When you decide to buy a house, it’s an exciting time as you consider all of your options. This is a huge decision so you want to go into it with a solid plan from day one.
The first step in the home buying process is to look at houses to find your perfect match. Typically, this means you’ll be going to a number of open houses.
Open houses are the perfect opportunity for you to vet each potential house, so knowing what exactly is on your “must-have” list for your new home is essential.
Attending an open house enables you to look at a property with a discerning eye to see if it’s a fit with your needs. Not every house you look at will be your forever home, but each home you view offers you an opportunity to refine your wish list until you find the right one.
What To Do Before the Open House
Before you attend an open house you’ll want to do some research. By doing your homework and mapping out what is most important on your wish list, you’ll be able to focus on all the finer details instead of trying to remember 20 different things to ask the agent.
Here are our suggestions to help you get ready:
- Have a game plan for how much time you want to spend at each open house. The more you like a house, the longer you’re likely to stay there, so be realistic about how many houses you can view in a day. Trying to cram too many open houses into one day can be exhausting and won’t be as productive.
- Research the neighborhood(s). Going into house hunting you already have a general idea about what’s important in the community you’re going to live in. Take some time to check out what each neighborhood has to offer including schools, retail, restaurants, outdoor recreation and public transit.
- Create a list of your must haves, nice to haves, and deal breakers. Usually this list is a bit flexible and you’ll be willing to make some concessions should you find your ideal house. Just as important as your must-haves is a list of things you’re just not willing to settle for. This “deal breaker” list will help you refine your search and means less time looking at properties that just aren’t going to work for you.
- Find out what maintenance you’re responsible for. Many townhomes have landscaping maintenance included, but there are other things like snow removal that will need to be taken care of. Inquire about how maintenance is handled by the community so you know going in what you will be responsible for.
What to Look for While You’re at the Open House
You’ve found a townhome to look at, and you’re ready to go. Once you’re viewing the house it can be overwhelming to try to take in everything. That’s why you should create a checklist of everything you’re looking for in your new home. That way you’ll have a clear head once you’re actually in the house.
Here’s what should be on your open house checklist:
- Exterior of the home: Get the details on the quality of the siding, windows and exterior paint.
- Layout: Are all bedrooms on the same floor? Is it open concept or closed off? Is there a flex space?
- Flow: How will the home function for your day- to-day life?
- Light and air: Is there natural sunlight and good air flow?
- Storage/closet space: How big are the closets? Is there ample cabinet space in the kitchen? Is there anywhere in the house that can be used for additional storage?
- A well-planned kitchen: Is the kitchen laid out well for entertaining? Does it have modern amenities? Is there enough cook and prep space? Plenty of light?
- The garage/parking: Is there an attached garage or street parking? Is there a fee for street parking?
In addition to these items, when visiting a new home neighborhood it’s important to get some information about the builder. Here are some things to consider:
- Do they have a good reputation?
- Are they well-established?
- Are they a local builder familiar with northwest weather conditions and building regulations?
What To Do After the Open House
You’ve visited some open houses, so now it’s time to consider your options. Here are some suggestions to help you with your decision:
- Take note of what you did or didn’t like about the property. When you leave an open house there are certain details that will stick out, but it’s easy to forget some of the finer points. When you leave an open house, take five minutes and jot down what you like and don’t like about the home you just viewed. Better yet, snap a few photos.
- Follow up with your agent or sales center contact for a second viewing of any properties you’re considering. If you find a property you’ve fallen in love with, schedule a time to go back and see the house again. This will give you the chance to do a detailed look at the house and address anything you missed on the first visit.
Buying a home is a big decision so approaching open houses with a plan means you can focus what matters most to you. Gathering the same information at each open house visit gives you the information needed to help expedite your decision. In today’s hot real estate market, homes are selling quickly and you don’t want to miss out on your perfect house.