Show days can tell you a lot more about a property than just its layout or perhaps the condition of its roof – provided you ask the right questions.
So says Berry Everitt, MD of the Chas Everitt International property group, who believes prospective buyers should not be afraid to ask, for example, whether the agent has already had any offers on the property that the seller has rejected.
“The answer to that question should give you a good idea of how other people have responded to the property and whether the seller is willing to negotiate. And that should help you to decide if you’re really interested in buying this property and if so, how to frame an offer that the seller is likely to accept.”
But before you do that, he says, you should also ask how long the property has been on the market. If it is getting a little “tired”, the seller might be open to a lower offer. Alternatively he or she might be holding out for an unrealistic price, in which case you should probably just move on to your next prospect.
Prospective buyers attending show days should also ask, Everitt says, why the current owners of the property are selling. “The agent showing the house might not want to discuss this, but on the other hand the sellers might not mind you knowing that they are urgently relocating to another city for work, or that they are a bit uncertain about when their new home will be ready and would appreciate some flexibility around occupation dates.
“And again, any information that you can glean will help you decide whether to make an offer and what terms might make it more acceptable to the seller.”
“This, too, is information that you can request on a show day. You can ask to see a comparative market analysis (CMA) showing the price and other details of similar homes recently sold in the same area, which is what the bank will also use as the basis for assessing the ‘market value’ of the property.
“If the agent does not have a CMA immediately available, he or she should be willing to get one to you within a day or two after the show day – along with the other documentation you should ask to see before you make an offer.
“This includes any certificates of compliance applicable to the property (electrical,plumbing and gas are now standard), the conduct rules and the current financial statements if the property is in a sectional title complex or estate, the latest account from the local authority showing that rates and utility payments are up to date, and preferably, a copy of the title deed so you can check that there are no awkward servitudes or restrictions applicable to the property.”
Then finally, Everitt says, you should use show days as an opportunity to gather whatever information you can about the area, its community and any crime fighting initiatives, and its schools, shops and public transport – “bearing in mind that location is just as important, if not more so, than the state of the property you came to see”.