Top 5 in Real Estate Network® Members are dedicated to providing you with the most up-to-date, helpful real estate information. This monthly newsletter, "Real Estate Matters," offers articles on a range of topics that will inform you in your real estate pursuits.

From Our Team: Florida, How to Make the Most of Open-House Weekend

If you’re considering a real estate purchase—whether you’re a first-time buyer, a move-up buyer or a second-home buyer, you’ll want to take advantage of a special event happening in our community and across the state of Florida.
On April 10 and 11, 2010, the Florida Association of Realtors is sponsoring the first-ever statewide open house weekend. From coast to coast you’ll see the signature blue balloons with the Realtor logo indicating homes that are participating in this special showcase.
As a member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, I, along with my team, strongly urge you to take advantage of this event if you’re considering a home purchase; interest rates are still low and the home buyer tax credit—both for first-time home buyers and move-up buyers—is approaching its April 30 deadline. So narrow down your home choices online and then go visit your top picks in person during open-house weekend.

Here are some important strategies to keep in mind when attending an open house:

Get an early start and prioritize.
For the homes at the top of your list, try and be among the first to arrive in order to receive a thorough tour before the agent gets too busy as the day goes on.

Kick some tires. Make sure you do the things that you can’t do when looking at a virtual tour or photos online: run the faucets, flush the toilets, ask about any odd odors, open closet doors, look in the oven, check out the views from the windows, deck, porch, etc.

Ask questions. You’ll need to maximize your time, so prepare a list of questions in advance. Ask the agent questions about any information you haven’t been able to gather on your own, such as: utility costs, taxes, schools, age of roof, landscaping costs, garbage removal, etc.

Take notes. You’ll be taking in a lot of information on several different properties, so be sure to take copious notes. Jot down your thoughts and feelings about any aspects of the homes you’re visiting. Take pictures, if allowed, and create a file for each home you’re interested in. This will become an invaluable reference guide as you narrow down your decision.

Do some field work. Since you’re out and about, take the opportunity to talk to any neighbors in the vicinity of the open house. Ask them to share their opinions about the neighborhood, community, schools, other neighbors, etc.

Act fast. Prices in most markets are starting to stabilize, which means the competition among buyers is picking up. If you find a property you are serious about, consult your agent and make an offer as soon as possible.

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