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House Hunting Checklist: 10 Must-Check Boxes During Open Houses

Looking for a home can be a fun and exciting time, but comes with challenges. Open houses offer a firsthand look at potential homes, but beyond the initial charm, there's a checklist of crucial factors to examine. These 10 considerations can help you make a more informed decision:

1. Structural Integrity: Assess the structural soundness of the property. Look for cracks in walls, sloping floors, or signs of water damage as these can indicate underlying issues with the footings or foundation.

2. Property Condition: Take note of the property's condition. Ask about the age of the roof, what type of heating and cooling systems are there and how old these systems are. It’s important to have an idea of what may need replacing in the next few years so you can budget these costs.

3. Neighborhood Vibe: Explore the neighborhood. Is it noisy or peaceful? What amenities are nearby? Consider your lifestyle and how well the area aligns with your needs. What is the walk-ability score?

4. Natural Light and Ventilation: Pay attention to natural light and ventilation. Adequate sunlight and airflow can significantly impact the ambiance and comfort of a home.

5. Storage Space: Evaluate the available storage space—closets, cabinets, attic, or basement. Sufficient storage can make everyday living more convenient.

6. Safety Measures: Check for safety features like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms, handrails on stairs, secure windows, and adequate lighting inside and outside the property.

7. Pests: On Vancouver Island, we have subterranean and dampwood termites, as well as powderpost beetles, who can damage structural integrity. These types of pests are usually connected to moisture, so a damp home is at much higher risk. If you see tiny piles of very fine sawdust on the floor, it may be worth getting an exterminator to check. That said, they are often impossible to detect until the problem is big.

8. Future Renovation Potential: Consider the potential for renovations or modifications. Are there expansion possibilities or areas that can be repurposed to suit your needs?

9. Water Penetration: In our wet West Coast, it is important to know how the home will regulate it’s moisture levels. Is it built on an incline with water running toward it or away from it? Are there drainage tiles? Is there a rainscreen in the exterior cladding?

10. The Future of the Neighbourhood: Each municipality has a development tracker website where you can see all the sites up for re-development or re-zoning. It’s important to check! The homes beside you could be about to enter into a land assembly and the quiet street you were looking forward to turns into a construction zone for the next few years.

Remember, an open house is an opportunity to gather information and get a feel for the property. Don't hesitate to ask questions and take notes. Additionally, working with a trusted real estate agent can provide valuable insights and guidance throughout this process. A buyer’s real estate agent doesn’t cost the buyer anything! They are paid by the seller. Real estate agents have access to the Property Disclosure Statements (PDS) that ask sellers many questions about the home including questions about structural integrity and water damage. However, if the sellers have never lived on the property, then they are not required to answer these questions. Whether or not there is a PDS, and whether or not you have a real estate agent, getting a home inception from a licensed home inspector is always a good idea. Please do NOT go into attics or crawl spaces! The only people can do so to inspect them are licensed housing inspectors.

Navigating open houses armed with these considerations can empower you to make a more informed decision when it comes to choosing your future home.

Happy house hunting!

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