What You Might Not Know to Look For At an Open House

What You Might Not Know to Look For At an Open House

Open houses are a crucial part of the home-buying process. They offer potential buyers a chance to inspect a property firsthand, asking questions and getting a feel for a home before making an offer. While many people know to look for the basics – checking the condition of the kitchen, the size of the bedrooms, and the functionality of the bathrooms – there are often overlooked details that can give deeper insights into a property’s true value and potential pitfalls.

Here are some lesser-known aspects to be mindful of during your next open house visit.

Notice scents

Odors can be revealing. Musty smells might indicate mold or mildew issues, while a strong scent of air fresheners or candles could be masking pet odors or smoke.

Check the Water Pressure

Turn on a faucet, flush the toilet, and even take a moment to see how the shower feels. Low water pressure could hint at plumbing issues.

Inspect the Windows

Are they double-glazed? Do they open and close smoothly? Quality windows are a sign of good overall maintenance and can also affect energy bills.

Examine Floor Levels

Uneven flooring, especially in older homes, might indicate settling issues or foundation problems.

Observe the Neighbors

The condition of neighboring properties can impact the future value of your potential home. Are they well-maintained? Are there noisy establishments nearby?

Different neighborhoods have varying lifestyles and cultures. Some are bustling, lively, and social, while others offer a quieter, more reserved environment. Observing the neighbors can give you a snapshot of the community's culture and if it aligns with your desired lifestyle.

How neighbors care for their properties can impact the overall value and appeal of the neighborhood. Well-maintained homes and gardens can suggest a sense of community pride, which can be beneficial for property values and overall neighborhood aesthetic. Watching and listening can give you an idea of the neighborhood's general noise levels. Are there children playing outside, implying a more family-friendly area? Are there frequent parties or loud gatherings that might disturb the peace during weekends?

Review Utility Bills

Asking to see past utility bills can provide insight into the home's efficiency. High bills might suggest poor insulation or outdated appliances. Pennsylvania, with its diverse climate ranging from cold winters to warmer summers, can substantially change utility bills. For potential homeowners in the Keystone State, understanding and reviewing utility bills becomes not just a matter of budgeting but also of gleaning insights into the home's energy efficiency and potential areas for improvement.

Pennsylvania is subject to cold winters, often necessitating heating, and warmer summers that may require cooling. The region you're considering will affect utility costs. Reviewing past utility bills gives you a tangible sense of how much it costs to keep the home comfortable throughout the year.

High utility bills can indicate inefficiencies. This could be due to outdated heating systems, poor insulation, old windows, or other factors that challenge temperature regulation. On the other hand, a home with consistently lower utility costs might hint at recent upgrades or well-maintained systems, adding value to the property.

It's crucial to identify the primary sources of energy in the house. In Pennsylvania, many homes might use heating oil, natural gas, or even electric heating systems. Each has its cost structure, and understanding this can help you forecast potential future expenses. For instance, a house primarily heated with oil might experience more price volatility than one with natural gas.

Test Outlets and Switches

This might sound tedious, but testing electrical outlets and switches can alert you to potential electrical issues.

Check Cell Reception

You’d be surprised how many people forget this one. Make sure your phone works in all parts of the house.

Examine the Roof

While you might not be able to climb up for a closer look during an open house, you can still note its general condition. Curled or missing shingles, moss growth, or visible wear can be indicators of a soon-needed replacement.

Research the Area's Future Development Plans

While the current view might be scenic, future constructions or commercial establishments could change that. Check with local planning departments for upcoming projects.

Test Noise Levels

Is the house near a school, major roadway, or commercial hub? Stand quietly for a moment in various parts of the home to evaluate ambient noise.

Ask About the Home's History

Was the property ever rented out? Were there major renovations? A home's past can speak volumes about its current condition.

The list of considerations might seem overwhelming, but this is where a knowledgeable real estate agent becomes invaluable. An experienced agent can guide you through these and other considerations, ensuring you're well-informed before making any decisions.

Debbie Quigley: Your Trusted Guide Through Open Houses

Speaking of experienced real estate agents, having a dedicated expert like Debbie Quigley by your side is essential if you're embarking on a house hunt. Debbie brings years of expertise and a keen eye for details, ensuring you don’t miss those easily overlooked aspects during an open house.

She understands that purchasing a home is more than just a transaction – it's a journey filled with hopes, dreams, and occasional stress. Partnering with Debbie ensures a smoother, more informed home-buying process.

Ready to uncover the hidden gems and potential pitfalls in your next open house? Don’t walk this path alone. Contact Debbie Quigley today and discover how she can be your guiding light in the intricate world of real estate.

*Header photo courtesy of Debbie Quigley


Debbie is a true partner for her clients in the process of buying and selling homes and looks forward to helping you in your next real estate transaction. Let her show you the way!

Follow Me on Instagram