Buying a home is for most of us a very important decision. Therefore, making the most of an open inspection is critical for you to gather as much information as possible about the property, so that you are best placed to make the right decision without wasting time and possibly losing out to another buyer.
Start your information gathering even before you attend an open inspection. Use Google Street View to look at the house, the area, the neighbourhood.
Also, create a list of the most important features that you are looking for – the non-negotiables. This will help you to stay objective during the viewing, and rule out non-starters quickly.
Take a notebook and pen with you, and note down any pros and cons that you pick up during tour viewing. This will help you later on to remember some of the details. Using your phone or camera to take photos is also a good plan. Ask the agent for a copy of the floor plans as well, as this can be an added memory aid.
When you arrive, spend some time looking around the outside of the house. Use all of your senses – listen for noise, be on the look out for unpleasant smells that could be an indicator of costly problems – damp, mould or problems with plumbing.
Check the walls, interior and exterior for cracks. Simple plaster cracks are generally quick and easy to fix – but cracks that go all the way through the wall could indicate a structural defect that could be really costly to repair – so go around to the other side of the wall and see whether the crack that you have noticed is mirrored on the other side of the wall.
Have a look at the size of the home as, if you need to change this, you will be looking at costly building work.
Ask about the surrounding buildings, to determine for example whether there is a possibility that the single storey next door could be built up and block out sunlight/views.
It’s a great idea to go early, so that you don’t have to view the home with lots of other people getting in the way. Don’t be taken in or distracted by the furnishings and décor – these are things that are simple and quick to change to your liking.
If this is your first home purchase – take along a family member or friend that has experience and can help you to identify possible issues, and who is positive and supportive.
Once you have viewed a home, and you are serious about the property, you can then bring in the experts. Remember to highlight any issues to them that you think that you have picked up during your viewing, to ensure that these are checked out. If the home does have any cracks or other issues that have signalled a possible structural issue – you can always call in an engineer to get a professional opinion.