You’ve done your research online and narrowed down the neighborhoods and homes you’re most interested in. The next step? Visiting your top picks in person.
But once you’re at the open house or walk-through, what should you look for? What real estate information will you be able to determine live that you couldn't find in the photos and details you already looked at online? To help you prepare, here’s a list of what to pay close attention to when on a walk-through:
The home’s exterior. Photos online only allow you to get so close, so while you’re on site, carefully inspect the entire exterior of the home. Is the paint chipping? Are the shingles in need of repair? How about the gutters? Repairs needed in any of these areas will factor greatly into your bid or can serve as a helpful negotiating point.
The smell. One thing you definitely cannot research online is how a home smells. So put your nose to work to sniff out mold, pet damage, air quality and general cleanliness.
The light. Sure, those appealing descriptions may have raved about the home’s natural light but visit every room of the house to make your own assessment.
The neighborhood. Sure, you found out all about school quality, crime stats, proximity to transportation and more during your online research, but nothing compares to being there. Look at traffic patterns, the condition of surrounding homes, the neighbors, their yards, etc. After you’ve toured the house, take a few minutes for a quick stroll around the block. This will give you a much better sense of the neighborhood you may come to call home. Once you narrow your choices down, try driving to and from the homes during rush hour, so you can see what a potential commute would be like.
The size. You might think that with tons of photos and the exact square footage listed online, you have a good idea of the size of the home, right? Yes and no. You know the size on paper, but you don’t really have a sense of size until you’re there. Photos tend to make rooms look more spacious and ceiling height adds another layer to perceived spaciousness.
Above all, the most important thing you will determine from a walk-through is hard to measure – how the home feels. Square footage, kitchen and number of rooms aside, you need to be able to picture yourself living there. And that is something you can’t determine until you’re there. So, don’t rush - take your time and really try the house on during your walk-through.