In today’s real estate market, most prospective First Home Buyers will be entering a house they’ve seen pictures of online. While these shots can give you a good idea of whether or not you like a house, visiting it is still a primary requirement.
An Open House can be a great opportunity to see a property in a more informal setting, letting you explore it a bit on your own.
The first thing you should look into doesn’t even concern the house at all. Explore the streets surrounding the house and take note of those who live there. Well-kept yards and kids playing outside can be signs of a great neighborhood while overgrown lawns and a lack of activity may be bad signs. Especially if a family is part of your plans, the neighborhood could be a crucial factor and is something that is difficult to get a feel for without visiting.
Once you arrive at the house, take a look at the outside before you head in. Does it have Curb Appeal? Does anything need repair or new paint? Does the roof look sturdy and intact? Chances are most things you notice will be cosmetic fixes, but if anything does jump out at you, you’ll be happy you took a look.
Further, taking a lap around the house will let you know what level of privacy you have. Some people like to be able to always chat with their neighbors while some want to be left alone. Whatever your preference, it is good to know what you are getting into.
Finally you should enter the house. Do a full tour and explore everywhere you are permitted. From the basement to the attic, you should look everywhere. It is always a great idea to take a tape measure with you to look at sizes of specific areas and the dimensions of drawers and cabinets. While you do not want to be overly pessimistic, it is vital to examine the home with a critical eye. Even the smallest spot of mold, for example, could be a sign of a bigger problem. Structural shortcomings can be tricky to spot as well, but are extremely important. Foundational cracks, leaky walls and windows, and uneven floors can all easily go unnoticed, especially in darker areas like the basement. Besides crucial issues, there are some other factors to consider, many of them intangible. Things like the flow of the house and the way light enters are virtually impossible to tell through pictures, but can make a difference in person
Another great area to focus on is the people around you: the sellers, their agent, and other potential buyers. While you always want to remain extremely polite, you are certainly entitled to ask questions of the sellers and their agent. While they will put a positive spin on things, getting them talking about their reasons for moving can provide extremely valuable insight. Ask their opinion on the neighborhood, schools, etc. Also, keep your ears open to other buyers. They may know more about certain aspects of the area or point out something you may have missed. You should take advantage of every potential information source at your disposal.
While we focus on a lot of small things here, it is still very important to consider the bigger picture. Things like layout, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and square footage are all extremely important. However, chances are you are aware of all of these things before you visit the property. Even so, verify all of the details listed online to be sure there are no surprises later on. Between what can be discovered online and what you’ll see in an Open House, you should be able to get a great idea of whether or not you are ready to proceed with an offer.