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Touring an Open House? Here are 8 Things to Look For

When you’re searching for your dream house, you’ll likely spend a good chunk of time touring open houses—and while you may have a list of ‘must-haves’ or ‘no-no’s’ in mind, it’s easy to be distracted by color and/or other cosmetic touches that keep you from noticing more critical factors. Experienced real estate agents know what to look for. But if you’re touring on your own, here are eight things you should definitely be alert to.

  • Signs of Water Damage – They may not be obvious, so look for water marks on the ceilings or brown water marks on the walls. If there’s carpeting in the basement, be sure it is dry and be wary of a musty odor.
  • Foundation Cracks – While these, too, may not be obvious, check for misaligned doors or windows, sticking doors or sloping floors, which may be signs the house is not solidly anchored.
  • Too Many Stairs – They may not bother you now, while you are young and healthy, but will Grandma be able to handle them—and will you when you are her age?
  • Closet Space – Picture your things fitting into the existing closets. If you think perhaps there is not enough space, you’re probably right.
  • Storage Space – Where will you store your holiday ornaments, camping gear and out-of-season sports equipment? Think not just about closet space for clothes, but about space to store all your extras.
  • Water Pressure – Lackadaisical water pressure can be a big issue in the kitchen or the shower. Turn on the taps full blast for a minute to see how the water runs. 
  • Natural Light – If you’re touring the home in bright daylight with all the lights on, try turning the lights off to get a better idea about natural light. 
  • An Aging Roof – A home inspector will note it, but why wait until mid-transaction to realize you may need to budget for replacement? Check for an abundance of damaged or missing shingles, or signs of water damage in the attic.