How to "Open House"


Summer is ending, and prospective buyers have been anxiously awaiting the green light to go peeping the new Fall inventory that is just now coming to market.


Are you comfortable with the pre-war powder room right in your kitchen? Are there closets everywhere there ought to be? Are the room dimensions adequate and do they have windows? With careful pre-analysis, you can often rule out a problematic property without hopping all the way across town.

​​​​​​​Test your skills on the floorplan challenge below 👇🏼    


As you visit your carefully vetted properties, remember to be the most charming and positive attendee at every open house on the list. Even if you have doubts or criticisms, keep them to yourself and discuss them later, privately, with your broker. Should there be multiple offers, it's important that the listing agent believes you to be easygoing and 100% confident. Anything less could cost you a bidding war. 


If you are viewing an apartment with window AIR CONDITIONING this Fall, the units may have already been uninstalled, and it's easy to forget how their appearance and function may affect your impression of the home. Central AC is the holy grail in an NYC apartment, but installing it can be costly and many pre-war buildings don’t even allow it. Find out in advance.

If the wrong mode of AC is a dealbreaker, ask your broker to flag only the hot properties for you so that you can narrow your choices ahead of time.


Contracts of sale require all systems and appliances to be in working order, however WINDOWS are very often excluded. So it's possible that this viewing may be your only chance to subtly check their functionality. Take detailed pictures and measurements of landmarked windows if you are going to be repairing or replacing them. This can be a complicated process that will likely require hiring the building's approved vendor.    


If there isn't already LAUNDRY in the unit, ask your broker ahead of time whether the building permits their installation. With luck, the answer will be "not no" (that’s real estate speak for yes, because approval is never promised until all the hoops have been jumped through by you and your licensed plumber). Next, look at the floorplan for the right location, like in a closet adjacent to plumbing coming from the kitchen or a bathroom.

Don't wait until you walk through the door to find out that your must-have can't be had or YOU will be the grouch.


Visit the BASEMENT to see the gym, the storage, and to get an overall sense of the organization and cleanliness of the building. Count the cucarachas. Push a couple of extra buttons on the elevators to see other landings and how the hallways are kept.


Take a tape measurer or laser and make note of the ceiling height which is usually not on the listing, and any key dimensions like the wall for the bed, the TV, or a particular piece of art. Do the hair wash test in the shower to make sure your elbows won't hit the glass if you don't shower sideways (my non-NYC readers probably think I am joking and I am most certainly not).


The doorman arrive early. Lurk in the lobby and chat them up. There are many types of questions that brokers are not allowed to answer, but a doorman's gossip knows no bounds. Is the super sadistic? Are the board members feuding or the neighbors hoarding? Make the most of your visit by getting the inside scoop, even before you get down and dirty during due diligence with your attorney.

You may only have 1 shot

to assess a major life purchase, so a calculated approach is key.
While all of these tips can be very useful filters, finding flaws doesn’t always constitute grounds for rejection. Will the open dishwasher bang into a column and block you from simultaneously standing at the sink as mine does? Perhaps. And you may buy the place anyways because sometimes you don't know the compromises you are prepared to make until they bash you in the knee, and you may fall in love with a home that didn't wow you on paper.
Nonetheless, if you can streamline your viewings with thoughtful planning, you will be in your dream apartment that much sooner.  
So keep a close eye on your Compass Collection, and I will see you soon.


What's "wrong" with this apartment by looking at the floorplan below?  Scroll below for the answer.

ANSWER: Imagine you are having a private moment in the primary bathroom (which is incorrectly labeled Master vs. Primary), so you have locked the door. Now your partner is trapped in the bedroom until you are done!

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