Open up your eyes in open houses

Do you really know what you should be looking for when attending open houses?CREW offers some helpful advice to ensure these trips are worthy and informative.

1. The Neighbourhood

Buying a home is a package deal: it comes with the neighbours. During your visit make note of the traffic speeds, the conditions of the homes in the area and the presence (or absence) of local amenities, especially retail and schools.

Also, look to the neighbouring properties. Are those homes well taken care of? Does it seem like dogs or children live next door? That can give you a good sense of what the neighbours will be like.

2. Privacy

Look out the windows and around the backyard. Does the bedroom window look right into the neighbour’s bathroom? Is the backyard too open, inviting unsolicited visits? Remember: good fences make good neighbours.

3. The Exterior

It’s not just the inside of the home that matters; the house’s exterior can make or break a deal. Look up: does the roof look like it needs new shingles? That can be a costly repair. Now look down: are the wooden boards on the deck rotting? Is the driveway going to need to be repaved? A poorly maintained exterior can also forewarn you of what may be waiting inside.

4. Good flow and layout

The photos you see online won’t reveal how the home flows. For example, is the kitchen near the dining room? Follow the flow with the needs of your targeted tenant in mind.

5. Smells and stains

The nose knows! An odd odour can be a telling sign. Do you sense stale cigarette smoke? That could be a tough scent to remove from carpets. Or maybe you smell something moldy, which could be a far worse problem to have.

Also look around for suspicious stains and watermarks. Water stains can point to a leaky roof or former flood, which might later reveal mold.

6. Light and air

Open windows and pull aside curtains. See how much natural light enters each room and how much air flows through the space. Opening a window during the summer can cut down on the use of air conditioning.

7. Closet and cabinet space

Closet space can be a big deciding factor for buyers, especially for those that are downsizing from larger spaces. If you are staging an open house, ensure that such areas are clean and spacious looking.

8. Signs of renovations

Several people consider themselves handy, but it takes a lot more than a roll of duct tape and some glue to carry out full-scale renovations. If part of the home looks like it’s been altered, ask the listing agent about it and make sure to see a copy of any building permits.

9. The questions

Have a complete list of questions for the agent showing the property. For example, when was the property constructed, how old is the water boiler or how long has the property been listed? Open houses provide a great opportunity to get a real insight into a property.

10. Take pictures and notes

Take notes of any issues that you spot, as well as pictures, during viewing. Use these notes to help in your buying decision – they may also help during the negotiating process.

Source: Canadian Real Estate Wealth – 28 May 2015

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