Whether you are in the market for a new home or just starting to think about it, an open house is a great way to get started. We’ve been to thousands and have hosted thousands and we can tell you they are worth it!
If you know what to look for, open houses can help you figure out what you want and don’t what in a house (we think those are equally important). They can also give you a feel for what’s on the market and what you will be able to afford.
However… (INSERT BIG FLASHING CAUTION SIGN HERE!)… while a house may be staged to look like your dream home every home has it’s own set of issues. Don’t be so distracted by the perfectly staged rooms that you forget to look for a few key things.
We’ve put together this handy checklist to help you out.
INSIDE THE HOUSE: What you can see:
Windows – Windows can tell you a lot about a home.
- Look at the direction they face to see how much light you’ll get during the day.
- Look out the window at the view. Does it give you privacy or can your neighbor see in?
- Look at the glass to see if there is any condensation on the inside. That could indicate they will need to be replaced.
Electrical Outlets – Are there enough for your lifestyle? What about placement? Picture your furniture in a room and ask yourself if it the outlets will work with what you have in mind.
Storage Space – Is there enough closet space? What about in the kitchen? Extra storage anywhere in the house? Consider not just the amount of space but where it is located.
INSIDE THE HOUSE: What you can’t see
Under Rugs – Lift up any rugs to check the condition of the floor underneath.
Water Pressure – It’s ok to turn on a fawcett or even the shower to see how much water pressure a home has.
Attic – If the house has one, make sure it’s well insulated.
CAUTION: Be aware, if you notice a strong smell of cleaning products or air fresheners the sellers may be trying to mask the smell of pets, smoke or mildew.
OUTSIDE THE HOUSE
The Neighbors. Ok, you aren’t buying the neighbors but you will have to live with them. Take a look at how they care for their home/yard. Do they have kids? Depending on your family situation this could be a pro or a con. What about pets?
The neighborhood. We recommend walking the neighborhood to get a true feel of where you could be living before you put in an offer. If you see a neighbor outside, stop and talk to them. Ask them how they like living in that neighborhood.
For sale signs. If you see lots of for sale signs in a neighborhood it’s worth taking a closer look. Is crime an issue? Is there a new development coming that is making people want to leave?
You don’t want to be stuck in an area where you aren’t safe or are frustrated every day.
Open houses are a good way for buyers to earn a lot about a home since the listing agent will be there to answer your questions immediately.
After a few open houses you’ll have a more realistic set of expectations regarding your budget AND what you can and can’t live without. You’ll learn not to fall in love with the smell of cookies or be turned off by easy fixes like a paint color.