Having the opportunity to walk around stunning properties and flirt with the idea of purchasing them is the dream of every budding home buyer, so it’s understandable that it’s easy to let excitement get the better of you. However, it’s essential that you don’t let it cloud your judgement.

Before hitting the streets in search of your new home, you need to have a clear list of exactly what you need from your home, as well as how much you’re willing to spend. This way, when you’re attending open homes, you’ll be able to work your way through the list. Instead of losing track of the details of each individual property after visiting a large number of them, you’ll have a clear idea of which ones best suit your needs.

Common items that Australians look for in properties are off-street parking, storage, extra bathrooms, outdoor areas and a garden shed, however all the things that make it to your list will have their own reasons specific to your lifestyle.

As soon as you arrive at your open home, find the agent and ask them for a copy of the floor plan and be prepared to take notes as you walk around the property. If you need to, ask the agent if it’s okay for you to take pictures.

The Condition and Position of the Property

The open home doesn’t start when you arrive at the property – it begins when you start the drive to get there. Have a look around the local area, see what the traffic is like and how well-kept the streets are. Overgrown areas, graffiti on fences and empty shops should all be warning signs.

Depending on where you are in the country, the amount of sun the property gets can have a huge impact, so make sure you check this upon arrival to the home. This will give you an idea of how hot the house will get in summer, and how cool it’ll be in winter.

You should also take a look at the external surfaces of the property. Although the vendors will likely have prepared the house for sale, there are tell-tale signs that a home will need work. Are the gutters and drainage pipes well-maintained, or are they rusty? Are there cracks in the walls or footpaths?

In addition to this, review how much space there is between this property and any neighbouring homes, and once you’re inside, check to see if you’re overlooked. Privacy is a big deal, so you don’t want your neighbours to be able to look straight into the garden when you’re soaking up some sun.

The Property’s Foundations and Structure

As mentioned above, you should pay particular attention to any cracks in the walls or floors. Usually these are naturally-occurring, but they should still be a red flag in your notes as they could signal a risk of subsidence. Superficial cracks shouldn’t be an issue but look out for wider horizontal cracks. Examine door frames for any evidence of long-term damage, and don’t be shy when it comes to opening window to see how well they’re working.

The majority of these issues should be brought to light by any pest or building inspections, but it’s best to be safe and take a look yourself, as repairs to a property’s structure can rack up into the thousands. Examine walls and floors for water damage and be wary of any exterior areas that have ivy growing on them.

Be Suspicious of Overwhelming Smells

Although it might be nice to be hit by the scent of freshly-baked bread or infused flowers, alarm bells should be ringing, as they could have been used to mask other more sinister odours. The vendors could be covering up the smell of mould or urine from pets, as well as the unmistakeable odour of rodents. Keep an eye out for oddly-positioned rugs or pieces of furniture, as these could be covering up the evidence.

Internal Fittings and Fixtures

There are going to be items inside that obviously would have come with the home, and some that have been added in by the current owners. As a result, you should make a note of items that don’t look like they’re permanently fixed and speak with the agent about them. This will avoid you being disappointed when that breakfast bar in the kitchen isn’t there on move-in day.

You should also check how well any fixtures are working. Every house should have good water pressure, but you’d be surprised by the amount of properties that don’t. Check how well the shower works and find out how many (if any) of the kitchen appliances will be staying post-move. You should also pay particular attention to loose door handles, light fittings and power points, as you might have to hire a contractor to get these changed.

The information and links provided on this website are for general information only and should not be taken as constituting professional advice. This information does not take into account the financial situation or particular needs of individual readers. Before making any decisions about matters discussed on this website, you should consider whether it is suitable for you in light of your own circumstances, and seek appropriate advice.