Going to an Open House is a great way to jump into a new home search, but understandably, it can seem a little overwhelming at first. What are you supposed to do at an Open House? Do you ask questions or just look around? What do you do if you really like the house? Well, not to worry, here are the answers to those Open House questions and much, much more!
First things first
Usually, when you first walk into an Open House, you will be greeted by the listing agent or another agent who is hosting. Keep in mind that this agent will be representing the seller, so their primary job is to educate you about the home, answer your questions, and try to get you to buy the house. So use them as a resource, but don’t say too much about your level of interest in case you decide to make an offer, and you’ll need a buyer agent for that (more on buyer agents another time).
So you are walking around the home and you seem to like it. What should you look for? Besides the obvious: does the layout of this housework for me, or are there enough beds, baths, etc, here are some less obvious things to look at, and to look out for:
Outside of the House
Rotting wood- deck, wood siding, wood trim or columns.
Question for the agent: Do you know how often the sellers have to replace the exterior wood?
Anything that looks like it would be difficult or costly to maintain, i.e. lots of trees close to the house means that you will have to clean the gutters more often and have the trees trimmed frequently
Question for the agent: How often do they have to clean the gutters?
Do you see any sloping concrete as you walk up to the house or gaps in the steps or front porch?
What is the exterior material of the house? Brick, vinyl siding, aluminum siding, wood, stucco? Each material has its own pros and cons, and some require more maintenance than others.
What does the yard look like? Is there a large amount of grass or high maintenance landscaping? These are things you need to keep in mind when calculating your monthly expenses.
Question for the agent: Who does the lawn/yard maintenance and what is the cost?
Inside the House
Question for the agent: What is the age of the roof, the windows, HVAC & hot water heater. Is there natural gas?
Keep an eye out for spots on the ceiling, which could indicate a current or past water leak
How old/new are the kitchen appliances and washer/dryer?
Question for the agent: If appliances are older, are they offering a home warranty?
Basement. Give it the sniff test. If there are exposed concrete blocks in the unfinished part of the basement, are there watermarks or stains, or any crumbling on the blocks? Is there a sump pump? All basements should have a sump pump if they are below grade.
Other General Questions to Ask
Have the sellers already moved out, and/or what is their timeline?
Have the sellers received any offers?
Is there an HOA or Condo Association and if so, what is the cost?
What utilities does the home have, and what are the average costs? Is there natural gas, propane, oil, etc? What cable/internet providers are available?
You will learn a lot about homes in general from attending Open Houses, and even if you are not quite ready to make an offer, it’s a good experience to get out there and see what kind of homes are on the market.
Stay tuned for more about how to buy a home in this competitive market, and email Stacy when you’re ready to go! email@example.com