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For most home shoppers attending at least one or two Open Houses during the course of their home hunt is the norm. But how useful these trips really are depends very much upon the questions you ask while your are getting the big grand tour.
If you ask the right questions you can come away from an open house with a better grasp of whether or not a home is worth pursuing than you ever could from an online listing but that’s not all. It’s also a chance to do a little extra due diligence and perhaps even suss out problems that may never have come to light until much later in the process.
So the question her though is just what should you be inquiring about as you move from room to room? Here are just a few suggestions to keep in mind for your next visit to an Open House.
In the Kitchen
If a kitchen was recently renovated it can sometimes be easy to spot that fact, but that is not always the case. Don’t be shy about asking when the kitchen last saw a little work and you should certainly inquire about the age of the appliances as if they are older than they look and will need replacing soon that will change your overall budget.
When evaluating the answer you get keep the following in mind; refrigerators last, on average, 11 years; gas ranges, 16 years; electric ranges, 14 years; range hoods, 14 years; ovens, 14 years; and dishwashers, nine years. While aging appliances are not necessarily a deal breaker by any means, they can be factored into a fair offer price.
The Living Room
In a vast majority of homes the cozy look and feel of carpet is still the preferred flooring choice of most. Hardwood can look great in other rooms and so even can tile or stone, but for most of us there is something warmer and more welcoming about carpet for a family room.
While you are admiring that carpet though you do need to ask questions about it. Not only how old it is and whether it still has any warranties in place, but also about just what is beneath it too. Carpet can be used to hide a multitude of sins, including sub-flooring problems, and those are the kinds of issues you do not want to wait until the closing to find out about.
Many people tend to overlook the bathroom when touring an Open House. Sure they’ll have a quick look to check out the decor and sizing but as most bathrooms are rather ordinary and even somewhat boring viewers are keen to move on to more ‘exciting’ rooms. That however is a mistake. All kinds of expensive things can go wrong in bathrooms so don’t be afraid to turn faucets on to check water pressure levels or to flush toilets. listening for that tell tale overly long water run that almost always spells trouble.
A new roof is an expensive home improvement project. That’s why it’s important that you ask about the age of a home’s roof, the type of roof it is (wood, shingles, metal etc.) Again, keep this in mind when accessing the answers; asphalt shingles last 15 to 20 years; metal roofs last 20 to 40 years; wood shingle and shake roofs last 20 to 30 years; and tile and slate roofs last 50 or more.
If the yard’s a nice one it’s easy to get lost and just stare out at the landscape, forgetting to ask questions like how much land it actually translates to and where the actual property borders are. Yes, that will all be buried in that small print at the closing but that all tends to get overlooked then, as many a person who has accidentally chopped down a tree or erected a fence on the neighbour’s property has had to deal with when the problem could have been avoided.
General Questions About the Home
Finally, there are some general questions you should ask about any home during an Open House. These include; how old is the boiler/heating system/air conditioning and are there still warranties in place?Approximately how old is the wiring? Is it easy to find servicing for the home’s system’s in the area? How much do the average utility bills run?
If your tour is over, you like the place but you still have a nagging feeling you had other questions you should have asked don’t worry. Simply finish your time in the home with one last question for the Realtor and/or owner; is there anything else I should know about the house? And hopefully they’ll take it from there.