As a real estate agent in San Francisco, I spend many of my weekends at open houses. If you’re in the market to buy a home in San Francisco and have attended open houses, you know just how busy, and sometimes downright overcrowded, they can be as buyers clamor to see the too-few properties on the market.
Here in San Francisco mid-week evening open houses, called Twilight Tours, have become more and more common. The listing agent will hold the property open in the early evening for buyers and neighbors, usually for an hour to an hour and a half.
I always suggest to my clients that this can be the best time to see homes and encourage them to make time to attend if at all possible. There are a few benefits to attending evening open houses:
- You can actually SEE the property: At many weekend open houses, it’s difficult to get a real “feel” for the details of the property because of the sheer numbers of people in the home, along with a mad rush to see every open house meeting your criteria in a couple of hours. Some open houses are so busy that all you can really tell is what the home would be like if you had 50 or so strangers over for a party to look through the closets.
Evening open houses tend to be much less busy, so you can really get a thorough look at the place (particularly now in the summer months when it stays lighter longer), and you’ll be amazed by how many more details you notice when there are 5 people in the home vs. 25. It’s also easier to do a more thorough look at the important “nuts and bolts” of the home, like the foundation, furnace, hot water heater, etc. when you’re not worried that you’ve blocked 3 other cars in because parking is bananas from so many people rushing through to see the home.
- You can learn a lot about the property: Particularly if the listing agent is the one hosting the open house (which is not always the case). With fewer people to attend to, they can take time to answer your or your agent’s questions without being interrupted. They may share info with you about the history of the home or what the sellers really loved about it. (Info you can use in a strong letter to the seller if you write an offer). And the listing agent will have a much easier time remembering who you are when they see your offer come across their desk.
- · You can learn more about the neighborhood: Let’s face it, getting out of the office on a weeknight to see a home can be a challenge depending on your job and commute. But once there, it’s a great chance to also check out your possibly-future neighborhood. You don’t have the urgency of getting to 3 or 4 other properties in the next hour, so you can take your time at the home and then take some time exploring its surroundings. Post-evening open houses are a great time to check out a local restaurant, or just walk around to get to know the neighborhood. You can see what it’s like there on a “regular night,” what the parking would be like when you got home or had guests over, the noise or activity level, and the general ebb and flow of the area.
Of course, having a private showing is best when possible, so your agent should be working hard to set these up for you. But with such an enormous investment, it’s also a good idea to see the property as many times as possible before writing an offer. What an evening open house offers is the opportunity to view a home for the first or second (or third) time with less people milling in and out, get better attention from the listing agent, and explore your potential future neighborhood.
If you are considering buying a home in San Francisco, be sure to give me a call!
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