Downtown or Suburbs – What’s the Right Scene For You?

Downtown or suburbs? It’s the age-old dilemma that many people face.

Depending on your age and what stage you’re currently at in life, this decision can usually be an easy one. Or it can be a challenging one, especially if kids start entering the picture.

The answer all comes down to your lifestyle, and all the factors that make it up.

But before delving deeper into the conversation about which one is better than the other, it’s worth noting an interesting trend that US cities have been seeing over the recent past.

Recent Shift Out of Suburbia and Into the City

We’re actually seeing a shift in demographics that are choosing city life over quiet suburban living. The ‘American Dream’ has long been to own a home, complete with the white picket fence, double-car garage, and a huge lot. But it seems as though the dream has somewhat evolved.

In fact, for the first time in a century, the majority of the largest cities in the US are growing at a faster pace than surrounding suburbs.

And while millennials and young childless professionals have tended to make up the population landscape in downtown areas, the latest housing numbers are reflecting an uptick in Americans of all ages and statuses trading in their expansive detached homes for high rises. In fact, construction of multiplex residences have reached their highest share of construction in the US since the early 1970s (not including a brief stint in 1985).

It seems that the real estate market is more driven by those who either choose to live in the downtown area, or somewhere in the near outskirts. This trend of multi-family building is happening all over the country.

Migration has been a huge contributor to population growth in all except five of the 50 fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the US. Cities like Austin and Seattle are growing particularly quickly, and city centers have grown faster compared to the US as a whole from 2012 and 2013 (0.9% compared to 0.7%, respectively).

But exactly how long this shift away from the suburbs to the city core will last remains to be seen. And don’t discount suburban living just yet. It’s simply a matter of which traits better suit you and your tastes.

So Which One is Better?

Ultimately, choosing which lifestyle suits you best — and where to buy — comes down to some key considerations.

Your commute to work – How far you live from your place of work is huge factor to consider, and has a big impact on your overall quality of life. It’ll dictate how much earlier you’ll have to leave in the morning, and how much free time you’ll have to spend with the family in the evening.

It typically costs more to live closer to urban centers, so if you want to minimize your frustration of sitting in traffic and maximize your free time spent how you choose, living in the city might seem like the logical choice.

But sometimes commutes from the suburbs can be surprisingly fast. Not only that, but many suburbs have their own set of employment opportunities. If you work in the ‘burbs, there’s really little point of moving to the city.

Space and privacy – What you can afford as far as housing is concerned will be determined by where it’s located. Want a bigger house on a bigger lot? Be prepared to move further away from the city core. This is usually a concern that only folks with kids (or dogs) face – after all, it’s usually the youngins that need more space than the parents.

And if you live for a little quiet and privacy, you’re more likely to get it when you’re not sharing walls with your neighbors.

Social life – For the most part, big cities offer a lot more to do and have more cultural activities compared to the ‘burbs. You probably won’t have a major concert hall or popular nightclub on your block.

If you’re looking for easy access to major cultural events, trendy restaurants, busy nightclubs and swanky shops, then you might be better off living in the city, or at least somewhere close by. Having said that, you might prefer to live somewhere that’s not crowded or expensive, and be willing to travel to do the things that are important to you.


There are all sorts of stereotypes about downtown cores and suburbs, but not all of them are necessarily accurate. You’ve got to take a closer look at the specific areas that you’re considering calling home, and identify what they have to offer you before deciding whether or not it’s a good fit.

Choose carefully; after all, where you buy or rent will play a key role in shaping your overall quality of life.

The discussion about downtown vs. suburbs will always continue. There’s really no right answer. Determining whether the downtown or the suburbs meets your needs and your budget will take a bit of soul searching about exactly what your priorities are.

Jersey Home Where Bruce Springsteen Wrote ‘Born to Run’ on the Market

For $299,000, you can own a piece of rock ’n roll history.

It’s not the kind of ‘celebrity’ home you mind have in mind, but there’s plenty of Hollywood legacy behind the place where The Boss himself penned the infamous album, “Born to Run.”

Bruce Springsteen called this place home for only a year between 1974 and 1975, but what he did within that year would put him on the map. He rented the place after his second album, ‘The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle’, didn’t meet the level of success that he had hoped. So he moved back to his birthplace in Long Branch, NJ, where he hunkered down to write his first real break-out album.

The two-bedroom, one-bathroom home might be small at a mere 828 square feet, but it’s in a great spot. Only a couple of blocks from the beaches of Jersey Shore, this property could make the ideal summer home for vacationers who prefer to stay somewhat close to home when school’s out.

The bungalow – complete with a huge American flag waving off the front porch – seems to be priced at a premium, considering similar homes on West End Court and surrounding streets for sale are listed somewhere between $170,000 and $275,000.

Obviously the value of Springsteen’s history is embedded within the price of the home, and any buyer with an affinity for the legendary rocker would be willing to pay that premium.

The home is even featured (very briefly) in ‘Wings for Wheels: The Making of Born to Run’, a documentary made in 2005. Springsteen was filmed outside the property where he admits was the first house that he ever lived in on his own.

The current owners – hard-core Springsteen fans Jerry Ferrara, Ryan DeCarolis, and Kim McDermott – purchased the home in 2009 for $280,000 with intentions to transform the place into a museum-ish tribute to the “Born in the USA” singer, but that never panned out. According to the owners, they simply never ended up having have the time to keep up the intended preservation of the authentic Springsteen nostalgia. Aside from the new roof, new floors and new siding, the planned renovations never got finished.

They hope the new owners will have somewhat of the same intentions that they did, and will preserve the spirit of Springsteen’s classic album that began here.

Up to now, the prospective buyers who have viewed the home and have expressed some level of interest in it have no intentions of actually living in it. Instead, it seems as though people just want to buy it for its history.

And that’s exactly what the current owners want.








Keeping Your Home Secure During the Holidays

Going home for the holidays? You’ll be in good company: one-quarter of Americans take to the open road – or sky – to reunite with family to celebrate the holidays every year.

Besides meaning a time to enjoy the company of loved ones, it also means that thieves are on the prowl, waiting for families to vacate their homes to provide them with an increased opportunity to steal.

If you want to make sure that all your valuables are protected when you’re gone, you’ll need to take measures to secure your property against break-and-enters. And oftentimes that means making it look as if you’re still at home, even if you’re not.

Put a Hold on Your Newspaper and Mail Delivery

Want to send the message out to thieves that you’re not around for a few days? Let your mail and newspapers pile up. Of course, that’s not what you want to happen, so you’d be well-advised to make a call to put a hold on mail and newspaper delivery until you get back. The local post office can hold your mail for up to 30 days, and the newspaper can be postponed indefinitely.

Set a Timer For Your Lights

When you’re out of town, set a timer for all the lights inside and outside your home. Having an automatic timer will set the lights to come on and off at certain times, making it look as if someone is there. Having said that, you should have a close look at any strings of holiday lights before putting them on a timer. Any cords that are frayed or damaged in some way pose a fire hazard. If that’s the case, go buy yourself some new ones.

Make Sure Everything is Locked Up – Including Your Windows

That goes without saying, right? Who leaves their home – for days at a time, no less – without locking the doors or windows?

Lots of people.

It can happen to the best of us. But if you’re in the habit of leaving your doors and windows unlocked more often than not, the holidays are the perfect time to whip into shape. Start making it a habit of asking yourself certain questions before leaving your house, including whether or not the home is adequately secured and locked up. A well-secured home is more of a deterrent to would-be burglars. The easier you make it for them to get into your home, the better the odds of them taking action.

Install Deadbolts on All Exterior Doors

Make it harder for burglars to break into your home by deadbolting all the doors that lead to the outside. It’s just another hindrance for thieves who are scoping out targets in your neighborhood. Even if you’re only leaving the house for a half hour while you pick up groceries, you should deadbolt your doors every time.

Don’t Advertise Your Vacation on Social Media

People just love posting about all their daily happenings on Facebook and Twitter, whether it’s the new cookie recipe they’ve discovered or how disappointed they were in last’s night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

But one thing you should never post on social media is how much you’re enjoying your vacation abroad. Broadcasting where you are and how long you’ll be there can be a real danger. You’re basically announcing to the world – including criminals – that your home is vacant at the moment.

Keep the fact that you’re nowhere near home offline, and wait until you’re home to post your favorite holiday trip photos.

Install a Home Security System

One of the best things you can do to prevent a break-in during the holidays is to have a professional home security system set up. One of the great things about these systems is that they give you peace of mind knowing that they’re always working – whether you’re asleep, at work, or on vacation. Having your home monitored with a sounding alarm that immediately dispatches the authorities is a fantastic way to ward off thievery.

The holidays are a happy and joyous time – the last thing you want is for this cheerful season to be ruined after having your home ransacked. Take these steps to keep your home and valuables as safe as possible while you’re enjoying your holidays abroad.

5 Weird Color Combos That Totally Work

When decorating an apartment or home, many people naturally gravitate toward neutral wall colors and flooring, adding splashes of color through furniture and furnishings. But in recent years, home decorators have boldly thrown together unusual color combinations that capture attention in new ways. Because they’re so unique, they stand out in a sea of apartments decorated in beiges and browns.

Once you step outside of traditional choices, you can actually find some interesting color combinations that will make your rooms pop. Here are a few combinations that might not be your first choice, but they’ll work in a way that will refine your living spaces and make entertaining fun.

Pink and Black

There’s something very 1950s about this color combination, especially when pink is used as the dominant color. Designers have gotten bolder in recent years, choosing more vibrant pinks that cover more area. This color combination would be perfect for a bedroom or bathroom.

Orange and Blue

These colors seem as though they’re completely wrong for each other, yet the right shades can make all the difference. This home design photo demonstrates how mango can work beautifully with teal blue, even with multiple other colors thrown into the mix. The bright colors will also open up your rooms and create a bright, airy feel to your spaces.

Purple and Gray

Gray is an often-overlooked neutral color, but it has become trendy in recent months. Pairing it with deep purple can really make a room that stands out. You can choose to paint some of your walls in purple or keep most of the room gray, using splashes of purple to make your color statement. This color combination can look great in any room, even primary use rooms like a den or master bedroom.

Lime Green and Pink

Like the other colors, it might not have been a combination you’ve ever considered. But lime green and pink can work in a variety of ways. This color of green can really jump out at you, though, so be sure you know what you’re getting into if you decide to cover most of a large area in the color. Instead you might consider pink as your primary color and green for your furniture or accent pieces.

Navy and Yellow

Navy and yellow have become popular colors for weddings for good reason. The colors play off of each other well. The combination works best with richer colors of yellow, possibly a canary color. For dramatic effect, start by covering all of your room’s walls in navy and adding yellow furniture, with accent pieces that bring both colors together. The contrast will make the brightness of the yellow stand out, adding brightness to your living spaces.

Traditional color combinations can make a home look dated and dull. By freeing up your mind to accept the many other possibilities out there, you can give your space a unique look that endures for many years. Start with your own favorite colors and search for décor ideas that will make them work together, using one color as a primary and the other for furniture and accent pieces.

5 Questions to Ask When Interviewing Real Estate Agents

Buying or selling a home isn’t just like any other transaction – these are the big leagues, which means you need a tried-and-true slugger who will cover all the bases and make sure you walk out of the deal hassle-free and with money in your pocket.

But not every real estate agent is created equal. While it might be easy to just go with the neighbor who just happens to be an agent, or with the broker that your sister used to sell her home, a little more research and due diligence is called for.

You’re not just working with your real estate agent – you’re in a business relationship with them. So make sure the agent you choose is right for you.

Here are a few questions you should be asking prospective agents before signing a contract.

  1. How long have you been an agent?

Sounds like a boring interview question, but it’s a relevant one. The longer the’ve been in the market, the better. Being a good real estate agent is a lot more about real-life experiences than about the initial educational courses taken. And if that agent has worked with a ton of clients that are similar to you and your needs, you’ll be better represented.

There might not necessarily be any magic number as far as number of years of experience is concerned, but you should still keep your eyes peeled for agents who have enough transactions under their belts to easily handle real estate deals from A to Z with little hiccups.

You should also probably consider whether or not the agent you’re interviewing works in the market on a part-time or full-time basis. Lots of agents do this part time and on the side, which means they probably won’t be able to offer the level of expertise and service that a professional who does this every day can.

  1. What areas do you specialize in?

Ideally, you want to work with an agent that works closely in the area that you’re buying or selling in. That way, they’ve got their finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the neighborhood. If you’re buying, they’ll have the inside scoop about which properties are coming up for sale that match your criteria. If selling, they’ll know exactly what buyers are looking for, and will coach you on how to price and present your home accordingly.

Neighborhood expertise is crucial, because different community markets can have different traits and idiosyncrasies. What may be relevant in one specific area may not be in another. For example, the suburbs are much different than city centers. If the agent you’e considering usually works in neighborhoods far from your home, it’s highly possible that he or she isn’t as familiar with your area’s market than necessary.

  1. How will we be communicating with each other?

Being able to stay in touch with your agent at a moment’s notice is important. A lapse in communication of just an hour or two can mean the difference between getting an offer accepted and missing a great opportunity. The agent you team up with should communicate the way it’s most convenient for you, whether it’s via email, phone, or text. It’s the real estate agent’s job is to communicate the way the client wants or needs.

  1. How will you be marketing my home?

You can’t just plant a for-sale sign on your lawn and expect the buyers to come flocking. Marketing a property involves way more than that, and it’s up to you to ask your real estate agent what marketing channels will be used to market your home if you’re selling. Having your home advertised on the MLS is crucial, because it puts your home in front of the eyes of other agents working in your area, as well as buyers who are doing some of their own research.

In addition to the MLS, ask the agent how many other website your home will be listed on. In addition, ask if the listing will be placed in the newspaper, local real estate magazine, or anywhere else where buyers will be looking.

Look at the agent’s past listings, which will show you how well he or she is able to boost the visibility of a property. Also, make sure that the real estate agent you hire uses high-quality images for your online ads, which will show better to prospective buyers in your neighborhood.

  1. Do you work within my home’s price range?

Ideally, your agent should have a decent amount of experience working with homes within your specific price range. That way, your agent will probably have a more skilled ability to see your home through a potential buyer’s eyes. If they’ve got experience dealing with buyers who are looking for properties within the same price range that you’re listing your home at, this will help the agent be more effective at negotiating at the bargaining table.

No matter how formally a real estate agent has prepared a sales pitch to convince you to use their services, make sure that they give you the answers you’re looking for. The agent you’re questioning may be an excellent one, but not necessarily right for you and your specific situation. Be sure to have a list of these questions written down so you don’t miss one, then jot down any additional queries you might have during the interview. The time taken to ask a few questions is well worth it to find the perfect agent.

Can You Combine Two Adjacent Condo Units Into One Larger One?

You love your home, but you’re starting to outgrow it. An obvious possibility is to expand on it – but what if your home is a condominium?

The answer would still be the same – you could still add on to it by purchasing the adjacent unit and combining them to create a much larger area.

Condo units aren’t exactly known for their expansive square footage, for the most part. But that doesn’t mean you have to forego the dream of added space. If your budget allows for it – and so does the condo corporation – you can realistically combine two smaller units into one, much larger and spacious condo.

In fact, this practice has become more popular over the years. In New York City, for instance, approximately 6% of condos are now combinations, compared to 1.5% four years ago. Many condo residents prefer to stay put in their location instead of move away from their favorite local eateries, shops, theaters, and friends. The most common combinations are those that fuse two-bedroom units with studios, as well as adding a convertible studio to a two-bedroom unit.

The Politics Behind Fusing Two Units Together

Unless the condominium corporation’s rules and regulations specifically prohibit combining any units, an owner can legally combine two individual condo units into one, single new unit.

However, this will require an amendment to the association’s declaration.

As an owner of two adjoining units, you’ll most likely need to submit a written application to the condo’s board of managers to request this amendment to the condominium instruments. The amendment would spell out things such as the combined percentage of ownership for the new, larger unit (which is basically the sum of the percentage of ownership for the two individual units), and the new unit number.

The amendment also must include a revised survey plat that shows the combined unit’s boundaries. An approved amendment only needs to be signed by you, the owner of the combined units, rather than requiring approval by a specified percentage of all the owners of the building.

Keep in mind that once it’s all done, you’ll still have two assessments, two utility bills, two real estate tax bills, two condo fees, and quite possibly two mortgages. You’ll probably wind up with two mailboxes, too. This is because the two units are still considered to be separate, legally speaking. The only change in title will be when you buy the second unit, since title will then go into your name when settlement comes about.

Making the Combination Work

Obviously, combining condo units is a lot easier while the building is still under construction. There are more obstacles to overcome when the building is already complete and assumed.

There could be many mechanical or structural constraints to have to deal with and overcome, for starters. It can be a real challenge to combine two units when you’re dealing with two different mechanical systems.

For instance, two kitchens might not be conducive to smooth and functional flow between two units. And in old buildings where kitchens are backed up against each other and use the same plumbing, it can be nearly impossible to split this plumbing to make one larger kitchen.

The key is getting yourself a contractor that’s experienced with this type of unique construction. He or she will analyze the configuration of both units and tell you if a fusion between the two is possible, and if it will result in an attractive, functional unit.

You’ve got to make sure that your plan is air-tight so that the final product is well-configured. Any mismatched flooring, fixtures, wood tones, and other finishes will just devalue the new unit and make it a lot more difficult to recoup the investment when it comes time to sell.

As with any other type of real estate undertaking, it’s important to consult with an experienced real estate agent when you’re planning a move like this. You’ll get expert advice on whether or not such an endeavor is feasible, and if you’ll be able to recoup the cost associated with it as far as property value is concerned. Combining two condo units into one is a time-consuming and potentially complex project, but if done properly, you could end up with a unit that fits your tastes and lifestyle, and still holds its value.

5 Fastest Growing Cities Across the U.S.

When it comes to booming cities in the US, the south is taking over – more specifically, Texas. In fact, three of the top 5 cities with the fastest population growth are located in the southern state.

While obvious central metropolises like New York City and San Francisco still continue to experience growth year after year, their numbers pale in comparison to what we’ve been seeing in Texas over the recent past.

Texas continues to be a hub for employment in the tech, education and health care industries, and offers residents plenty of affordable real estate, making the Lone Star State attractive to home buyer hopefuls.

The following are the top 5 fastest growing cities across the US.

  1. South Jordan, Utah

The Salt Lake City suburb is located in the middle of the Oquirrh Mountains and the Wasatch Mountains, which gives residents phenomenal views. For years, South Jordan has been growing rapidly, with the current population now sitting at nearly 63,000 thanks to the annual growth rate of 5.7%. The city is famous for its plethora of parks (27 to be exact), which boast fishing finds, walking trails, and plenty of other natural features. Outdoorsy folks will certainly find South Jordan heaven on earth.

  1. Frisco, Texas

The population growth in Frisco has largely been driven by the economic and population growth in nearby Dallas. With a yearly growth rate of 5.8%, Frisco is actually having a tough time keeping up with such a rapid influx of new residents, which now tops 145,000. Over fours year, four new high schools were built in the city to accommodate the booming growth of the young student demographic. Both Forbes and CNN have named Frisco as one of the best US cities to live in.

  1. Doral, Florida

Located just outside of Miami, Doral has been exploding in population over the past 15 years, with a total now over 54,000. With an annual growth rate of 7.0%, the city blew through Census Bureau estimates. Local developers are currently building mixed-used projects that will turn this city into a walkable and shop-heavy version of nearly Miami. The southern city has a large Latino presence, particularly of Venezuelan heritage, which is why the city is dubbed “Doralzuela” by the locals. In fact, the mayor of Doral is the first of Venezuelan heritage in Florida.

  1. Georgetown, Texas

At an annual growth rate of 7.5%, Georgetown takes second spot on the list of fastest growing cities in the US. Much of the population growth is due to the overall increase of residents all throughout the Austin area, as Georgetown is only about 40 minutes north of the major metropolis. Since the year 2000, the population here has doubled. The 59,100 residents that call Georgetown home enjoy the historic Victorian-area architecture as well as the annual Red Poppy Festival that characterizes the unique town.

  1. San Marcos, Texas

San Marcos is only about an hour away from Austin, which itself has seen a huge spike in population increase over the past few years. With an annual population growth of 7.9%, San Marcos easily takes top spot for the fastest growth rate of any city last year. It now has well over 58,000 residents calling the city home, which is largely contributed to the booming student population who attend Texas State University. The vibrant and bustling downtown area is also an attraction for those looking for more affordable housing while still being close to big city amenities. The city has also topped other lists as well, including “Most Exciting Small Cities in America” and ”Best Place to Raise Your Kids.”

What may be most surprising about this list is that these cities aren’t exactly massive. In fact, you’ve probably never even heard of some of them. Though these cities aren’t tiny by any means with populations over 50,000, the rate at which they are growing is much more prominent compared to growth in the 1 million+ group. The Texan cities on this list have most likely been riding the coattails of their neighboring large cities – Austin, Houston and Dallas – helping to spark the huge influx of new residents. Nevertheless, these cities may have started off small, but they’ve grown immensely over the past few years, and are showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.

8 Clever Moving Tips to Cut Down on Time and Hassle

Just the mere thought of having to pack the entire house and move it all to a new destination can seem like a daunting task. And it can be if you don’t plan ahead and use simple yet effective strategies to ease the burden. Here are 8 savvy packing and moving tips to make the haul a cinch.

  1. Throw Junk Out – Don’t Pack it

Keep this golden rule in mind before you pack certain items: if you haven’t used it over the past year, you most likely never will. If that’s the case, there’s no sense in packing these never-used items and moving them into your new home, only for them to just take up precious space for nothing.

Most likely, the home you’re moving out of has accumulated quite a bit of ‘stuff’ since you’ve lived there – odds are, a lot of it doesn’t have to be dragged along with you. Instead, create a pile for donation, and a pile for the trash. Getting rid of unused things will drastically cut down on the time and effort needed to pack and move all of your belongings on moving day.

  1. Wrap Your Delicates in Clothing or Towels Instead of Bubble Wrap

Any fragile items – such as glassware, dishes, porcelain figurines, etc – will obviously need extra care and padding when storing them for the big move. But rather than using bubble wrap for this purpose, consider using clothing instead.

First of all, bubble wrap can get pretty expensive, especially with the hoards that you’ll be needing. Secondly, your clothing and linens need to be packed anyway – why take up extra space with bubble wrap when your clothes can serve a purpose?

  1. Use Bags Instead of Boxes

How much space do boxes take up in a moving truck? A lot. How expensive are they? Very. Consider using durable bags instead of boxes when possible.

Not everything in your home is square-shaped and fits perfectly inside a box. Rather than counting on boxes for all of your belongings, throw some bags into the mix. And if you’ve got any suitcases, use these to pack large and bulky items, like your comforters, pillows, and sweaters, which tend to take up a lot of space.

  1. Use Clear Bins For Essential Items

Think about all the items that you’ll need the first day and night that you’ll be in your new home. Things like your toothbrush, shampoo, phone charger, laptop, and other items will be needed within hours of moving. Skip the frustration of looking through every box by storing these must-haves in a clear plastic bin to help you find things a lot easier and faster.

  1. Take Photos

You’d be amazed at how quickly you’ll forget how certain shelves were arranged, such as your glasses and dishes. Your shelves may be stacked and organized so perfectly in your old home, but this arrangement will be tough to copy after you’ve taken everything down and stuffed them into moving boxes.

The same can be said for your electronics – taking photos of the cords on the back of your TV and other gadgets will make it a lot easier to remember where they all belong. This will save you both time and hassle.

  1. Don’t Leave Important Documents With the Mover

Crucial papers, like your passports, birth certificates, bank statements, purchase agreements, or any other paperwork with sensitive information on it should be kept with you, and not the movers. These are the last things that you want to go missing during the move.

  1. Leave the Garage Empty

You’ll probably be tempted to fill the garage or attic at your new place with all your boxes that you moved from your old house. Do yourself a favor, and resist this temptation. While your intention may be to deal with them ‘at some point’ in the near future, this usually tends to turn into ‘never.’

Just like we said earlier – if you can go months – or longer – without using certain things, it’s safe to say they can be discarded. If not, you’ll be parking your vehicle on the driveway.

  1. Color Coordinate Your Boxes/Rooms

Labeling boxes is a classic moving trick, and it’s an absolute must. But you can make things even easier on yourself by color coordinating the boxes for each room in the house.

For instance, assign blue for the master bedroom and orange for the kitchen, and so on.

Use colored stickers on each box near the number you’ve designated for each. Once you get to your new home, place a matching sticker on each room’s door. That way the movers will know exactly where each box goes when they finally get there.

Moving isn’t exactly glamorous, nor is it simple. But you can definitely take steps to make it as stress-free and easy as possible so you can spend more time enjoying your new digs.

Private Showings Vs. Open Houses: Which Wins?

On the prowl for new digs? Before you sign on the dotted line, you’re going to want to have a chance or two to scope out a few places in detail first. That means you’ll either want to schedule a private showing, or visit an open house. But which route should you take to find out if that home is right for you?

Let’s dig deeper to find out which of the two is a better approach for you when you’re ready to buy a house.

The Open House

If you’re not ready to buy just yet, and aren’t sure about exactly which neighborhood you want, open houses can be great.

Open houses can be an effective way to chat up the listing agent and find out important information about the home, and even the sellers. You might be able to find out why the sellers are moving in the first place – whether it’s a job relocation, divorce, or other reason. If you discover that the seller is highly motivated, you may have more negotiating power when it comes to wheeling and dealing on an offer.

Open houses can give you access to a lot more pertinent information than you might think. Besides getting to stroll around every room of a home and scoping out all the details, you can also get a sense of the competition that you might be facing and get a grasp of prices in the area.

Assessing the type of traffic might be tough to figure out, however. If there are tons of people venturing in and out of the house you happen to be in too, it could mean that there is some serious interest in that particular property, and that you may need to think about whether or not you should be putting in an offer before someone else does. On the other hand, the traffic could be just a bunch if nosy neighbors or people who enjoy spending their Sundays having a gander at how others live.

The Private Showing

When it comes to really getting a sense of what a home is like, you’ll ideally want to have a private showing scheduled. That way, you can take your time looking about without having to be distracted and interrupted by hoards of traffic.

It’ll also give you a chance to speak frankly about the property with your agent, come up with a strategy for submitting an offer, and ask all the pertinent questions about the place that you might be apprehensive about asking with others within earshot of your conversation.

Scheduling a showing also allows you to see the exact house you want, when you want (for the most part). There’s no need for the home buying process to be a crap-shoot – instead, you can schedule a showing for a particular home you are interested in, during a time frame that’s more convenient for you.

Private showing allow you the freedom to really explore a home, which you usually can’t do during an open house. It would be sort of awkward to crawl into attic spaces or turn on faucets and flush toilets with a bunch of strangers around. With private showings, you can eliminate this concern.

At the end of the day, whether or not an open house or price viewing is better than the other depends on how serious you are about buying. If you’re half-hearted about purchasing, then start off with an open house or two. But of you’ve already scoped out a bunch of listings and have gained a focused sense of what you want, and you’re ready to make the move, private showings are absolutely the way to go.