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Open houses are dotting the neighborhoods across metro Detroit, and that’s a sure sign that spring is almost here. With winter weather winding down, people are ready to start anew — and for some, that means looking for a new home.

Open houses make it easy to find the home of your dreams. There are no appointments to schedule — all you need to do is show up.

Here are some ways to make the most of your open house experience.

Make a plan

Weekends are prime time for open houses, but that doesn’t mean you should go to every open house you see. If you visit too many homes at one time, you will have a difficult time remembering what stood out in which home — and why.

Instead, make a plan to go to no more than three open houses in one day, and be sure to take photos and jot down notes at each one. If you like what you see, schedule a follow-up showing and bring a family member or friend whose opinion you trust.

But most of all — trust your instincts. If you visit a house early in the day that you can imagine yourself living in, don’t be afraid to return the same day for a second look. Sometimes you know right away when you’ve found the right home.

Envision your future home

Not every house looks the way you’d like. There may be distracting wallpaper, unsightly paint colors and outdated furniture — and that’s just to start. Don’t let the decor deter you from making an offer. Most of these things are simply cosmetic.

In new-construction homes, it’s easier to envision your space — it’s a blank slate. And that’s especially true of move-in ready homes, which allow you to go from signing a contract to getting ready to close in about a month.

For a limited time, Toll Brothers is offering savings and incentives on move-in ready homes during its Open House Event, which runs March 9-17. The new home communities include Westridge Estates, Hamlet Pointe and Hamlet Meadows in Canton; Ridgeview Villas in Novi; Montcaret and Dunhill Park in Northville; and Kensington Woods, North Oaks and Trailwoods in Ann Arbor. Incentives vary by community, so buyers should contact their community of interest for more information.

Factor in updates and renovations

Paint colors, carpet and tile can easily be updated. But bathrooms and kitchens are much more difficult to change — and far more costly. Consider the cost of replacing a kitchen and bathroom on top of the sale price of the home. Is it worth the cost, time and effort — or does it make sense instead to purchase a new-construction home? Either way, the cost for updates and renovations should be factored into your budget. Make note of these during the open house.

If you’re purchasing a new home from a nationally recognized company like Toll Brothers, you may even have an opportunity to choose your cabinets and flooring as well as customize your countertops and lighting systems depending on the construction timeline.

Talk to the experts

Open houses are the best time to ask a real estate agent or sales representative questions about the neighborhood, the schools, and the amenities, as well as the motivation of the sellers and any other concerns. Love the home but aren’t sure about the discoloration on the ceiling? It could be water damage — or just a bad paint job. The only way to know is to ask.

Open houses can give you insight about the sellers’ motivation for listing the home — maybe it’s a growing family or a new job out of town — and information that you can use when writing an offer. Some buyers include a note with the offer to help sway the sellers’ decision. Knowing more about the sellers can help you write a convincing offer letter.

If you’re purchasing a new-construction home, a sales manager will walk you through every step of the home-buying process, give you an opportunity to customize certain features of the home and explain the financing and contract details. It couldn’t be easier.

Gauge the activity in the home

When going to an open house, ask yourself: Is the home packed with people eager to learn more? Watch for signs from other would-be buyers — they might notice something you don’t. And if they seem eager to make an offer and you’re very interested as well, don’t delay. With older homes, especially those in desirable neighborhoods, you could end up in a bidding war with several other buyers.

For new-construction homes, listen carefully to what people are saying. Getting other prospective buyers’ feedback is an incredible opportunity — and one that you’ll only experience by visiting an open house.

Ready to find the home of your dreams? Visit tollbrothers.com/MI to find open house listings in your desired locations.

Members of the editorial and news staff of The Detroit News were not involved in the creation of this content.

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