When you’re visiting open houses on your search for a new home, there are 4 important things you should look at and talk to your REALTOR® about. When you’re new to the housing market or just getting started on your home buying journey, one of the best ways to ease into the process is by visiting some local open houses.
So the weekend is coming – and that means one thing for home buyers!
Casually viewing some properties during open houses is a great way to learn about:
- houses available in your price range
- what you can expect from homes in particular neighbourhoods
- what your current home compares to
But that’t not all. Read the following list of 4 other important things you should look for while browsing through your local open houses.
1. Before You Head Inside, Look Up at the Roof!
Your first instinct might be to rush inside and check out all the room sizes and finishes. But before you do that, stop and take a look at the roof. You may have to stand back on the street, but make sure to get a good look at the condition of the roof and mention anything that concerns you to your REALTOR®.
Important Things to Quickly Take Note Of
- Look for any weathered or cracking, or curling shingles
- See if there are any patches that don’t match the rest of the roof that indicate past repairs
- Look for areas that have an abundance of moss or debris
- See if the eavestroughs are damaged, bent or in disrepair
Having a solid and properly-functioning roof is essential to protecting everything you’re about to see inside the home. Without a good roof you may need to factor in some urgent repairs or necessary repairs down the line if you decide to buy.
2. Determine if the House is Properly Maintained!
Just before you step onto the front porch, take a look at the property for signs it’s been regularly maintained or not. Look for things like patches of weeds, uncut grass or irregular dips in the driveway. After you’ve looked at the inside of the house, make sure to take a good look of the backyard too.
You can almost tell right away if a home is well maintained or not. If it’s not, take note that other serious problems could arise later.
Signs of Maintenance or Signs of Wear & Tear
A home that’s been properly cared for will still show some signs of wear, but there will be signs that the owners have made an effort to repair items and maintain the cleanliness. Just make sure to look for things like:
- if the appliances seem clean and fresh or if they’re rusty and damaged
- if the vents and fans are dust free and provide good air flow
- if there are any unaddressed cracks or damage to walls, ceilings or floors
- if there’s sign of any water damage, in the basements, on ceilings or walls
No house is ever going to be 100% pristine all the time, but after visiting a few open houses, you’ll be able to easily tell who is putting in the effort to take care of their home and who simply hired a cleaner to sweep up a few days prior to the showing.
Read our article on a Checklist of Maintenance Issues to Look for at Your Next Open House for more in-depth details.
3. Say Hello to the Neighbours!
No matter how adorable the home is, and how many dazzling finishes you may find inside, you can’t change who your neighbours will be. As highly experienced real estate agents, we strongly advise you to take some time to assess the neighbourhood.
General Things to Lookout For in the Neighbourhood
- Are there kids playing in the area?
- Do the neighbours seem to maintain their properties and keep them relatively tidy?
- Do you even want neighbours or is the next house over just too close?
- Does the neighbourhood seem too active or more peaceful and quiet?
- Is there a school or a big park nearby?
- Is there a lot of vehicle traffic on the road?
The answers to the above questions may or may not affect your desire for the house but they’re important questions to ask because you want to ensure you’re moving into a neighbourhood that you’ll enjoy being a part of.
Do a Drive-by Later in the Week
If the home you’re visiting during the open house is really appealing, take some time to drive through the neighbourhood later that week at different times of day. This will help you get a sense of the traffic, noise and general ambience of the area in a variety of situations.
4. Go On and Test Everything Out!
When visiting an open house, feel free to test everything you can. If you find anything that doesn’t work properly, take note and bring up the issue with your agent. Some things to test are:
- The light switches and light fixtures
- The toilets for flushing efficiency
- The faucets and showers for good flow of water
- The bathroom fans for rattling or if they’re quiet and properly functioning
- The windows for smooth functionality and how well they seal
- The doors, including patio and garage doors
- All the major appliances including heating and A/C
Even though this isn’t considered an official home inspection, these are some straightforward things you can easily check yourself before you invest any more of your time, energy, and most importantly any money into the property.
Hiring a Professional Inspector
If you’ve found everything is in working order and up to your standards, you may want to actually hire a professional home inspector. Once you’re at that stage, you can view our tips on what to look for when hiring a home inspector.
Don’t Forget Your Imagination!
Perhaps one of the most important things you can do at an open house is to remember: don’t get caught up in the current owner’s tastes. You may not be too fond of their paint colour choices or their style of furniture, but that shouldn’t be what scares you away from the home.
Try to imagine what each room would look like with a fresh coat of paint and your furniture set in the rooms. Focus on the layout of the home and determine if it makes sense for you and your family living there.
You should also focus on structure, the walls, lighting and room flow, but at the same time flex your creative muscles and imagine how the house can work for you and actually be the type of house that you’re looking for.
Need an Agent?
Buying a house involves tough decisions but we’re here to help. The Kate Broddick Team regularly hosts open houses in a variety of locations and price points—almost every weekend of the year. You can find a list of our upcoming open houses on our social media feeds each week, and on Realtor.ca.
If you don’t already have a real estate agent, this is a great opportunity to casually meet with one of our incredible REALTORS® so when the time comes that you should want to put an offer on a home or start the selling process on your current property, you’ll know who to call!
So don’t be shy – stop by! We’d love to meet you at our next open house. See you this weekend!