Buying a home is a big decision. In San Francisco open houses present a great opportunity to view a property without an appointment. When viewing that property it’s important to know what to look for and make the best use of your time. Here are the tips that I often recommend to clients which will help as you begin your foray into buying your home.
1. As you approach your first open house, I tell my clients to try to park a few blocks away from the subject property, especially if they are unfamiliar with the neighborhood. A lot of decisions are made more on the surrounding areas more than they are on the property itself. As a first time buyer you don’t want to fall in love with a home only to walk the neighborhood and find its not nearly as charming. The high quality photos you see online are just like most everyone’s Facebook profile; Only what you want people to see is shown, so be sure to explore the surroundings.
2. As you enter the house, how would it feel to come home to this? Does the flow feel natural? Are the bedrooms facing the street or at the back of the house? This becomes more important on a busier street, but may not be as noticeable during your initial walkthrough as noise pollution from other guests often muddle noise. Unless you have an ambitious list of homes to see within a short window, take your time.
3. More often than not, vacant homes are professionally staged. Pay attention to how the layout was put together to maximize the space. Maybe you have a vastly different opinion on how to use a room than how it was staged. A common example of this in San Francisco is using a double parlor commonly with pocket doors or formal dining room as an extra bedroom. It may be staged this way or may be an alternative uses better suited to your needs.
4. Pay close attention to the views, as well as things you can’t change that are in your surroundings. If there is a deck, is the view partially altered by power lines? What do the neighbors’ yards look like? Are they well kept or does it look more like a junkyard? These are factors that may be beyond your control and can certainly affect a properties value.
5. As you begin to leave the property take a close look at the street parking. In some areas having an assigned parking spot can be mandatory if you commute to work or have multiple cars. Imagine as if you were coming home at different times of the day and how difficult it would be to park on the street. Is there a hospital nearby or a public building that would affect the parking density at different times of the day? If you are serious about a subject property, think about coming back to view it again with your agent at a different time of day. Perhaps parking is more difficult at night than previously expected or the home gets much less natural light than previously thought.
These are a few ideas to help prepare you so you can get the most out of attending open houses. If you are working with an agent, communicating your concerns or questions should provide more clarity and help you make an informed and confident decision as you buy your first home.
For additional tips or to discuss your buyer needs feel free to reach out to the Brown and Co. Group.
Posted by Joel “Skip” Schilperoort