When house hunting it is easy to get caught up in comparing square footage, admiring the countertops and counting the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Attending an open house is a great way to spend more time exploring a property at your leisure than during a regular showing. It provides potential homebuyers with the opportunity to get a feel for the neighborhood and all the amenities that a property can offer. It is also the time to take into account the good, the bad and the ugly and help you make a far more informed real estate decision.
So at the next open house you attend, use this checklist to help you narrow your home search and gather important information.
It always comes down to location. Even if a house meets all of your criteria, the neighborhood that it is in is just as important as the number of bedrooms and how beautiful the kitchen. Do your homework first regarding the surrounding area. Take the time to research public websites like Homefacts.com or NeighborhoodScout.com to learn about the crime rate and how well the local schools are performing.
Look closely at the neighbors' homes and yards to determine if this is a community that takes pride in ownership. Excessive amounts of trash or poor maintenance in other residences should be a cause for concern. You may want to visit the area at various times during the week to get a better feel for who lives nearby. This becomes a significant factor when you go to sell your home in the future.
Also, take into account how close the neighborhood is to shopping, parks, health centers, schools and other amenities and if you are commuting will it be convenient or a hassle from this address. When you go to the open house take a close look at how many For Sale signs there are in nearby yards. Multiple homes for sale could indicate that residents aren't particularly happy with the neighborhood.
Look beyond the curb appeal of charmingly planted flowers and garden benches. Take a close look at the landscaping to determine if it has been well-maintained and cared for. Specifically, look at trees and shrubs to see if they will require significant work or removal. Inspect fences, walkways, the driveway and patios to see if they are in good condition or will be in need of repair in the not too distant future. The same goes for peeling paint, rusted air conditioning units, and broken fixtures.
If any of these items appear to have been lacking routine maintenance, this should raise a red flag on how well the rest of the home has been kept up and should affect your decision to either make an offer or how much your offer on the home should be.
There are a few unusual things that you may encounter when you are attending open house tours that should make you stop and evaluate the home a little bit further. Additions to a home, be it a sunroom, extra bedroom or the garage being converted into a recreation space, should ultimately be adding value to the property. If the materials or the construction appear to be substandard or does not appear to match up with the rest of the property this could indicate issues with structural integrity, problems with plumbing or electrical systems or potentially a lack of proper permits and inspections.
The same goes for there being unfinished construction projects at the property. Unfinished work could indicate issues with permits, problems that were faced that could not be easily resolved or that the owner ran out of fund to complete the project. Properties with unfinished construction can be much more difficult to obtain a mortgage on. You will want to have a serious conversation with both your Realtor and your lender if you decide on purchasing home where significant work still needs to be done. Even if renovations are complete, any home that has recently had work done should be thoroughly inspected for structural integrity and that all due diligence with permits has been conducted.
Finally, follow your nose. Strange odors could indicate mold, mildew or pet damage. The same goes for a property that is using heavy air fresheners or candles to possibly mask unpleasant scents.
Our team at OpenHouseDay can help you navigate your real estate possibilities. If you are looking buy a home and want to find out the most accurate information on open houses in your area of interest; or if you are selling a home and want to promote your open house to its best advantage, contact us today at www.OpenHouseDay.com.