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What to Look for at an Open House, as Buyer or Snoop

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Curbed University delivers insider tips and non-boring advice on how to buy, sell, or rent a home or apartment. Additional questions welcomed to tips@curbed.com. Up now, attending the open house.

If it’s Sunday around noon, you’re probably out with the rest of the Open House Weekend Warriors, either as a serious buyer or a real estate snoop. Hey, it takes all kinds to make a successful open house, and NYC real estate is a competitive sport, though hopefully not full contact. Here are some tips for both ends of the spectrum:

Serious Buyer:
· Agents usually put their Sunday open houses online mid-week, so if you’re working with a broker, make sure you get a list of open houses you can explore by Friday. Agents love when they can send you to open houses because they can multi-task with a bunch of different clients out at the same time who are essentially doing their work for them. If you write their name down on a sign-in sheet, your agent is golden.
· If you’re not working with a broker, make sure your chosen open houses don’t require an advance appointment. If they do, make one! Agents will jump on it, since you will be their direct customer if you come to the open house without a buyer’s agent.
· You’ve got your schedule, and you’ve made your appointments. Depending on whether the building has a doorman or not, you can take a slightly different next step. For non-doorman buildings, a good agent should have appropriate signs pointing you to the apartment. In a doorman situation, they will either tell you where to go or check your name off a list. Take full advantage of the doorman if there is one (no, not in that way, sicko). Have a couple of questions ready to ask him about the building or the area. Most doormen are used to the questions so don’t be shy.

· Once in the apartment, have some questions to ask the agent as well. Some agents choose the “Puppy Method” and like to follow you around for a full tour; others let you explore and give you their spiel at the beginning or end.
· Check out the sign-in sheet. There’s a good chance there are a bunch of names on there already. Maybe you’re there towards the end, or maybe it’s a leftover one from another day. Of course, there’s a 90 percent chance that not all of those names are real?everyone wants something more when it’s in demand.
· Who else is at the open house? If it’s packed, maybe it’s new to the market. Many agents wait a couple weeks to do their first open house so they can advertise it as much as possible beforehand and draw a crowd. Maybe it was just featured in the Times that weekend. Maybe it’s just awesome. It’s common nature for humans to compete for something in demand, so sometimes an empty open house cuts it down a few notches on the Dream Home scale.

Real Estate Snoop:
· Crain’s has noted that 25 percent of open house attendees have no interest in buying, so you’re not alone.
· Get all up on your dream buildings, because that’s what being a real estate snoop is all about. Buildings have different “lines”?A Line, B Line, etc, so figure out the best ones.
· If you’re going to homes you can actually afford?awesome. If you’re going to super high class open houses, dress the part and make a day out of it. Agents will probably be annoyed if ruffians bring their class down a notch. It’s all part of the game, anyway!
· As far as we know, there is no way to search for open houses that serve food or drinks. (Any commenters have the scoop?) However, evening open houses, which usually go from 5-7 during the weekdays, sometimes have some sort of snack or even wine. If there’s a building around you that is of interest, sign up for their newsletter, which will detail all their freebies. If you have a broker friend, ask them to keep you updated, too. Agents get hundreds of emails every month asking them to come to open houses where lunch, dessert, and drinks are served. Sunday open houses sometimes have bagels and other breakfast foods, but the Crain’s article said only 2 percent come for the free snacks. Go ahead and increase that percentage!
· Some people go to open houses to see people’s awesome or horrifying interior decorating skills (according to the Crain’s article, 11 percent come just for the decorating tips), so do your design homework.

NYC Sunday open houses are a hobby, so keep your open house game organized and fun, whether you’re serious or a snoop.
· How to Read Between the Lines of a Sale or Rental Listing [Curbed]
· How to Choose an Agent as a Buyer and as a Seller [Curbed]
· Scoping Out a Rental 'Hood and Getting Ready to Sign a Lease [Curbed]
· Curbed University [Curbed]
· Curbed University [Curbed]