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What to Really Look For at the Open House

It's here! Open House season is upon us, and if you're in the market to buy, you've probably already got a list of houses you'll be visiting next weekend. Those houses have probably got the right number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and the kitchen looks gorgeous, at least in the pictures on line! While looking online is a great intoduction to what could be your "home sweet home", nothing beats an actual visit to the house to really get a feel for it, to kick the tires, so to speak. While there, it's easy to run straight for the kitchen and master bath, and fall in love. Here's are some additional items to consider to make the best use of your visit to an open house.

You're not only buying a house, you're buying the neighborhood. What is the condition of the homes on the street? What's the traffic flow like? Are there kids playing outside? Are there sidewalks available? All things to consider knowing that you may fall in love with the house, and that you still have to equally enjoy the neighborhood. 

How about the neighbors on either side of you, and behind you? If you look out the master bedroom window, are you staring right into your neighbor's bathroom? Is the backyard so close to each other that there's little privacy?

Check the exterior of the home before you go inside; it can tell you a lot about the overall condition of the house. What is the condition of the gutters? Does it appear that there are any loose shingles on the roof? Is the paint on the exterior of the home chipping, or does the siding need powerwashing? Does the foundation look sound, with no cracks? Any broken windows?

Is the flow of the interior of the home a fit for your lifestyle? The kitchen is the hub of the household for many families; does it have an "open" feel, allowing the space for family gatherings, easy access to a eating area, and connection to the rest of the living space? Depending on stages of life, one family with small children would be looking for bedrooms on the same floor; another family with teenagers may be looking for master on the first floor, and kids on the second, or in another area of the home altogether. Does the flow feel comfortable?

The nose, knows, for sure. Are there any weird smells, which can often be a sign of other issues, that you notice? The smell of mold or mildew may mean plumbing issues, water in the basement, or a leaky roof. Double check the ceiling for any signs of water stains, too, indicating leaking issues. 

How's the closet space? This is a big one for many homeowners who realize there really isn't enough for their family after they move in. Open the closets and the kitchen cupboards. If the current homeowner appears to have things overflowing, you probably will, too.

Attending Open Houses can be lots of fun; to get ideas about decorating your own home, an idea of the current value of homes on the market, or to meet local realtors if you're thinking about selling your own house. For the buyer that is actively seeking to buy, their open house tour can eliminate many homes from the search, and help them to find "the one".

Melissa Rolland is a licensed Connecticut realtor. She lives in Tolland, along with her husband Todd, a licensed broker. Together they manage the Rolland Realty Group at Keller Williams Realty. You can connect with them at www.RollandRealtyGroup.com.