What to look for at an open inspection
So you’re ready to start looking for a home. You’ve got your deposit and your pre-approval sorted, so now the fun really begins! Real estate websites are great at making houses look desirable online, but actually seeing a house can sometimes tell a different story.
The automatic instinct at an open house is to check the kitchen, bedrooms and bathrooms, but there are many critical areas that some people overlook.
Things to consider
Most people can spot the big issues when attending an open house – dodgy wall repairs, water stains on the ceiling, outdated electrics, cracked walls, etc. – but here are some extra things to look for that you may not have thought of:
The hidden spaces – take a closer look at the parts of the home often covered up, or neglected. Open closets and built-in wardrobes to see how much space they provide. Don’t be afraid to move any rugs or look behind wall hangings for any covered damage or flaws.
The house’s exterior – make sure you take a walk around the outside of the house; you may be surprised by what you find. Has maintenance been neglected? How does the paint look, is it fresh or chipping? What’s the condition of the gutters, eaves, and fences? Does the roof have any tell-tale signs of disrepair? Sellers who disregard exterior maintenance are likely to do the same inside.
The layout – do rooms feel spacious and well-laid-out? Consider your lifestyle and how you will use each room. The kitchen is a big part of many people’s homes and is usually the hub when entertaining. Is the area open and inviting? Can family and friends lounge nearby? The way one room opens to the next is an important consideration when you’re trying to make the most of the space you have.
The neighbourhood – keep in mind that when you buy a house you’re also buying into the surrounding neighbourhood. It’s a good idea to take a stroll down the nearby streets and get a feel for the area. Be sure to pay attention to traffic speeds, the condition of other homes, and what sort of shops and transport links are nearby.
The neighbours – everybody needs good neighbours and when you buy a house you’re getting the neighbours too; it’s a package deal. Make sure to scope out the homes on either side and out the back. You may think “out of sight, out of mind”, but that rule doesn’t apply if they have dogs that bark all day. It’s worth asking the real estate agent if they can shed any light on the neighbours.
Privacy – does the bedroom window give you a view into your neighbour’s bathroom? If you wanted to entertain out the back, are there any multistorey homes peering into your party? Privacy is definitely worth considering, but the good news is that a few tall hedges could be a simple solution.
Talk to the agent
The agent is your connection to the seller, so make sure you take advantage of this resource. Ask for a history of the home, find out how many owners the house has had, how long the house has been on the market, and why the owners are selling. If the owners want to move because the schools are terrible, or the neighbour practices drums in the middle of the night, the agent isn’t likely to tell you. But ask this question anyway and look for hesitation from the agent, or a story that seems half-baked.
Take someone with you
Two sets of eyes are better than one, and your partner, friend, or parent can help you spot things that you could have missed. An experienced home buyer could be invaluable when attending open inspections, especially if they aren’t emotionally invested in your decision. Their objectivity will mean they may pick up things that you overlooked, because you’re too excited about how big the backyard is.
Open inspections are great to get first-hand information on prospective properties, and allow you to ask questions and listen, but make sure you don’t give away more than you want known about your current situation. Be discreet about your finances and how much you may love the home; it’s likely to benefit you when it comes time to make an offer.
This is general advice only and doesn’t take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Conditions, fees and lending criteria apply and are available on request.