Whether it’s your first home or not, it’s important to know what you’re looking for when purchasing a home. Attending open houses is a key step in getting a feel for what you like, what you don’t like, what’s on the market, and what’s within your budget. It’s critical to know what to watch out for during each tour considering that the next house you walk into could be your next home. To help you understand what to look out for, here are a few key things to keep in mind  during every open house you attend.

Location, Location, Location

If you’ve ever watched an episode of House Hunters, you know why we’re covering this as an important thing to keep in mind. As you arrive at an open house, pay close attention to the part of the home you can control the least… the neighborhood. There are a few things regarding location that we encourage you to take note of during your next house hunting venture:

  • Condition of the neighborhood property – How well kept is the overall neighborhood? Are lawns maintained, driveaways taken care of, homes washed? Your home is an investment, and how your neighbors treat their own investment will actually affect the value of yours.
  • Family-friendly – If you are looking for a neighborhood that is family-oriented, look to see if there are children around that are of a similar age. What school zone does the property belong to? Does it meet the expectations you have for your children’s education? If you are hoping for families but instead find a college-aged population, you may want to reconsider that community.
  • Noise – Look to see if neighbors have pets on their property. If they do, are they kept outside? Are they barking and making noise? For some, pets are a welcome sight in the neighborhood, but for others they can be an unwelcome nuisance  or even a danger. Is the house near a busy highway, train tracks, or a hospital? Keep in mind that heavy traffic can be difficult to ignore at night which could negatively affect your family’s sleep habits.
  • Nearby hazards – In Florida communities, small bodies of water are common, creating a hub for the ever-present local wildlife. This can create legitimate safety concerns if you have small children or pets. Be on the lookout for hazards like these because of drowning risks, wildlife like gators, or flooding hazards during the rainy season. Small standing bodies of water are also breeding grounds for mosquitoes which can make any outside space a nightmare during the humid summer months. Proximity is very important when considering how to enjoy the beauty of Florida’s wildlife, ponds, and lakes. Other hazards include things like busy roads, forestry, and even local crime rates.

If you feel comfortable with some of these initial impressions of the neighborhood and surrounding area, make sure to take a walk around the neighborhood before or after the open house. You can even come back to the neighborhood at a different time of day to get a better feel for it.

The Home and Property

It’s important to know what you’re getting into with an open house. A few key home aspects and red flags to look out for at an open house include:

  • Foundation issues – While some small hairline cracks are normal for homes settling, larger cracks could indicate an issue in the foundation of the home. Are the floors level? Do the doors close properly? If you see any of these issues with a home, be wary.
  • Water damage – As you explore the house, pay extra close attention to any staining, warping, or damage as they could be due to past water issues. This includes flooding, busted pipes, or even a leaks in areas like the roof.
  • Mold and mildew – Related to water damage, keep a close eye out for mold and mildew around the home. Open up cabinets, check crawl spaces, and explore corners of the home that could be susceptible to these threats. If the open house smells too strongly of cleaners or air fresheners, it could be an attempt to mask the smell of mold and mildew.
  • Ventilation – The layout of your home will have a large impact on air flow and ventilation of your home. Are the windows and doors set up to be opened to welcome a summer breeze into your home? Is the interior ventilation system designed to remove that extra moisture afterward?
  • Neglected maintenance – As an all-encompassing issue, look out for smaller issues that may have been ignored and not for the betterment of the home. This could be something as small as a burned out lightbulb or as big as a leaking window or faucet. If you see a pattern with these issues adding up, it could be indicative of more problems that haven gone unnoticed and unattended. A house which is cheaper up front could quickly end up costing more than you expected just six months down the road.

While these are all important things to look for during an open house, this is not an exhaustive list and every home (and buyer) is different. We always recommend participating in a couple of open houses to get a feel for what makes a house a home for your family and knowing what to look out for.

The Next Steps

Once you find that perfect house that fits all of your criteria, our team of mortgage professionals can help you live where you love throughout North Central Florida. Contact our team to learn more about the financing options available.