An open house gives you a great opportunity to look more closely at Bethesda home that you might be interested in buying. It also lets you chat with the owner or real estate agent so you can bring up any issues or hesitations you have about the home. Here are some sample questions to ask at the next open house you attend so that you get the real inside scoop on that dream property – whether it is a condo in Friendship Heights at the Willougby or a gorgeous new home in Eagle Ridge in Avenel.

Why has the seller decided to sell now?

If you ask why the seller is moving, you could learn valuable information to help determine your offer — or possibly whether or not you want to buy the home.

Knowing that the owners are about to go into foreclosure, have had trouble with the neighbors’ barking dog, or that they have just retired and completely paid off the home can help you understand how urgently they need to sell their property.

Has the seller had any other offers?

Don’t forget that you are not only negotiating with the seller for a price, you are also competing with other potential buyers. You need to know what you are up against. It is important to understand that you might not get a truly honest answer to this question as most sellers know that competition – or perceived competition – can cause a potential buyer to move forward more quickly and at a higher price. If you’re comfortable in this discussion, you might want to try and see if you can find out the details of any other offers. Go for it! The worst that happens is you don’t get an answer to your question.

Does the property have special ownership costs?

Ask the agent or owner about the other costs associated with owning the property, such as Home Owners Association fees within a condo complex or a gated community. It’s important to know about these extra expenses in advance so you can make an informed offer. You may also want to ask about any pending litigation concerning the property. Litigation is not always a deal killer, but it’s better to know the details before you sign closing documents. I recently had difficulty closing a deal with a property in Kenwood Forest this month because the condo association is being sued by a past owner for water damage from the leaky washing machine of the next door neighbor. The lender, Eagle Bank, had to see documentation demonstrating that the resultant mold had been remediated, and the property had sold three years previously.

What furniture and appliances are being sold with the house?

Most of the time, a seller will include their major appliances such as the refrigerator, stove and dishwasher with the home, but this isn’t always the case. It is not unusual for sellers to take their washers and dryers, but I recently saw a refrigerator that the seller had to take with her. It was a wedding gift. If you don’t already have these items, it’s important to know whether they are included in the purchase price.

Is there anything else that you want the sellers to leave with the home?

This is an important question to ask, especially if there are specific things in the home that you have a strong interest in. Perhaps there is custom art work or a pool table that fits perfectly in the game room. The seller may be eager to part with those items and include them in the sale of the home or sell them at a large discount.

The open house is a great opportunity to learn more about a home before making the decision to buy it, so be sure you ask the right questions.