If you are looking to buy a new home, your real estate agent probably has recommended that you hit the pavement and check out as many open houses in the area that you can. This can be a great way to know what you can afford and to be more realistic about your search. If you are starting to get serious about making offers on homes, here are four things you should always look for at open houses.
1. Bring Your Checklist With Deal Breakers
It can be hard to remember at the end of a busy Sunday which homes only had a standing shower or which house had a weird kitchen layout. Bring along a checklist so that if you notice anything that might be a deal breaker, you can note it and mull this over later on. Especially if you will be going to a few different homes in one day that might have similar looks, make notes on each as you go so you don't confuse features from one property to the next.
2. Scan the Neighborhood
While the interior of a home is important, the location should be a big part of your house hunt as well. If you can, talk to neighbors that are outside or at the open house about what they love about the neighborhood. Be sure to check out the quality of homes in the area and make a note of whether the home for sale is in much better condition than others. Ask about traffic, and keep this in mind when coming and going so you can start to get a feel for congestion in the area.
3. Talk up the On-Site Agent
While you should be clear if you are already working with another agent, this doesn't mean that you can't check in with the on-site agent for more details about the home. This might include why the previous owners are moving, why a home has been on the market for a while, or about further perks in the area. Try to ask open ended questions and listen. You might find out more details than you realized, such as a recent drop in price or that a home was well cared for over time.
4. Check Out the Entire Space if You Can
Taking in all areas of a home's footprint is important. A smaller living room might not be as much of a deal breaker if the dining area or back porch make up for this. If you aren't allowed in specific rooms or in outdoor areas during an open house, this might be a red flag. This doesn't mean you shouldn't come back with your agent on a different day for a more extensive walkthrough, however.
Being a smart open house peruser can save you a lot of headaches down the line when you are hoping to make an offer on a home. Once you find a place you would like to check out further, you'll have quite a bit of information to work with. You and your real estate agent will be ready to give a serious second look to prospective properties and not waste any time in the process.