Open House, Open Eyes

Do you know what you should look for when visiting an open house? We do!

It can be tough to remember what to keep an eye out for when visiting an open house, especially if you’re the type of person that quickly falls in love with décor or layout. Next time you check out an open house, keep these helpful tips in mind.

The Neighbourhood

Choosing your neighbourhood is as important as choosing the house itself. You need to do your research and decide where you want to be. If you’re planning on having a family down the road, find out where the good schools are located. If you’re somebody who doesn’t like to drive, consider the bus routes. If you’re a city person, find a nice area you’ll enjoy, whereas if the peaceful rural has your heart, shop around those areas. The point is, do as much homework as possible so that you won’t have to quickly resell the house in a year or so. Let’s face it; you’d have to pay the transfer tax all over again, plus moving costs and face the hassle of moving.

Before going to the open house, learn about the neighbourhood. Look into things like crime rate and demographics, as well as community groups and activities. Once in the area, note the traffic speeds and the conditions of homes, walk the streets, and talk to the neighbours, you’ll get a much better feel for the area than if you just talk to the sellers.

The Exterior

A house’s exterior can make or break the deal and it’s important to look for the sometimes hidden indicators that a home may need work. When visiting an open house be sure to look for roof shingles that may need replacing, decks or patios that could be rotting, or a driveway that may need repaving. Repairs can set you back quite a bit financially so it’s best to know what’s in store should you buy the house.


Everyone has a routine and it’s important to live in a space that works for you. When visiting an open house, make sure the flow works for you. Walk through the home as if it’s your own and imagine living there.  Is the kitchen big enough for a table? Do you have more than one bathroom? Everyone has their preferences and needs so be sure to consider yours.

Smells and Stains

A strange smell can be a sure sign that something isn’t right so be sure to keep your noise alert while moseying through an open house. Scents such as stale cigarettes, cat pee, or mold can be tough to get rid of so it’s important to pick up on these points from the beginning.


Windows are an extremely important feature in a home, not only do they add natural light, but they can also save you money. Having lots of windows in your home means you won’t need to spend as much on lighting, and come the warmer months you can substitute an air conditioner for a fresh breeze.

Be sure to check windows for cracks, rot, and necessary repairs. If you have pets, screens may be something else to note.


It’s funny how we don’t realize how much we have until it’s time to move. That’s why noting the amount of storage space is so important when looking at homes. While closet space is an obvious one, cupboards and drawers are important to consider, especially if you’re downsizing from a larger home into a smaller one.


Keep an eye out for any renovations that have been made to the home and ask to see any building permits. After all, people may think they are pretty handy but we can’t all be Mike Holmes. It’s always better to know what work has been done on the property before you decide to buy.

Questions and Notes

Before you visit an open house, have a list of questions ready to ask the agent showing the home. For example, when was the property constructed, how old is the water boiler, or how long has it been listed? Making a list ahead of time means you won’t forget to cover anything when you’re there.

Just as important as asking questions, make notes and take pictures. Doing so will allow you to compare the properties you’re interested in, and could also be helpful in negotiating the selling price. An extra bonus is that when you do decide on a property you can look back on the notes and photos to start planning your decorating scheme.

If you’re looking to buy a home and have questions about the process or getting a mortgage, contact us today!