Prospective property buyers rarely have more than 30 minutes to inspect a place they could potentially spend the next 30 years paying off.

So what should you be looking for during an open home to make the most of that time? Real estate agents know it is pretty much impossible to check everything during the half-hour window.

We’ve put together some handy tips to help you keep your eyes on what’s important.

First impressions

During the first open home, you really want to know whether this home is for you. So your initial focus should be on the property’s layout and renovation potential. Some things to focus on include:

  • See if the kitchen runs to the deck or opens onto the backyard
  • Have a look at the bathrooms — are they renovated?
  • How big are the rooms?
  • How big is the backyard? Is there a garage? Is there a carport?

If a home ticks 90 per cent of your boxes – book a second inspection.

There is no harm in arriving a few minutes earlier to open homes before the property is swarmed by other buyers. This gives you a calmer time to look around.

Nosing around

When it comes to checking inside cupboards or sizing up the shower – go for it! But we recommend waiting until the second inspection to do this.

Through the cracks

For example, in Queensland recently the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) said prospective buyers should keep an eye out for any significant interior or exterior cracks.

“Look for any obvious signs of water leaks, dampness or mould, and any major sticking or inoperable windows or doors,” a spokesperson for the QBCC said.

“It’s also good to check that the lights all operate, the taps run and water in the shower and basins escape efficiently down the drains.”

The spokesperson said it was also worthwhile to check the meter box or the inside of the cupboard under the kitchen sink.

“This is where the termite inspectors should have placed a sticker at their last inspection,” they said.

Things people forget

Whilst storage is very important to most buyers, it was often something that got overlooked during the inspection as was access to the backyard.

For example, can you get to the backyard with a small truck or car for landscaping purposes?

It’s also very easy to forget to check whether there were internal stairs to garages or between parts of the house. This can be important as if there are no internal stairs, it’s really hard to install them after the fact. You basically have to remodel the whole house.

The second inspection is the best time to thoroughly check the details and it’s recommended booking the additional viewing for a different time of day, to see what the lighting, noise and traffic were like. You may also want to consider driving past in the evenings.

The QBCC said anyone looking to make an offer on a property should always engage licensed contractors to undertake pre-purchase building and pest inspections.

“This provides prospective purchasers with knowledge around the general condition of the house, and any likely immediate works that may be required to rectify major defects identified,” the spokesperson said.

“While it’s usually done by a solicitor once a home is under contract, for a small fee a prospective purchaser may wish to contact the QBCC or equivalent in their state or territory and have a report completed on the property to see if any recent building work has been undertaken or if the home is still covered under the Home Warranty Insurance Scheme.”

What should you be thinking abut when making an offer?

Hopefully you have a home loan pre-approval so you know how much you can afford, and that a lender will approve your home loan to buy the property.

You also need to consider the finance clause and how much time you have to obtain unconditional finance approval. If you don’t receive this in time, you may lose the property, and legally the vendor can retain any deposit you’ve paid.

Currently, many people are being caught out with most major lenders taking sometimes up to 30 days to consider your home loan application.

There are many alternative lenders in the market offering secure home loans, with rates that can match or beat the banks, and with better service. Your lending specialist will discuss all options with you to make sure you get the right home loan, and that your loan is approved on time.

We’re here to help

Our lending specialists offer a no obligation planning session that can help you understand your home loan options – and take the stress out of moving or buying a home.

Our home loan products are a real alternative to the major banks and offer competitive pricing, full features, and no fees on a number of our loans.

To find out more fill in your details below and we’ll be in touch. We’re available for a simple chat either in person, phone, or online.

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This article is prepared based on general information. It does not take into account individual financial objectives or needs and is not financial product advice. Credit criteria applies to any loan application.