If you’re on the hunt for a new home, that may involve visiting one, or two or half a dozen open houses. Some choose to visit open houses even if they are not ready to buy just so they have an idea of what the market has to offer when the time to purchase does come along. Whatever your reason for frequenting open houses, it’s important that you are looking for and noticing the right things so that you can make an informed decision.
If you are working with a realtor, they will likely draw your attention to these items, but for those who are navigating the residential real estate waters on their own, here are six things you should pay close attention to during an open house:
- The neighbours and neighbourhood – When you buy a house, you also are buying into its neighbourhood and the people in it, so take the time to walk down the street. Look at how well homes are cared for, how much traffic goes by, transit options if that’s important to you and demographics. If you have little kids, it’s nice to be on a street with other children.
- The exterior – Before or after touring the inside, free to walk around the perimeter of the home, checking the foundation, eavestroughs, condition of walkways, decks and patios, paint on window sills and/or siding, etc.
- The walls – Inside, keep a close eye on the walls. Nail holes and paint in need of an update is not an issue; you want to look for any signs of major cracking. This could be an indication of structural problems.
- Smells – Believe it or not, nasty odours rank as one of the top factors in deterring a home sale. Strong smells from pets, tobacco and food scents can be a major turn off and might not be as easy to eradicate as you think. In some situations, it may be necessary to remove carpet and window coverings and paint walls to get rid of strong smells. Learn to recognize the smell of mould as well – mould is likely a symptom of expensive water damage.
- The big ticket items – Ask the listing salesperson about the age of the roof, furnace, plumbing, electrical and windows if not included in the feature sheet. These are all costly upgrades that some buyers might not want to be burdened with.
- Overall cleanliness – Take a peek along baseboards, in closets, behind toilets and in window tracks for dirt. A home that is clean is likely a home that has been well cared for!