House hunting can be a difficult task; no matter how many houses you have bought in the past. But after scanning your local real estate listings and investigating every ‘For Sale’ sign in your favourite neighbourhood, you may have finally found your dream home. If you’re planning to attend an open house to give it a thorough inspection, don’t go in blind.
It may be helpful to ask yourself questions such as: What am I actually looking for when I visit an open house? How do I know what’s staged and what’s authentic? What should I ask my real estate agent before making an offer? These are all questions that are usually on a homebuyer’s mind before they go to a showing. Here are some essential things to have on your radar the next time you attend an open house.
1.Systematically explore the entire home: occasionally, attending an open house can be awkward. The key is to be polite but thorough your tour of the house. Don’t be afraid to open doors. Often powder rooms, wine cellars, pantries, laundry rooms, and secret hideaways get missed, particularly if it is a crowded open house. Come prepared and bring your tape measure, notepad, camera, and questions for your real estate agent.
2. Overlook elaborate staging: when you participate in an open house, the interior and exterior will most likely be dressed to the nines while the current homeowner is attempting to sell. The trick is to ignore simulation furniture, beautiful bathrooms and organized basements and inspect the home, as it really is—pure real estate. Many people forget to look past the staging at an open house. You may be so wowed by the perfect décor that you overlook other more important aspects of the home. For example, be sure to examine the parking scheme, look for broken appliances, damages the house has suffered and reasons why the seller has decided to move.
3. Have your eyes & ears peeled: it’s one thing to be on the lookout for mold, cracked drywall, and rusty fixtures in a potential home, but an open house is much more than what meets the eye. Listen to what other people are saying and pay attention to their comments as you walk through. Although other people who are attending the open house may be your competition in the bidding, they may also notice things you didn’t catch. In addition, you should be listening for squeaky floors, breezy windows, and leaky taps—these can all lead to major issues in the future if you decide to purchase.
4. Discover the surrounding neighbourhood: the advantage of attending an open house is the ability to see a prime piece of real estate in its natural habitat. This means having a critical eye for nearby homes and the location the house resides in. Take some time to explore the neighbourhood and surrounding streets. Drive around and check out proximity to amenities. Don’t forget to look at the adjacent properties. If there are four doorbells, two fire escapes, and a messy backyard, you may be living next to a tenanted property.
5. Go with your instincts: if a house looks too good to be true—it probably is. Trust your gut and sense of smell, especially when heading to the basement. If something feels unsteady, damaged, warped, whitewashed, water stained, or smells musty—it might not be the place for you. Chances are there may be a home inspection available to view, so don’t be afraid to ask to see it or have it emailed to you. Feel free to also request more data on a listing from your real estate agent so you can make the most informed decision upon walking out the door of an open house.
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