Open Houses: What To Look For

When you’re at an open house, it’s easy to get caught up in the aesthetics of the home—whether you like the floor plan, how your furniture will look in the living room, how much light the kitchen gets. While these things matter, many other attributes will prove equally if not more important should you decide to buy the house. If you’re visiting an open house with your real estate agent, they will be sure to point out these important but often overlooked features. Use this list as a guide to what you should pay attention to and what questions you should ask before making a decision about your future home.

Big-ticket appliances – Take a look at significant appliances such as the refrigerator, oven, stove, washer and dryer. What condition are they in? Will they suit your practical and aesthetic needs?

– HVAC systems Ask questions about each of the home’s HVAC systems: heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Does the house have central air? Is it heated by a furnace or a boiler? When were the systems last serviced? Have there been any significant plumbing problems?

– Driveway and lawn – Walk around the exterior of the house. Is the driveway in good shape? Will it be difficult to shovel in the winter? How big is the lawn? If you have kids, will they be able to play outside? Is there a lot of landscaping to keep up?

– Age and updates – How old the home is and how well it has been kept up-to-date will give you an idea of how much money you can expect to invest in upgrades and repairs during the first few years of ownership. Scope out the bathrooms, windows, and appliances and ask whether they’ve been replaced since the house was first built.

– Location – Take a walk or a drive around the neighborhood. What are the other houses like? Do they seem to be well kept? Is the area attractive? Safe? Are the streets highly trafficked?

Keep in mind that even if certain attributes don’t bother you—for example, you don’t mind having a power line in your backyard—they may affect the resale value of the house. Discuss any significant attributes of the property with your agent to determine how they might impact the home’s overall value and whether the asking price is appropriate.

Image from stockphotos.

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