Searching for a new home? The listing price and interior features aren’t the only things to keep in mind when looking at a house. Nowadays, buyers must also remember to watch out for hidden cameras, high maintenance costs and bad neighbors when touring a property. For more advice on what to look out for when attending an open house or a private showing, read our seven tips below. 

The sellers might be watching and listening

In today’s tech-savvy world, buyers must be aware that sellers could be watching and listening during a showing. From Ring video doorbells to Nest security cams, many of today’s homes are outfitted in smart cameras and microphones, making it easy for homeowners to spy on potential buyers as they tour a house. As a result, buyers must be careful with their words and actions while house hunting. In fact, we recommend that buyers always act as if they are being watched (and listened to) when looking at a house – this means being careful not to over-praise or insult a home. Remember: you can always discuss your real thoughts and feelings about the home after you’ve left the premises.

The comparable sales in the area

  1. Research nearby comparable sales before touring a home. These “comps,” or comparable sales, refer to recently sold properties that have similar characteristics. Make sure to pay attention to a comp’s square footage, features and location. This will give you a good idea of whether or not a home is priced fairly. If the home seems over-priced compared to comps, then ask yourself “why?”. Has it been recently updated? Are the finishes nicer than other nearby properties? On the other hand, if the home is priced considerably lower than nearby comps, this may signal a fixer-upper situation.

The size of the home and potential growth challenges

  1. Thinking of growing your family? If you plan to expand, be sure to keep this in mind when perusing homes. A common mistake that many buyers make is purchasing a small home, only to end up with a space that doesn’t fit their growing family later down the road. Trust us: the last thing you want to do is move and then move again in the near future. So even if a two-bedroom apartment fits your needs now, keep in mind that it may not fit them in several years. Be sure the house has an adequate number of bedrooms and an adequate amount of square footage to meet your future plans.

The Realtor’s relationship to the sellers

  1. Does your Realtor (or buyer’s agent) also happen to be the listing agent of the home for sale? If so, consider hiring another agent to guide you through the process. While having a dual agent may allow more flexibility in a home’s price, it could end up hurting the buyer in the long run. When the agent represents both the seller and the buyer, the agent technically becomes a transactional broker representing only the transaction. However, since it’s in the Realtor’s best interest (and the seller’s) to get the most money possible for the listing, it’s unlikely that they will truly have the buyer’s best interest at heart. For this reason, we recommend finding a real estate agent who doesn’t have conflicting interests. Want to learn more about the difference between the buyer’s agent and the listing agent? Check here.

The location of the home

  1. You know what they say when it comes to real estate: “location, location, location!”. While buyers can replace finishes, move walls and repaint surfaces, they can’t change the location of the home. Buyers must be aware that location is the single most important characteristic of a home. It impacts resale value (and the value in general) more than any other feature of a house. Remember: you don’t want to be the best home on the worst block. So when house hunting, be sure to keep the location top of mind.

The hidden costs of owning a home

  1. Mortgage payments aren’t the only thing that costs money. When house hunting, buyers must be aware of other major expenses that go along with homeownership. For instance, if the home is larger than the previous house, buyers will likely have to spend more money on new furnishings and high utility bills. Other additional costs include homeowner’s insurance, property taxes, closing costs and possible renovation costs. Buyers should also factor in the cost of general maintenance needs. For example, if the home has a swimming pool or elaborate landscaping, buyers will need to be able to pay for the upkeep of these features.

The neighbors age and lifestyle

  1. “Who are the neighbors?” should be the question on every buyer’s minds when looking at a home. After all, neighbors can easily make or break a living situation. Families with young kids should look out for signs of other nearby families, such as basketball goals in the driveway or toys on the lawn. Retirees looking for a 55+ community should avoid looking at neighborhoods packed with young children. Of course, everyone must watch out for neighborhoods with bad neighbors. From inconsiderate dog owners, who think it’s acceptable to let their dog bark at night, to party hardy neighbors, who are loud and obnoxious, here are several bad neighbors you should avoid when buying a home.