If you're looking to purchase a property, chances are you'll be attending a great many open house inspections in the coming months! Having a systematic approach to check the tangible and practical aspects of each property you visit can help you make the most of your time. Here's some practical tips to help you be successful with open house inspections. Make a list When looking for the perfect home or investment property purchase, it pays to have a checklist of things that are important to you. Firstly, it will help you with your search – so you don't waste time inspecting properties that don't offer what you require. But it will also save you time when actually making your inspections. Create your checklist when you choose a property to view from an advertisement or from your research online. Include all the things you're looking for in a house – the number of bedrooms, quality and size of the kitchen, number of bathrooms, toilets and so on. You should also include less tangible aspects of the home on your checklist too - things like location, local amenities, schools, access to public transport, is it a quiet street - any other criteria that affect the general value of the house. Take your time In most cases, you will have very few opportunities to visit a property before you make an offer to purchase it. That's why it's important to take your time and inspect everything carefully when attending an open house inspection. Use your checklist to make sure you don't miss anything that's important to you. When we say ‘inspect' we mean take the time to do a bit more than just take a quick look at things! Check that the appliances work – check the cooker and air conditioning unit, how old are they? In the bathroom, turn on the taps to check the water pressure and how long it takes for the hot water to reach the faucet. A bad result could mean the plumbing and hot water heater need work. Take the time to look past the gorgeous décor and pretty landscaping! Vendors dress the house to sell and this can often distract you from looking properly at the house itself. Clever furniture placement can make rooms seem larger and hide a multitude of sins. Take the time to measure rooms, open cupboard doors to check storage space, look behind the couch and fixtures to see if the walls are OK. Check that window and door locks are adequate, take a good look at external factors like the state of the fences, gardens and roof. Make notes Using your phone to take pictures is a great way to remember the properties you visit. But after a while, it can still be difficult to differentiate one from another. Make notes about all the things you like and don't like about a property. When you get home you can go over your notes objectively and more easily decide which properties deserve a second viewing. If you fall in love with a house, it's more important than ever to make a list of anything that might not be up to scratch. Your defects list can give you bargaining power on price, so it's important to keep a level head and look for anything you can use to give you an edge during the negotiations. Ask questions Take the time to talk with the real estate agent and ask as many questions as you can. (Remember to keep notes on the answers!). This could not only help you to make more informed choices when you decide to buy a property, it could also give you an advantage when negotiating on price. Here's some questions you might like to consider:

  • Have you had any offers on the property?
  • Has the vendor rejected any offers?
  • How long has the house been on the market?
  • Has there been a building inspection/pest inspection report done? May I have a copy?
  • Why are the owners selling? (If it's a divorce or deceased estate, you could get a bargain)
  • Are there any costs of ownership/fees? (Particularly important if it's an apartment or unit.)
  • When was the house last renovated?
  • How old are the appliances – water heater/cooker?
  • Leave your details with the agent
  • Many people visit open house inspections and deliberately avoid leaving their details with the real estate agent. This is a missed opportunity to enlist a property expert in helping you locate the house or investment you've been looking for.
If you visit a property and it's not for you, just tell the real estate agent that you are definitely not interested in pursuing this opportunity but you would be interested in hearing about other properties in the area that might be suitable. That way the agent will call you to let you know about new listings and that might place you ahead of the pack when it comes to finding your dream home. Another great way to cut down on the number of open house inspections you need to attend is to decide exactly how much you can afford to spend on the property before you start looking. Talk to us about your financial circumstances and budget before you begin – that way you won't waste time and energy on properties that are beyond your reach.

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