house.

In a regular real estate market, these events are calm and relaxed, a chance to see what’s on the market and look into a stranger’s life. But not in Southern California, where the murderous market is turning open houses into battlefields where buyers must take each other up to make the best impression and increase their chances of getting a home.

Do not be afraid, because The Times is here to help you. This week we published “The Great SoCal House Hunt”, a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to buying a home. It covers everything you need to know during the house buying process, and one of the highlights is an open house survival guide to help you plan for each step along the way.

To begin with, you need to find a house to tour. To do so, just click this link. It scans real estate listing site Redfin after every open house this weekend in LA County; to limit it to a specific area, simply enter the area you are looking at in the search field.

Once you have found a place worth checking out here, the three most important things to avoid when visiting.

Do not give away too much information

The seller’s agent is there to help, but they are also looking for information from potential buyers that can be used for leverage along the way.

For example, if you tell the listing agent that you are selling your current location and need to find somewhere as soon as possible, the agent will use that information to ask for more money during the negotiation process because they feel you are desperate.

Although it is important to ask questions, do not ask anyone who would offend the seller.

“I saw a couple walk into an open house and ask how safe the area was,” said Heather Presha, an agent at Keller Williams Realty. “The seller does not want to sell to people who think their immediate area is not safe.”

Do not annoy the agent

Speaking of offending the seller, try not to be inconvenienced. Agents have pets, and if you come out as a high-maintenance buyer, it will make your offer less attractive down the road.

You can also annoy the agent by asking too many questions. The agent is there to offer information, but monopolizing his time and coming back to tour with friends, family and others can give the impression that it will be difficult to conclude a contract with you.

Also ask permission to visit certain areas – and always ask before using the bathroom. Compass agent Brent Chang recalled a potential buyer who snuck into the bathroom without asking and stayed there for 30 minutes.

“She finally came out and said ‘Bad sushi for lunch,’ while rubbing her stomach, Chang says.

Remove the pink glasses

One of the worst things you can do in an open house is to fool yourself into thinking that the place has no problems. In an open house, the grass will be the greenest, the house will be the cleanest and the red flags will be hidden – but not invisible.

Switch to Sherlock Holmes mode and keep an eye out for cracks, water stains and mold. Also be careful with seemingly nice details. Light in each room probably means that the seller hides a bad smell. New paint on just one wall probably covers a crack.

Open house is an art, and feeling around them can give you a leg up on other buyers. For more tips, questions to ask and other red flags, print out our open house checklist to make sure you’re covered.

The big SoCal house hunt

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