What To Look For During An Open House

Agent With Clients showing what to look for during an open house

As colder weather moves into the Adirondacks, open house season is winding down after a busy and active summer. If you are looking to buy this fall, it’s not too late to get into properties that interest you.  During the holidays and larger event weekends, local agents are more likely to have open houses. As a buyer, open houses provide the perfect opportunity to tour and inspect potential homes before making an offer. Although the event can be busy with multiple buyers on site at the same time, here are some tips to help you think ahead and know what to look for during an open house.


Noise And Traffic Levels

Depending on where you are moving from, noise and traffic levels could be a big selling point or a big deterrent. A buyer from a rural area may see a house as very noisy and busy while someone from a large city might see the same house as calm and peaceful. Taking time to listen and observe both inside and outside the property while at the open house, as well as stopping by again later at a different time a day to compare, will give you a good idea of what noise and activity levels are like throughout the day.


Structural Issues

Significant structural issues can be very costly to a homeowner so doing a careful general inspection to look for signs of trouble during the open house tour could save you money. Some things you should look for during the open house include:

  • Bouncing, bubbled or sloping floor
  • Cracks above doors and windows
  • Windows that don’t open
  • Cracked walls

These signs could all point to structural issues with the home. To verify that it is indeed a structural issue, we suggest having a professional inspection done before purchasing the home. Some homes in the Lake Placid region were built in the 1900’s and have been minimally updated since. Some wear and tear is to be expected in these older homes as they settle causing some cracking in the drywall.


Water Damage

Along with structural issues, what to look for during an open house includes any damage from water. Whether it is from the roof or the ground, water damage can destroy a house. You should look for:

  • Damp walls or water stains on the ceiling
  • Moldy walls and peeling paint
  • Bubbles and blisters in paint
  • Musty odors


Overall Condition

Finally, during your open house tour you should look at the overall condition of the property. If the property looks like it is well taken care of and maintained, then most likely any issues have probably been handled or have a solid plan in place to be addressed. Some additional things to look for during the open house are:

  • Condition of Floors/Carpets
    • Would you have to replace the floors? If the floors and carpets are looking rough, that will affect your budget in purchasing the home. As a buyer, it is good to imagine living in the space. If the floors and carpets are in good condition, new owners may opt to move in as is, then change a room from carpet to hardwood or vice versa at a later date.


  • Condition of Appliances
    • Does the fridge make a funny or unusual sound as you walk by? While the appliances might not be the most modern or up to date, checking their current operating condition and requesting a replacement or price reduction if needed could save you some cost up front when purchasing the home.


  • Location and Number of Electrical Outlets
    • Most of the gadgets and tools we use in our modern lives needs a charge or electricity so we can stay plugged in.  Noticing during the open house where electrical outlets are located as well as how many there are in each room can help you envision what the layout of a room could be. Depending on your vision for the living space, some buyers look for more outlets while others may only need a bare minimum.


  • Lights Out In A Room
    • If you walk into a room and multiple lights are out, light bulbs that need replacing could be the cause or it could signal electrical issues.  The bulb is likely the culprit if there is one random light out in a strand. If several lights are out throughout the room, be sure to check in with the agent hosting the open house.  Electrical issues can be costly for the homeowner, so it is important to to try to learn as much as you can while at the open house and before making an offer.


  • Condition of Landscaping
    • Do the lawn and garden look cared for? Generally, grounds maintenance is part of every homeowner’s routine. Overgrown and out of control landscaping may be a sign that things around the home have been neglected. Poor landscaping maintenance can have negative effects on the home including backed up water drainage and dead trees or branches that could fall and damage structures. These issues can result in thousands of dollars of damage. Taking a close look at the condition of the property on the outside can be a good predictor of what you will see when you go inside.


  • Structural Integrity of Outbuildings
    • If there are garages or outbuildings, walk around each structure and ask the agent to enter if possible to gauge general condition.  Taking a look inside will also give you an opportunity to see how each structure could be used to fit your lifestyle. In the Lake Placid region, smaller sheds are generally used for lawn tools and storing supplies or for wood storage if the property has a wood burning fireplace.


  • Size and Quality of Windows and Doors
    • Windows and doors might not be at the top of your list when you are considering what to look for during an open house.  However, looking at the size and quality of windows and doors provides crucial information to assess how efficiently the house is insulated. Single pane windows are great during the summer when weather is warm, but during the heart of the winter, they release heat from the home. This heat loss means spending more on fuel or electric to keep your home warm. Heat loss can also be increased in homes that have more windows. Thermal pane windows tend to be more energy efficient than most windows throughout the year. Doors should also be of higher quality to maximize energy efficiency, and should be well sealed.  You should not see spaces where you can see outside around the door. Similar to windows, higher quality doors provide more insulation to save you money on heating and cooling throughout the year.


  • Amount of Storage Space
    • Plan for additional space! When you look at a home, always plan for extra storage space. Homeowners generally don’t realize how much stuff they own until they complete a move. When you purchase a home, it is prudent to plan ahead for changing home needs as your stage of life, interests or lifestyle change. You never know when you might need an additional room for a growing family, work from home office or other purpose. Having extra space will provide the room to continue to enjoy your home as your life changes.


While knowing what to look for during an open house and completing a careful first inspection can give you a good idea of the quality of a property, we always recommend our buyers hire a professional home inspector.  These professionals provide a full report of any major issues they can see arising down the line that may have been missed during your own inspection. The list above is a good starting point to identify warning signs before you put in an offer and hire an inspector.

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