You can learn a lot about a home from an Open House. While you’re not going to be climbing through the attic or sticking scopes down the plumbing pipes (leave that to the home inspector), you can still find out plenty about a property just by being vigilant.
The next time you attend an Open House, make sure you keep your eyes peeled on the following.
1. The Neighborhood
Before you even get to the house, be sure to have a look around at the neighborhood in general. If you’re going to consider living in the area, you’ve got to make sure that it fits your lifestyle, whether it’s a quiet or bustling one that you’re looking for. Scope out all the amenities, such as nearby schools, shops, and parks.
While you’re at it, keep an eye out for the neighbors, or at least their homes. You want to see how they take care of their properties, especially those that are adjacent or backing onto the property in question. You’re buying the neighborhood just as much as the home itself, so make sure it’s a place you’ll be happy living in.
2. The Home’s Exterior
While you might want to dart right into the home’s interior, take a walk around the perimeter of the home first to check out the structure’s exterior. Have a look at the siding, brick, or whatever the exterior walls are made of. See if anything is chipping, peeling, or fading. Check out the roof to see what shape it’s in, and look for any cracks in the foundation.
What’s the state of the gutters and exterior windows? What about the driveway and exterior walkways? If there are a number of issues on the exterior that need repair or replacement, you’ll want to take them into consideration if you decide to put in an offer.
3. The Layout
Professional photos posted online may give you a good sense of what the home looks like, but it’s nearly impossible to get a feel of the exact layout of the space, and how it flows. While some homes have a more attractive and practical layout than others, what works for one type of family may not necessarily work for another.
Open concepts are hot these days, but there are still many families that prefer to have rooms sectioned off for more privacy and defined spaces. Some families want all bedrooms on the same floor, while others don’t mind the master taking up its own floor, for instance. It’s important to determine what the exact layout of the home is, and if it’s suitable to your family’s lifestyle.
4. Room Sizes
Many homeowners make descriptive brochures available at open houses which outline a number of pertinent details about the property, including room dimensions. You’ll want to get a good idea of how large the rooms are so you can determine if the furniture you’ve already got will fit in the space or if you’ll have to buy new pieces to accommodate for the room sizes.
If such information is not readily available, ask the real estate agent on site who’s hosting the Open House for these numbers. At the very least, they should be detailed in the actual listing.
Most likely, you’ll want to enjoy the comforts of your home in peace, without constantly being on display. Is the backyard fenced in, or surrounded by hedges? Does the neighbor’s master bedroom window abut the bathroom window of the home you’re checking out? Such issues don’t have to be deal-breakers; there are ways to deal with them, but it’s still a good idea to see what you’re working with.
6. Smells and Stains
Pay special attention to any stains on the floors, walls, and ceilings. These may be signs of major issues, such as roof problems, draining issues, or previous floods. Any moisture in the house can lead to serious issues, such as mold and mildew, which are dangerous to be exposed to for an extended period of time.
Not only will your eyes point to potential issues, but so will your nose. Even if you can’t see any obvious stains, any musty smells will tell you that something may be lurking. Don’t ignore your senses; instead, find out more about what’s behind what you’re seeing and smelling.
7. Closet and Storage Space
Organization is key to keeping your home neat and tidy, but without adequate storage space, your home can get cluttered extremely quickly. During the tour of the home, don’t be afraid to open up every door. You want to see how many closets and storage rooms there are, as well as how much they can house. You now how much stuff you have, so make sure the home is able to accommodate it all before you get emotionally attached to it.
While there’s only so much that you can identify when meandering through a property during an Open House, there’s certainly a lot that can be learned just by being aware of specific issues. Keep the above factors in mind so you know what to look for, and what questions to ask.