With all of the listing sites available, browsing homes online can become addictive. Even if you’re not in the market to buy or sell a home, you may find yourself scanning the internet for homes that you do not intend to buy or are completely out of your price range. Not only does this help pass the time, but it is also a fun way to spend your time.  Instead of simply perusing the web for a home, why not visit them in person?  If you think you need a realtor to go to an open house, or you have to be in the market to buy a home to visit an open house, think again. Attending an open house can be a beneficial endeavor for your future home buying experience. So before you discount the idea, here are a few things to consider.

Is it okay to attend an open house without a realtor?

You might be wondering, “Do I need a realtor to go to an open house?” The first thing that may deter you from going to an open house is that you think you need to go with an agent. While many buyer’s agents recommend booking with them ahead of time to visit a home, realtors are used to prospective buyers stopping by open houses. An open house allows prospective buyers to see what’s available in certain markets. So, if you’re not ready to partner with an agent, it’s completely okay to attend open houses alone.

Discover what you can afford

The homes you’re attracted to and which homes you can afford might be two completely different things. Often, first-time homebuyers don’t get a good idea of what they can afford until they are deep into the home-buying process. They might be searching for something that doesn’t even exist. Therefore, the sooner you can understand what type of homes are available within your price range, the better chance you have of successfully finding a home that matches your expectations and budget.

While you can type in a desired area, price range and other specifics online, the experience of visiting the home might be quite different from the information shared in the listing. Getting up close and personal with homes that may interest you will give you a better idea of what to expect when you begin your home-buying process. This way, you will be more prepared when you start looking for your perfect home.

Check out the competition

The number of guests attending an open house can indicate how fast you need to make an offer when you find a home you’re interested in. It can also tell you how you need to price your home in order for it to sell quickly. While some housing markets can allow a few days to make a decision, others may only give you a few hours to submit your offer. Even though this may not matter now since you don’t intend to purchase the home, it may help you later when you’re ready to submit an offer. The more information you can gather, the better you’ll be able to navigate your home-buying process.

See realtors in action

Even if you don’t identify the home of your dreams, you might be able to connect with a realtor who can help you find your dream home. Visiting open houses gives you the perfect opportunity to interview realtor candidates, without them even knowing you are looking for an agent. This gives you the ability to see how different realtors represent their clients and if they might be a good match for you. You should also come with insightful questions about the market to determine how knowledgeable the agent is.

Observe home design trends

Generally, sellers try to make a great first impression when hosting an open house. Some sellers may even make some updates or hire a staging company before they list their home. Sellers tend to rely on the guidance of their realtor or the design trends happening within the market. Therefore, when you attend an open house, you can get an idea of what home designs you’ll see. It will give you an idea of what you’re attracted to and things you may look for when buying a home. Also, it may give you some inspiration for updates to your current home that will make it feel like new.

Get familiar with neighborhoods that interest you

Buying a home is about more than the property itself. It’s important to find a home and community that suits your lifestyle. For example, if you want to start a family, you may want to buy a home in a good school district with parks close by. Therefore, this is the perfect time to start learning about nearby communities that could be a match for your needs. You can begin by observing the residents and vibe of the communities you’re interested in before you actually begin the home buying proces

Learn more about your needs

Often, it’s challenging to know what you truly want in a property before you start searching for a home. For instance, how many bedrooms do you want? Are you okay with a first-floor master? What amenities are you looking for? Viewing other homes will give you an idea of different layouts and amenities that interest you.

The bottom line

Regardless of whether you’re buying or selling a home, you should visit as many open houses as you’d like. You don’t need to bring a realtor. Just hop in your car or take a walk down the street to get a better idea of what homes make sense for your lifestyle