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Home Buyer

7 Things Buyers Should Never Overlook At Open Houses

An open house is an occasion to walk through a property and determine whether it’s a right fit for your family. If you like what you see, you can make an offer. But you shouldn't let the excitement of buying a home cloud your good judgment. This is a major purchase, so keep your eyes open. Here are seven things you should never overlook at an open house.

1. Layout 

Consider whether you want an open concept or a closed concept floor plan, which has more walls separating rooms. Open concept is rising in popularity, and it’s fitting if you prefer openness for entertaining and better flow. Keep in mind that open floor plans aren’t as common in older homes. If an older home has an attractive price tag but an undesirable layout, think twice before making an offer. Unless, of course, you’re okay removing walls and opening up the space at a later time. 

2. Structural Issues

You shouldn’t expect perfection from a home, especially an older or used home. Still, don’t overlook potentially costly problems such as foundation issues. Check the exterior for cracks in the brick, and look for cracks along the interior walls. Cracks can indicate a serious structural problem.

3. Outdated Kitchen and Bathrooms

Kitchen and bathrooms are two of the most expensive rooms to update. According to Home Advisor, “most homeowners spend between $12,714 and $33,023 to remodel a kitchen,” and about $9,371 to remodel a bathroom. Not to say you shouldn’t make an offer on a home with an ugly, outdated kitchen or bathroom, but consider whether you'll have resources and time for a renovation project after moving in.

4. Older Windows

Older windows aren't as energy efficient, which often results in higher heating and cooling costs. Replacing windows is another huge expense, so thoroughly inspect the windows during an open house. Check for cracks, visible signs of condensation, broken locks and air leaks. Ask the homeowner or realtor to estimate the age of the windows to determine whether they’ll need replacing soon. 

5. Water Leaks

A leaky roof or pipe can cause serious damage to a home and increase the risk of mold. As you walk through the property, look for hidden signs of a water leak. This includes brown stains on the walls, damaged floors, damaged wallpaper, mildew in the kitchen or bathrooms, or a musty smell.

6. Noise

Even if a house offers everything you’re looking for, be cognizant of the noise around the property. The constant sound of nearby traffic can become a nuisance over time. Be honest and consider whether you can live with the noise. You might get used to street sounds after a while, but there are no guarantees.

7. Odors

Being greeted by the smell of cigarette smoke or pet odors at an open house is a turn off. But you should also be suspicious of houses with an overpowering fragrant scent. A strong scent can be a homeowner’s misguided attempt at making a great first impression, or it could be a homeowner’s way of trying to mask an unpleasant odor such as the musty smell of mildew or mold.  

Bottom line

There isn’t a perfect house, but this doesn’t mean you should settle for any house. A careful inspection of a property before making an offer can bring attention to potentially costly issues in the future.