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Open House Tips for Buyers: What to Look for When Buying a House

December 4, 2019

Buying a home is an exciting time and with such a large decision on the line, you want to make sure to do your research before committing. Whether this is your first home or your fifth, one of the most important steps when buying a home is attending open houses. But do you know what to look for when you go?

These open house tips for buyers will help you identify potential areas of concern, envision yourself in the space, and prepare you for this big milestone.

Open House Tips for Buyers

Open houses might have delicious food and refreshments, a beautifully staged interior, and friendly real estate agents ready to help you, but there’s much more than meets the eye. Use these tips to make the most out of your open house visits and get yourself in that perfect new home sooner.

Door open to living room

Don’t Judge an Interior by its Cosmetics

The first thing most visitors notice when attending an open house is the interior design. But often times, this is just the tip of the iceberg, especially if small cosmetic fixes catch your eye. Things like paint color, cabinet style, and countertops can easily be changed but structural features like loose wires or aging support beams are there to stay. Try to look past the fancy staging and examine the bones of the house. You can always paint the room later.

Have an Eye for Errors

Speaking of the interior, though, you should be on the lookout for fundamental errors. While paint and cabinets are easy enough to change, things like uneven floors, water stains, cracks in the ceilings, or mold may be indicative of larger issues. If you can easily spot damage, make a note of it and talk to the realtor or homeowner. If it can’t be easily fixed, it might not be the right home for you.

Consider the Temperature

Heating and cooling systems are expensive to replace, so when visiting an open house gauge the temperature and examine the furnace and central heating and cooling system. If possible, visit during different times that have cooler or warmer temperatures. Make sure you feel comfortable in the home during a cold spell as well as during the hot summer months.

Decide on Your Deal Breakers

Another open house tip for buyers is to have a list of wants versus needs when you’re house hunting. It might be hard to find a house that fits all of your criteria, but having a list of deal breakers helps you understand what you really need. If you plan to grow your family or have guests over, an extra bedroom might top the list. Or, if you want to relax in the summer and cool off, having a pool might be a necessity. During the open house, check these things off your list to find the perfect home for you.

House-shaped keychain

Love the Location

You can change almost anything about a new home except for the location. An important open house tip for buyers is to scout out the area and think about what it would be like to live there. Where is the closest grocery store? Are the schools good? Are there places to walk, eat out, or shop? You might have to pay more for a prime location, but if location matters to you then it’s worth it. Also, don’t be afraid to ask the realtor or current homeowner questions about the location if you don’t know the area.

Ask the Right Questions

During an open house, the real estate agent or homeowner is there to help you make an informed decision. To make that easier, ask the right questions to get the answers that matter. These questions might include:

  • Why is the owner selling the home?

  • How long has the home been on the market?

  • When was the house built?

  • How much are monthly expenses excluding the mortgage payment (utilities, HOA, Mello-Roos, property taxes, etc.)?

  • How many offers has the seller received?

Envision Your Style

Last but not least, don’t forget to have fun at the open house and envision your life happening there. Visualize how your sofa would look in the living room, designate which rooms are for the kids, and imagine hosting a dinner party in the dining room. You’re looking for a home that will not only be structurally sound and the right price, but that will also be the perfect place to make memories for years to come. Visualizing this as you walk through an open house is just as important as the technical stuff.

These open house tips for buyers will help you look for key things when visiting and help choose the perfect home for you and your family. Take at looks at these interior design styles from around the world for inspiration once you’ve bought the house of your dreams.

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