Questions You Need to Ask During an Open House  

Renting a home without attending an open house is like ordering shoes from Amazon. You can see the quality pictures, and you know the size and color, but there is still a chance of misfitting. The same story happens with rental properties. You can’t be hundred percent sure it’s your dream home until you come inside.

Buying a pig in a poke is sure fun, but it’s not the game you’d want to play with your future home. And although half of the experts assert that the era of open houses is gone, others believe it’s still a must. As representatives of the latter group, we’ve rounded up a list of questions you should ask your prospective landlord or property agent during an open house.

Financial Interest Questions

How many offers are on the table?

Your desire to know the demand for a particular property is natural and completely justified. And there is a tricky thing about it: if there are other offers, chances are good you’ll know it without asking. Landlords are big fans of bidding wars, as the trend gives them an opportunity to make more money. When they tell you that others are interested in a property you like, they usually want you to offer more. To save yourself time and money, consider making a transparent custom offer on Rentberry.

For how long has the property been vacant?

Although relatively simple at first glance, this question can reveal many valuable details. If the property has been vacant for too long, there are likely some problems. Maybe the building is located in a flood-risk zone, or the neighborhood is not as safe as it seems. Ask this question and watch the landlord’s reaction. Don’t be shy to corner the landlord with follow-up questions until it becomes clear what’s wrong.

Has the price been changing?

Here’s a quick intro to the world of the rental market. Prices are unstable, so there is always a risk of overpaying and a chance of saving money. You benefit in two ways by asking if the price has been adjusted. First, you find out whether or not the homeowner is flexible regarding pricing. Second, you get a chance to learn the details that would otherwise be kept secret. If the price has been decreased compared to the original listing, it might be something that turns potential renters off.

What’s the ideal lease term?

I cannot stress enough the importance of this question. If you’re looking for a truly long-term rent, it’s crucial to make sure your plans align with those of your future landlord. To avoid heated debates and misunderstandings, don’t lose your chance to clear things out as soon as possible.

What payment methods will you accept?

Hopefully, your landlord is keeping up with the times and accepting online rental payments. But if, for some reason, that’s not the case, find out the preferred method and consider whether it’s comfortable for you to use it. That’s not to say that debates over a payment method should be a reason not to rent, but it’s definitely something to agree upon during an open house.

How much do monthly utilities cost?

Utility bills can differ depending on the season, and your landlord should tell you the average sum for each period of the year. Although you can calculate the approximate sum by yourself, there might be some hidden pitfalls you cannot consider. Ask your possible landlord, and you’ll be glad you did.

Practical Questions

Will the place fit all the belongings you have?

That’s not a question you should ask your landlord, but more like a thing you should check when attending a vacant property. Feel free to use a measuring tape if you don’t trust your visual estimation skills. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Are there any problems with the house?

Plenty of people have no idea that landlords or property managers are legally obliged to disclose all problematic spots of a property. Well, at least in some states. Check out if the question is regulated in your location and use it. But even if it’s not, ask your landlord about problems and pitfalls anyway. Appeal to their honesty (or gently threaten their karma if the first option isn’t working).

Old buildings need permanent maintenance

Is the building so old that it requires permanent maintenance?

Hardly anything compares to the charm of living in Victorian buildings, but there is one catch: old constructions often come with old pipe networks, worn-out stairs, and modern roofs. No matter how lovely such buildings look, mind the maintenance expenses and time you’ll spend to keep them in a livable condition.

When was the house renovated for the last time?

This is especially true for old buildings with leaking roofs, worn-out plumbing, and insecure stairs. If you don’t like spending the first weeks at a new home taking care of fixes and repairs, don’t skip this question.

Who is responsible for apartment maintenance?

This one might not seem important. But only until something happens suddenly, and the next minute, you find yourself rushing around the room without knowing where to run and whom to call. In some cases, landlords prefer to deal with requests on their own. However, some landlords choose to delegate this responsibility to property management companies. Your only goal is, however, to find out what steps you should take when a need for maintenance arises.

Are there enough outlets to plug stuff in?

Given the average number of gadgets people own today, this question is becoming increasingly important, especially if you or one of your future roommates has a telecommuting or freelance job. A home office requires plenty of outlets. Make sure your future home has enough.

Are there any problems with water pressure?

Let me explain to you why it’s important. Imagine yourself coming home after a long, hard day. All you can dream about is having a hot shower and eating food. So you take your clothes off, run the tap, and realize there is no water. There is some water, but the pressure is too low to be called a shower. Yes, things like that happen. Especially with apartments located on the highest floors of old buildings. Especially during busy hours when other people are likely to dream of showering. To avoid unpleasant surprises, find out how intense the water pressure is.

How good is the cellphone signal?

We’re too dependent on smartphones to live in apartments that don’t pass a cellphone signal. Although it doesn’t happen frequently, it is still worth checking. Ask your future landlord, or better yet, test it via a quick call to a family member or a good friend of yours.

What’s the heating situation in winter?

It’s usually not a big deal to install air conditioning if it’s missing, but heating makes things slightly harder. As experience confirms repeatedly, the majority of people forget to clarify the situation when searching for rental homes during the summer. You shouldn’t be the majority. Ask if the heating is shared or individual, how much it costs monthly, etc.

Comfort-Related Questions

What amenities does the property have?

Whether you’re dealing with a homeowner or a property manager, they should be somewhat familiar with what is nearby. Find out if there is a swimming pool, gym, deck, parking, and other things known to make lives better. If you’re renting through online rental platforms, you’re likely to know the details by the time you attend an open house. But if you’re doing an old school house hunting, asking this question is an absolute must.

What are the neighbors like?

Neighbors matter. And if you don’t nod in agreement while reading this, then you’ve never lived close to annoying ones. Some people are such bad neighbors that living close to them will make you want to pull your hair out and flee to a location unknown. Don’t make one of the typical tenant mistakes, and learn as much as possible about your neighbors-to-be.

What is the parking situation?

The cold truth is that we humans are greatly dependent on cars. Vehicles help us solve problems on one hand and create a unique set of issues on the other. Find out if there is a parking or a private garage. And if there is one, don’t be afraid to learn the details. Questions to ask are the following: Is the parking place assigned? What about guest parking? Is it an individual, or will you have to coordinate time with other renters?

What are the traffic patterns during rush hour?

If you like to wake up with beeps coming from your window, feel free to skip this question. But if you don’t, make sure not to leave it unspoken. It’s something you’d better clarify before signing a rental agreement.

What is the atmosphere like at night?

Most open houses take place during daylight hours – and for good reason. However, some serious problems might be impossible to notice unless the sun goes down. For instance, you should learn if headlights come from passing cars’ windows. You’ll also be glad to know if street lights and neon signs shine directly in your bedroom windows. Such details might not look like a big deal at first glance, but they become increasingly annoying over time.

How safe is the neighborhood

Safety-Related Questions

How safe is the neighborhood?

You may be fine living without a rooftop pool or a private entrance, but you should not agree to live in an unsafe neighborhood. Ask your landlord about all the pros and cons of living in this neighborhood and watch the reaction. Unless you’re dealing with a professional actor, you’ll see if something is shady.

Are there any smoke alarms?

Being safe and sound should be everyone’s priority. That’s why asking this question is crucial. According to the latest statistics, only half of Americans have three or more smoke alarms in their homes. Make sure you’re adding up to the statistics, not vice versa.

Have there been any mold problems?

There is nothing good about mold unless it’s expensive cheese we’re talking about. The worst thing about mold is that it looks awful and can wreak havoc on your health. That’s why you should never avoid inspecting your future house for mold presence and asking your landlord about it.

Is the building located in a flood-risk zone?

Although there are modern services that can help you find out if a particular location is a flood risk, you are likely to need more detailed information about your rental property. Ask your landlord if the building has ever been affected by the flood.

Visual Appearance Questions

Can I paint the walls or experiment with home decor?

Hopefully, your landlord-to-be knows that exotic interiors are one of the biggest mistakes landlords can make. But if you enter the property and can almost hear red walls screaming on you, feel free to ask about repainting and making any other changes you can possibly need.

Is the property getting plenty of natural lighting, or does it feel like a cave?

Dark and gloomy apartments are only good for shooting vampire movies. But when it comes to real life, sunlight is crucial. Virtually any property looks better when filled with sunbeams. That’s why you should always ask about natural lighting. Especially if an open house is scheduled for a cloudy day.

What furnishing is included?

This question is especially relevant if you’re attending an open house when other tenants are still living in a property. And it might be hard to imagine an empty room while it’s still packed with other people’s stuff. So don’t shy away from asking what goes in a package with a rental property.

Bonus Question

Where can I dine out once the open house is over?

This question may reveal more information than it may seem at first thought. It’s not as straightforward as asking, ‘Is this neighborhood good for a living?’; that’s why the answer will be more honest and less sales. And, as experience confirms, dining options can tell a lot about the quality of life in a particular neighborhood.

Attending an open house is like having a first date with someone you like. It’s heart-pounding, important, and exciting at the same time. But you shouldn’t let emotions spill over and distract you from the significant purpose of coming. You’re here to learn all the ins and outs of a vacant property and see if there is a spark between you and your home-to-be. Keep this in mind, and may the dream home happen to you soon.

About The Author

1 Comment

  1. Arthur Morrison says:

    These are some great questions; after all, when you’re thinking about buying a house you’ll want to gather as much information as possible and an open house is a great chance to get that info. I particularly like that one of the questions involves the safety of the neighborhood. This could be especially important if you’re moving into the new home with your family and want to know how safe it is for your kids to play outside.

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