Open season

It's the season for open houses. My wife and I take full advantage of this. Voyeurs? Perhaps. But we are also smart house buyers.

Consider it tire-kicking for houses. We scan the local paper for the local open houses. There are always a few on every weekend. Is there one in a neighborhood we're interested in? Great! Off we go.

Now, you might think we are just getting a chance to peek into homes we wouldn't otherwise see. Well, there's some truth to that. Haven't you ever wondered about that place down the street? However, it's as harmless as cruising the car lots looking for something to catch your eye, and a heck of a lot more informative if you might be in the market to buy or sell a home.

You see, you get a chance to understand how much it costs for the home of your dreams, and what kind of money lines up with what kinds of features. You also get an idea of what kinds of things other people put value on. This kind of information can be very helpful when you are ready to sell. It can help you decide between that big soaker bath tub (probably not worth the investment) and that kitchen renovation (probably worth the investment).

Aside from everything else, it can give you some great decorating ideas. That's what my wife says.

I believe that the more we know about the housing market, and the going prices of properties that we would find desirable, the better prepared I am to make a move if the right thing comes up. My wife and I will know it when we see a good property at a hot price. We'll also know exactly how much our own home is worth, by comparing it with these other properties that we've viewed.

Most folks would be willing to research any other large purchase. How long did you agonize over your stereo or your car? Your home is worth many times more. A little window shopping to keep you up to date is a good investment of your time, and it can be rather fun!

We'll be seeing you at the open houses.


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