Shmuel Shayowitz (NMLS#19871) is President and Chief Lending Officer at Approved Funding, a privately held local mortgage banker and direct lender. Shmuel has over two decades of industry experience, including licenses and certifications as a certified mortgage underwriter, residential review appraiser, licensed real estate agent, and direct FHA specialized underwriter. Shmuel provides a uniquely holistic approach to comprehensive real estate and financial matters that goes well beyond any single transaction. Shmuel is an award-winning financier recognized for maximizing the short-term and long-term objectives of his client. As a contributing writer to many local and regional newspapers and publications, his insights have been featured in the media for many topics, including mortgages, personal finance, appraisals, and real estate trends.
Kudos to Shmuel Shayowitz on featuring the age-old question in the January 5 Jewish Link issue featuring “Open Houses: Worthwhile or Worthless?” The article certainly gives good pointers and the information is vital for consumers who are either selling or looking for a home to purchase. As an experienced realtor, please allow me to add some ideas through a professional selling/buying perspective to augment the objective of what Shmuel has posed.
When one is actively looking for a home, searching and going to open houses is a viable and hands-on approach to exploring the market. Virtual reality tours, videos, pictures can never replace seeing a home in person. Although the pics and 3-D tours are a good starter to get a sense of interest online, we all know that they can be deceiving. When entering a home, you will either be encouraged to like home even more than the pics or discouraged that the pictures didn’t quite tell the right story.
As they say, “Seeing is believing,” and you’re not going to purchase one of the biggest investments you will ever make without seeing the home and stepping inside. Of course, I never say “never” but it is rare if that anomaly does occur. In some cases, when the spouse is out of town, the respective spouse will decide if a house is right for them with the trust of the spouse’s approval and consent. To take it to the extreme, one would not choose a mate without meeting them in person, unless of course, we were still in Biblical times. So, open houses are the first step in easily getting into the house physically and the seller affords himself increased activity of showings by allowing for the open house on a pivotal day of house-hunting expectations.
So, there is no argument that open houses do facilitate popping into a home that fits into your criteria location and price. The problem surfaces when one realizes that not all homeowners agree to open houses even though it is to their benefit. Keep in mind though that many homeowners do not agree to aggressively do open houses and the agent is left with utilizing other marketing tools to sell their home with respect to their sellers’ needs and wishes.
Aside from open house shopping, ever wonder why making appointments to get in to see houses is so varied? Some owners agree to show homes easily and frequently, making their home readily available at a moment’s notice, while other homeowners request 24-48 hour notice. Some homes are vacant and easy to get into with a realtor’s lockbox, while other homes may be occupied with a renter. The point being that personality of homeownership is prevalent and real during the selling process. We may have a homeowner who refuses open houses, and then the buyer who only resorts to Sunday open houses is left without really exploring all homes within their criteria of interest.
My advice is to use all modalities available to a buyer. Yes, of course, go to open houses, but choose an agent who is also aggressive in showing you a variety of homes that may or may not be open on the designated open house day. Your investment is too valuable to only depend on the personality and approach that the seller has agreed to. Make sure to see all the homes that may or may not be right for you without the dependence of which houses are open on a given day. Your realtor will be happy to set appointments of all homes on the market in addition to easily walking into the open house. Planning your schedule with your realtor is to your benefit to ensure that you have combed the market thoroughly.
Beware of depending on the next week’s open house since houses come and go. I always caution my buyers, if there is interest, don’t count on it being on the market for any period of time.
My advice: Take Shmuel’s advice; don’t solely count on open houses and pick a good realtor to incorporate a team approach of knowing all the houses of interest that are for sale.
Since your loan officer is necessary for the qualification and mortgage process, the realtor will help navigate homes for sale and arrange for access at a mutually agreeable time, the attorney will do their role when there is an agreement of terms and synergy between buyer and seller, the inspector will inspect the home for defects and so we have a disciplinary team approach that works to the advantage of all parties involved… So, go for it, step into the open house, but words of advice: It should not be your only tool to look at…get yourself a good realtor who cares and you’re on your way to happy homeownership!
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