Visiting an open home can be an exciting but daunting prospect for anyone looking to rent or buy, from experienced investors to first-time renters.
There are a multitude of things to consider, as well as deciding if the place “feels right”, and it is easy to overlook important details as you get swept away by the thought of where you would place your dining table, or whether you like the colour scheme in the master bedroom.
It can never hurt to take a small checklist along with you so you know what to look for and what is important to you about the house you are seeing. So what should you look for?
1. Location and noise
While different times of day can be noisier than others, it is easy to consider what potential noise might become an issue if you were to live in the house.
> Is there a railway or busy road nearby?
> Is there an airport within 10 kilometres or so? Is the property under a flight path?
> Visit the street during rush hour. Is it busy with commuters even though it was quiet on the Saturday during the open home?
> Is there a bus stop nearby? Or a bus route?
> How close are the local shops and schools?
2. Is the building structurally sound?
If you have a successful offer on a house you should always carry out a building and pest inspection, but there are certain things you can pick up before it comes to this, even if you are not an expert:
> Is there any evidence of damp anywhere? For example, mould, bubbling or peeling paint, dampness on exterior bricks, or soggy areas in the garden. Bubbling paint can also be evidence of termite activity.
> Are there any cracks in the walls? This could indicate subsidence if the house is on stumps, but if there are also cracks in the brickwork it could indicate a major structural problem.
> If the floors feel bouncy it may mean the stumps need replacing.
> How old is the property? Does it have restrictions related to heritage listing?
3. Is the house heated, cooled or insulated wall?
> Visiting on a cool day may make the house feel comfortable, but will it still be as nice on a hot day if there are no ceiling fans or air conditioning?
> Are there flyscreens on the windows so you can ventilate the house without an invasion of bugs?
> Ask the agent or try to check what insulation is in the property. It might be nice and warm in summer, but it could be freezing in winter
4. Your personal checklist
Everyone wants different things from a house, so write down your must-haves and tick them off as you tour the house. For example, you may wish to look for:
> How many car spaces are there?
> Will you have adequate storage for the family?
> How big are the rooms for your children?
5. The golden rule
If possible, always try to visit the property more than once, and at different times of day. Everything looks and sounds different at different times and the more of an impression you get of the place the more you can be confident you are doing the right thing.