Homebuyers can find just about anything they want to know about the Atlanta real estate market on the Internet. More than 40 percent of buyers look at houses online first, according to a 2013 survey by the National Association of Realtors. Real estate experts say house hunters appreciate the opportunity to explore properties in person. These open house tips can help both buyers and sellers make the most of an open house.

What buyers should do

Open houses are a great way to look at homes that interest you. Here are some open house tips to ensure you get the most from the experience.

  • Dress for the occasion: You’ll be walking in backyards, up and down stairs and on carpeted and hardwood surfaces. Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Budget your time: If you’re going to house hunt for an afternoon, try not to spend much of it driving around. Use an open house app to search for listings in your desired neighborhood beforehand. Have a strategic route mapped so you’re not backtracking.
  • Learn from others: We’re not saying you have to eavesdrop on others’ conversation, but pay attention to fellow buyers’ reactions to the home. Engage in conversation when appropriate. They may notice problem areas in the property or the neighborhood that you hadn’t thought of.
  • Get the 4-1-1: Don’t be shy. It’s OK to ask why the owner’s selling, if there have been any offers, if the house has ever been under contract and whether there are any other costs of ownership. Your mission is to decide if the house is right for you, and you need all the information you can get.
  • Use a skilled buyer’s agent.

What sellers should do

If you’re working with a real estate agent, discuss how to best hold an open house yourself, when to hold one (hint: anytime you are home) and how to follow up with buyers. Ensure you’re on the same page with your agent.

  • Spread the word: To capture the attention of drivers, replace the “For Sale” sign in the yard with an “Open House” whenevr you’re home. Your agent should also advertise the open house on real estate sites.
  • Enlist neighbors’ help: Though they may seem an unlikely source for leads, they have a vested interest in making sure your home goes to good buyers. Invite them over, and allow them to sing the praises of the neighborhood.
  • Be open everyday: Open houses don’t have to happen over the weekend. If your house is inside Atlanta’s perimeter, consider opening its doors on a weekday during lunchtime or immediately after work.
  • Set the stage: While buyers don’t want to feel like they’ve walked into an episode of “Hoarders,” neither do they want a museum-like space. Make sure your home is free of clutter and personal effects but is also warm and inviting.
  • Be there to answer the buyer’s questions: Agents can hold open houses, but you are he expert in your own home. Don’t make it a big deal.

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