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5 Ways to Get More Out of Your Next Open Home

By Candace White

An open home is a golden opportunity. It’s a chance to discover whether a home is right for you, to look out for issues with the property, and to start building a solid rapport with the real estate agent.

To make sure you get what you need from your next inspection, put these five must-know tips into action.

Write a list of features that are non-negotiable, and others that you want but could go without.

  1. COME ARMED WITH A LIST OF ESSENTIAL FEATURES

Spend some time thinking about what you want in a home. Write a list of features that are non-negotiable, and others that you want but could go without. Bring a copy in a notebook when attending an open home and mark each feature as you notice it. This will help you assess the property’s pros and cons afterwards.

Essential features could include stuff like large double rooms, sufficient storage, open-plan living spaces or a flat section. The clearer you are on what exactly you need, the better you’ll be able to assess each home after you visit.

  1. TURN UP EARLY AND BUILD A RAPPORT WITH THE AGENT

Arriving fashionably late is not advisable when attending an open home – instead arrive a little early ‘by accident’. Being the first prospective buyer at an open home will give you two advantages:

  1. You may get some one-on-one time with the real estate agent, making it easier to build rapport
  2. The home will be empty when you show up, making viewing easier

Always be friendly and open with agents, without revealing too much. Be polite but don’t be afraid to ask questions directly if you have any. If you build a rapport quickly, you may get an edge over the other potential buyers, making the agent more open and forthcoming with you.

If you spot certain red flags you may be able to rule a property out straight away.

  1. CHECK FOR OBVIOUS PROBLEMS

Know what to look for, and you should be able to spot most obvious problems with a property after a quick inspection. If you notice red flags you may be able to rule a property out straight away, which could save you money on building reports, or stop you from buying a lemon.

It’s a good idea to perform the following quick checks during the open home:

  • Check if doors and windows open properly without resistance. If they catch it could be a sign the home is subsiding, or has high moisture levels
  • Flush the toilets and run the taps. Listen for any odd sounds in the plumbing and take note if the water pressure is low
  • Scan interior and exterior walls, looking for signs of mould or any long, deep cracks
  • If the home was built before 1990, it may contain a hazardous material called asbestos. Familiarise yourself with what the fibre looks like and keep an eye out for it. Removing asbestos can cost thousands, so first home buyers may want to avoid it
  • Have a quick look at the switchboard if it’s in an obvious spot. If it looks ancient it may need replacing, which can cost thousands

There’s no need to go to crazy searching for problems with a property. But if you do spot something concerning, be sure to ask the real estate agent about it, or flag it with your building inspector so they know to look out for it during their inspection.

  1. CONSIDER THE PROPERTY’S ORIENTATION

If you do spot something in a home you like, be sure to ask the real estate agent about it.

Well oriented properties enjoy lower heating and cooling costs, and offer more comfortable living spaces. On the other hand, poorly oriented properties can be cold, damp and difficult to heat.

To make sure you don’t buy a dark, damp dud – establish which direction north is, then assess which windows and areas of the property face that way. Ideally the a property’s living spaces and master bedroom will have several windows that face within 30 degrees of north so that they get plenty of sunlight throughout the day.

If your property has few windows facing north, or none at all, make sure you have a building inspector thoroughly check moisture levels in the home during the inspection. Properties that get very little sun often have problems with dampness.

  1. RECORD YOUR EXPERIENCE

When you view a dozen homes in a day they can all start to melt into one. Prevent post-viewing-melt by bringing a notebook and recording your thoughts, or taking a quick phone video of each property you visit to help jog your memory afterwards (with the real estate agent’s permission).

If you have a plan in place, and you know what to look for, open homes can be incredibly valuable when you’re house-hunting. You’ll be able to rule properties out or prioritise them in 15 minutes or less – making your search easier, more effective and more successful.

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