It is Sunday afternoon, the signs and balloons are on every street corner – time to head to open houses! You walk into a freshly air-conditioned home, the smell of vanilla candles, light music playing. It is easy to get distracted by the glamorous staging and cute decor of the home. But don’t be so easily fooled. You want to look beyond the surface of the home’s appearance to determine if it will be a good match for your needs.
If you plan on looking at more than one open house, take lots of notes to make sure you remember what makes one home stand out more than the next. Write down both the positive and negative thoughts you had while visiting the home
What details should you be looking for as a home buyer at an open house?
– Floorplan – Is there a good flow to the home? Is there ample space for your lifestyle – play area for kids, a spare room for the office, enough storage space?
– Look up! – Check the ceiling, walls, and seams of the house for any damage. This can be proof of previous water or structural issues.
– Walk the exterior – See the condition of the roof and siding. Every home has some normal wear and tear but keep an eye out for obvious signs of damage or neglect. Are there rain gutters? A photovoltaic system?
– The Neighbors – You’re not just purchasing a home, you’re buying into a neighborhood. Look carefully at the people you might be living next to, as this will affect your home value in the future. They also can provide some enlightening information about what it’s like to live there. What is the noise level outside like? Take note of anything that doesn’t sit right with you.
– The Competition – What is the foot traffic like at the open house? Is there a line out the door or is the Realtor® overly excited to see you? This will help you gauge how competitive you should be in placing an offer.
– Talk with the hosting Realtor® – Ask them your lingering questions. Check on any homeowner association fees and rules. Ask what is motivating the seller to sell.
Don’t feel intimidated. Even if you’re not quite ready to buy, open houses are a great way to start exploring your options in the housing market. You can get a better feel for the neighborhood, style of homes, and your personal design preferences. The more homes you are able to see, the more confident you will be when it comes to making your final decision. Open houses are a great opportunity for buyers to roam and look at their own pace.