Inviting hordes of strangers to wander through a home like it’s the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art - where they observe every little detail and could easily be mistaken as robbers who are casing the joint - might raise suspicion under normal circumstances; but in real estate, it’s called an open house inspection. And it’s a pretty big deal.
Getting up close and personal with someone else’s living space is about as awkward as it gets, but there are certain protocols you can follow that allow for proper inspection etiquette, as well as ensuring that you leave with all the details you need to make an informed decision regarding the property purchase. If you’re in the buyer’s market, check out our seven pro tips for attending an open home to avoid making common rookie errors.
Have a list of priorities
Finding the ‘dream home’ can sometimes require a bit of compromise. You may love the kitchen and back deck, but the house only has three bedrooms when you really need four. In this instance, having a list of priorities will save you a lot of confusion and anxiety when it comes time to choosing a house that’s right for you. Think of the features that are important to you, such as bedrooms, yard space, or location, and write them down in order of priority. Once you’ve worked out your list you can whittle down your options until only the most suitable properties remain.
Bring your Game Face
The stakes are high when it comes to house-hunting, and it’s every man for himself. Keep your cards close to your chest and your emotions in check, even if you love the place. Revealing too much about your circumstances or intentions can compromise your bargain power if you decide to make an offer, and don’t forget there are other potential buyers lurking around who may feel a sense of urgency to close the deal if they detect a hint of competition. You don’t want to risk being pipped at the post simply because you floated around the room like Cinderella at the ball.
Don’t be influenced by the furniture
Some people have nice stuff, but you’re not there to go furniture shopping. Interior furniture and decor can subconsciously shape your perceptions of a home, but it’s important to overlook these cosmetic influences and focus on what really matters: floor plan, structural integrity, location and other features that are not as interchangeable as an Italian leather couch. The same applies if the furniture is not to your liking. Don’t let the veil of cosmetic appeal (or disgust) obscure what you’re really there to look at.
Review, don’t rummage
There’s a fine line between checking how much storage space there is inside a cupboard, and trawling through someone’s personal belongings to discover they’re low on toothpaste. By all means, check the width and depth of closets and drawers, and see if anything is broken or squeaks; but don’t leave your manners at the door, if there’s something in particular you’d like to see or know more about - just ask.
Check the infrastructure
Don’t just observe the wall paint and carpet and think how well it will match the rug in your living room; take a closer look at the things that will be considerably costly to repair or replace. Check the walls for cracks and the roof for obvious signs of distress or waterlogging. Is the floor and foundation sturdy? Do the doors align properly in their frames when shut? Examine the windows too, if it’s an older house they may be in need of replacement.
Plan your route
A little bit of organisation can go a long way, especially if you’re inspecting multiple properties in one day. Most open houses are held on weekends during specified hours, meaning there’s usually a lot of options, and a lot of interest. Knowing where you need to be and how to get there can help avoid stressful situations such as getting caught in unexpected traffic, arriving late, and arguing with your GPS. If there are multiple properties to preview, make a plan to inspect the houses in one area before moving on to the next; a bit of simple time management means you’ll have more time to thoroughly peruse your prospective dream home.
Pick up property information sheets and make notes
It’s easy to become clouded in your initial judgement and swept away in the thrill of a potential new home, so it’s important to grab a detailed information sheet (usually supplied at the inspection) and make plenty of notes as you go through. Doing so will be a helpful tool later on when you reflect on your options and need to compare what you liked and didn’t like about the property. Don’t solely rely on your memory to weigh up the pros and cons, over time the details will blur together and you’ll have no way of assessing the features objectively.
If you've been thinking about buying or selling your home feel free to contact us for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0431 366 364.