10 Spots It's Okay to Snoop at Every Open House

Attending open houses can feel a bit awkward at first—after all, you’re basically invading the private space of a perfect stranger. But buying a home is a time to be bold. Make sure to be polite and discreet, and go ahead and peek into corners and covered-up spots. Knowledge is power, and playing detective can pay off royally when it’s time to negotiate a deal.

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  1. Under the Kitchen Sink


    That kitchen may have a gleaming state-of-the-art basin, but what’s going on underneath? Find out by taking a good look at the pipes to make sure they're in good shape, and examine the inside of cabinets for signs of leaking or rust.

    Related: 9 Handy Under-Sink Organizers to Buy or DIY


  2. On the Roof


    You don’t have to climb up, but you should scope out the roof from down below and from higher vantage points like second-story windows. Look for peeling or broken shingles, buckles, and other signs that materials may need replacing soon. While you're at it, check out the condition of drainage gutters as well.

    Related: 7 Signs You Need a New Roof


  3. Under the Floorboards


    Beware stained or warped floors, and listen closely when you’re walking from room to room. Is there a lot of squeaking or movement underfoot? That could signal shoddy construction. And if you can, head down to the basement to check out the beams and floors from down below. 

    Related: 9 Questions to Ask Before You Buy a Fixer-Upper


  4. In the Boiler Room


    If you do get down to the basement, remember to inspect the hot water heater and any heating and cooling systems. Ask the listing agent when these systems were last replaced. Check for weird smells or noises and any signs of dripping or seepage.

    Related: The Top 10 Costly Mistakes Home Buyers Make


  5. In the Closets


    Storage space is a major concern for most homebuyers. If that’s the case for you, stick your nose into every closet and cabinet you can. Are the shelves and rods in decent shape, and is it roomy enough to hold your clothes? Keep an eye open for telltale roach or rodent traps, too.

    Related: 21 Big Ideas for Small Closets


  6. Behind the Shower Curtain


    Staging experts often recommend buying a pretty new shower curtain, which can give your bathroom a whole new look. That’s all good, but a savvy buyer knows to look behind the curtain to determine if tiles and grout are in good condition, if there’s any trace of mold, and if the faucets and shower head function well.

    Related: 11 Common Problems Home Sellers Try to Hide


  7. Underneath the Rug


    What can be swept under the rug at an open house? A slew of problems, from water-stained wood to cracked floor tiles to peeling linoleum. Be polite about it, but ask if you can roll the rug up to check out the surfaces below.

    Related: 8 Home Costs That Take New Buyers by Surprise


  8. Behind the Bushes


    Lush plantings around a home may be a selling point if they’re lovely and well-maintained—but that landscaping may also be covering up a crumbling foundation. Do some bushwhacking to check for cracks in concrete, peeling paint, and other indications that major repairs may be needed.

    Related: Don't Make These 8 Mistakes in Your Front Yard


  9. On the Shelves


    While you’re in each room, take a peek at the shelves and cabinets—both can can yield helpful clues about a home’s hidden problems. Do you see a ton of roach spray or mildew remover? Use these clues to formulate questions for the sellers about any ongoing issues.

    Related: A Dozen 10-Minute DIYs for a Pest-Free Home


  10. Over the Fence


    You’re not just purchasing a home—you’re adopting a neighborhood. Take careful note of all of the neighboring yards. Do you see obvious signs of a partying crowd? Snarling dogs? A chainsaw sculpture business? It definitely pays to be nosy now if you want peace and quiet once you’ve sealed the deal.

    Related: 11 Ideas for Better Backyard Privacy


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