Attending an open house is an exhilarating part of the home buying process– after all, imagining yourself living different styles of beautiful homes is quite fun. But don’t let the staged decor and lovely candles distract you from what you really need to know about the home: here’s our checklist of what to look for at open houses:
Prior to even stepping inside, you can gather information about the home’s condition from the curb. Ask yourself, and the agent, the following questions:
- What is the traffic or street like? The home may be beautiful, but is it on a busy street where you will be bothered by noisy traffic? Will your children and pets need to watch out for speeding cars? Will backing out of your driveway be a safety hazard?
- How old is the roof? On average, asphalt shingle roofs need to be replaced every 20 to 25 years. If the home you’re looking at is older, the roof may not have been replaced recently, which could easily cost you a couple grand. Feel free to simply ask the listing agent how old the roof is.
- Are there any large trees or limbs growing near the home? Take note of the trees on the property, trimming and upkeep will factor into your home’s yearly upkeep expenses.
- What are the neighbors like? You may think you are just buying a home, but buyers often forget they are also purchasing a neighborhood. Look around, do the neighbors take care of their homes? Is the community made up of mostly elderly or young families? Ask the listing agent what it will be like to live there. The neighborhood is a big factor when it comes to not only purchasing, but also selling your home in the future.
- Is there enough privacy? To go along with the question about neighbors, consider how close the houses are together. Is there any shrubbery or landscaping to offer extra privacy? Are there many big windows that directly face your neighbor’s home or property? Ask yourself whether you will feel comfortable with the amount of privacy the home offers or factor in the costs of adding privacy features.
- What is the condition of the flooring and baseboards? As you walk through each room of the home, pay attention to the condition of baseboards. Warped or damaged baseboards can be a warning sign of burst pipes or past flooding. Same goes with the flooring– look out for warping or any significant scratching or damages that would cause you to want to replace them. If there are quite a few rugs around, this could be a warning sign of covered up damage.
- Does the floorplan flow? Another aspect that you may not consider right off the bat is whether or not the home has a good flow. This means that the floorplan is such that there is good ventilation and the rooms can heat up or cool down fairly quickly. If the home’s layout doesn’t flow, you can expect to pay higher heating and air-conditioning bills.
- Are there signs of mold? Politely and discreetly open up kitchen and bathroom cabinets, looking out for any dark spots around the piping. Pay attention to any spots on the caulking in the bathroom as well. Additionally, be weary of homes that have an overwhelming scent of air fresheners and candles– they add a nice touch to an open house tour but, may also be covering up musty or odd smells caused by mold or other issues. Newly painted walls may also be a nice new cosmetic feature, or a quick cover up for patches of mold.
- Is there sufficient closet space? If you notice that the home doesn’t have much storage or closet space, you may want to consider whether alternate storage solutions are possible. If not, although you may love the home, not having enough storage space can become quite unbearable once you actually live in it.
- Where are the electrical outlets and are they updated? A small detail commonly looked over while touring a home is the amount, positioning and age of electrical outlets can be a pain if they are too few for your appliances or if placed in awkward levels or places. Consider what the costs may be to update or reconfigure such outlets.
While this is not an all-encompassing list, other important factors to consider are poor or damaged tiling, large cracks in the ceiling (tiny cracks are normal and not a red flag), condensation or bubbling/peeling paint around windows, sticking doors or windows and rodents- which have become more and more of an issue in New England with the milder winters the last few years.
Pro tip: If you do see any damage in the home you are interested in, take photos to help you remember and to help negotiate and support your offer price..
Looking to buy a new home, no matter what stage of life you are in, is an overwhelming process. In order to navigate the process and find the home of your dreams, go to Verani.com to find one of our knowledgeable and friendly real estate agents near you.