7 things home buyers should look for at an open house

While there are many online resources can you find a home in Houston, no website or app is as enlightening as seeing the real thing. Granted, searching online can give you an idea of what a house is like, but you won't know whether it's a good fit until you actually walk through the door and check it out yourself.

Fortunately for you, Better Homes and Garden Real Estate Gary Greene is hosting more than 400 open houses this weekend in neighborhoods all over greater Houston area.

Granted searching online can give you an idea of what a house is like, but you won't know whether it's a good fit until you actually walk through the door and check it out yourself.

If you are looking to buy a new home, taking advantage of open houses can help save time and provide a glimpse into the opportunities available in your community. Plus, open houses area great way to get a sense of the experience that will come with that property.

Here are seven things you should do when visiting an open house:

Look beyond the curb appeal
While the total picture is important, you'll want to glance beyond what you see in the front yard. Check the exterior paint for chipping, the condition of gutters and roof shingles, and the foundation for cracks. Walk the entire perimeter of the home's exterior. Problems here could indicate other issues once you step inside. Also, consider the details of the home - even small complaints now may come to bother you more down the road.

Will the house flow with your family?
The layout of a home matters with the age and activity level of your children, the need for quiet spaces for the adults, and placement of pets within the residence. As you tour, ask yourself: will this space meet our needs over the long haul? Is it spacious enough?

Peek at the neighbors and surroundings
If you buy a home, you're also buying into the community. Does the property next door raise any red flags? Do the neighbors on the other sides of your fence have any problematic or noisy pets? Pay attention to traffic flow in the community. Also, does the neighborhood offer a pool, fitness or community center, and other amenities you might enjoy?

Can the house breathe?
Do you like to open the windows to allow in a spring breeze at home? Are you a fan of natural light? Look for opportunities to allow fresh air and sunshine into the home, depending on your preferences. Are there enough windows and doors?

Follow your nose
The faint odor of mildew might indicate the home was flooded, or it could be the sign of some sort of drainage or leak issue. Take a big whiff around the property, and ask the agent plenty of questions.

Consider your closet and storage needs
You know how much stuff you have. Where will it all go? Check for enough closet space for your clothing and shoes. Did you see a place to store holiday decorations, extra linens, and the vacuum? Make sure the houses you are considering meet those needs, and think about what you'd put where when you're touring the home.

Three questions to ask before making an offer
Everyone likes to make a great deal. Here are three things you should ask an agent at an open house that could lead to a win-win situation for both you and the seller:
  • How many offers have been made? Some agents will not hesitate to tell you about an incoming offer in hopes you will compete and drive up the price.
  • How stable has the price been? If the price recently dropped, it might mean the sellers are being forced to move out on a tight timeline. This could suggest the list price is flexible.
  • What's the seller's timeline? The more you can find out about their needs, the better the opportunity to come up with a smart offer that meets your needs.

ENTER FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN $1,000: If you visit any Gary Greene open house in Houston this weekend, and register, you have a chance to win a cash prize of $1,000. Visit the Gary Greene website for contest details.