What To Know About an Open House
Last weekend, my client and I visited a property for sale during an open house. As is often the case, the agent who greeted us at the door was not the listing agent. She offered us freshly baked cookies and continued chatting with a few other guests.
We walked through the dining area and onto a deck. The large backyard had a swing set and a large shed across the back of the property. Behind the shed and swing set, the land sloped downward toward a creek and trees. I looked over at the neighbors' yard and saw three big sheds lining the backyard. They were also built next to the creek.
My client shook her head and said, "not for me'" and just then the agent came out to talk.
"The swing set and shed are built slightly on county land. But as you can see, the neighbors have three sheds on county land and the county hasn't said anything. So, it's not going to be a problem but I just wanted you to know."
After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I told my client this was completely wrong. Just because the county hadn't fined the neighbors or the sellers didn't mean it was okay. In fact, building on county land is a violation and the fine can be as much as $10,000 if the structure is built on a riparian buffer.
As we left the open house, I heard the agent repeating the story to other guests at the open house.
Fellow real estate agents, does this sound like a cautionary story we learn in our continuing education classes?
Homebuyers, here are a few points to consider when attending an open house
- The agent at the open house works for the seller. The brokerage has a signed agreement with the seller to get the best terms and price. Anything you say to this agent about you, the property, and your intentions will be shared with the seller.
- The agent at the open house may or may not have accurate information about the property. Either way, what is said doesn't matter. If you plan to make an offer review the disclosures and get everything in writing.
- If you don't have an agent to represent you, do not ask the listing agent. See my first point and remember, you deserve full representation as a buyer.
Open houses are fun and a great way to check out houses and neighborhoods. Ask questions and if you want to make an offer, contact an exclusive buyers agent or an agent from another brokerage.