Last Updated: September 8, 2023

Open House Checklist for Buyers

Written By: Pearce RealEstate
open house checklist for buyers

If you're actively in the process of buying a home, chances are you'll be attending numerous open houses. While this is a great approach, it's important to think strategically. To help you with that, we've assembled an open house checklist for buyers, highlighting aspects you might have overlooked at first glance.

Open House Checklist for Buyers

Don't let flashy presentations or tempting treats distract you from your goals. It's important to look beyond the superficial appearance of a home to determine if it aligns with your investment goals and personal needs.

Take thorough notes, capturing anything that stands out to you, whether positive or negative. When you're viewing numerous homes, they can start blending, so it's crucial to remember what sets each place apart.

If you work from home or have hobbies that require dedicated space, prioritize areas that can accommodate them. Moving in and realizing there's no room for your desk or crafting table, or insufficient space in the kitchen for all your baking supplies, can be a disappointment.

Ensure that the home you choose not only meets your immediate needs but also has the potential to support your long-term goals.

What to Look For at an Open House

As you step into an open house, it's essential to keep a keen eye and an open mind. Look beyond the superficial allure of staged decor and envision the space as your potential future home. Begin by assessing the property's condition, from its structural integrity to the quality of craftsmanship. Pay attention to the layout and flow of the space, imagining how it would accommodate your lifestyle. Beyond the confines of the house, observe the neighborhood, considering its amenities, safety, and overall ambiance. With each detail you observe, you inch closer to determining whether this house could truly become your next cherished abode.

Below is our helpful open house checklist for buyers. Along with an experienced realtor, this will guide you through your home buying journey. These are items to examine during your visit that you can bring with you and check off the items on the list as you make your way through the home.

  1. Outside Features

  • Evaluate Parking: Check if there is ample parking space, especially if you own multiple vehicles. Observe whether the driveway is in good condition and if there is a garage, take a look inside to assess its condition and size.
  • Inspect the Vegetation: Pay attention to the landscape. Are the plants and trees well-maintained? Overgrown vegetation can sometimes indicate neglect. Also, consider if the garden requires high maintenance that you're willing to take on or pay for.
  • Check the Roof and Gutters: Look for missing shingles or tiles on the roof, and check if the gutters are clean and in good repair. A neglected roof or gutters can lead to serious water damage in the future.
  • Examine Decks and Patios: If the house has a deck or patio, inspect its condition. Are the floorboards sturdy? Is the railing secure? If the deck or patio is made of wood, check for signs of rot or termites.
  • Investigate the Windows: Make sure the windows are in good shape. Check if they open and close properly, and look for any cracks or signs of water leakage. Remember, windows not only let in light but also play a crucial role in insulation, which can affect energy costs.
  1. Structural Integrity

A solid foundation is essential for the longevity of any home. While exploring the property, keep an eye out for any visible cracks in the walls or ceilings. Examine the roof for signs of wear and potential leaks. A structurally sound home ensures you won't have to worry about major repairs down the line.

  1. Layout and Flow

Picture yourself living in the house. Does the layout align with your lifestyle? Consider the flow between rooms—is it intuitive and practical? Whether you're a fan of open spaces or cozy nooks, the layout should reflect your preferences and needs.

  1. Condition of Appliances and Fixtures

Functionality is key to a comfortable living environment.

Check the condition of appliances, plumbing fixtures, and electrical outlets. Do the faucets leak? Are the appliances in good working order? Addressing these aspects now can save you from unexpected maintenance costs later.

  1. Natural Lighting and Ventilation

Ample natural light and proper ventilation can transform a house into a welcoming home. Open window shades to assess the quality of light in various rooms. Consider how well the rooms are lit during different times of the day. Adequate ventilation is also crucial for maintaining a fresh and comfortable atmosphere.

  1. Storage Space

Storage is a practical necessity in any home. Evaluate the closets, cabinets, and storage spaces to ensure they meet your needs. Having sufficient storage room is essential for keeping your living spaces organized and clutter-free.

  1. Energy Efficiency

In today's world, energy efficiency is a vital consideration. Look for energy-efficient features such as double-pane windows, proper insulation, and energy-efficient appliances. Not only do these features contribute to a greener lifestyle, but they can also lead to cost savings on utilities.

  1. Ceilings and Walls

Pay attention to the ceilings and walls. Make sure there are no signs of sagging or mold, which can indicate serious issues with the property.

  1. Neighborhood and Surroundings: Community and Convenience

Remember that you're not just purchasing a house; you're becoming part of a neighborhood. Research the local area, including nearby amenities, schools, public transportation, and safety ratings. If you're wanting to be near a beach, you may want to focus more on an area like New Haven, rather than Wallingford. The surrounding neighborhood plays a significant role in your overall living experience.

What to Bring to an Open House

Now that you know what to look for during an open house, let's discuss what you should bring along to make the most of your visits:

1. Identification

Bringing a form of identification, such as a driver's license or ID card, is crucial for attending an open house. Real estate agents may require it for registration purposes before allowing you to tour the property. Additionally, having identification on hand helps establish your identity and credibility as a potential buyer, making the process smoother and more efficient.

2. Notepad and Pen

A notepad and pen are indispensable tools for jotting down notes and observations during the open house. Whether it's noting down room dimensions, taking note of features you like or dislike, or jotting down questions for the real estate agent, having a notepad and pen ensures you can keep track of important details and impressions. It allows you to compare different properties later and make informed decisions about which homes best suit your needs and preferences.

3. Camera or Smartphone

Bringing a camera or smartphone with a good camera function allows you to capture visual reminders of the property. Take photos or videos of various rooms, architectural features, or potential issues to review later. These visual records can serve as valuable references when deliberating on different properties or consulting with family and friends. However, always ask for permission before taking photos, as some sellers may prefer not to have their property photographed.

4. Tape Measure

A tape measure is a practical tool for measuring rooms and spaces within the property. It allows you to determine whether your furniture will fit comfortably or to plan any necessary renovations. Measuring key dimensions like room sizes, doorways, and ceiling heights provides valuable insight into the spatial layout of the property and helps you visualize how you could personalize the space to meet your needs.

5. Comfortable Shoes

Attending an open house often involves a fair amount of walking and standing, so wearing comfortable shoes is essential. Opt for supportive footwear that can withstand prolonged periods of walking without causing discomfort or fatigue. By prioritizing comfort, you'll be able to focus more on assessing the property and less on any discomfort or distractions from sore feet.

6. Questions List

Prepare a list of questions to ask the real estate agent or seller during the open house. These questions can cover various aspects of the property, neighborhood, or any concerns you may have. By having a list prepared in advance, you ensure you don't forget to inquire about important details and can make the most of your time at the open house. Additionally, asking thoughtful questions demonstrates your genuine interest in the property and can provide valuable insights into its suitability for your needs and lifestyle.

Open house tours often involve a fair amount of walking as you explore the property. Wear comfortable shoes that allow you to move around easily without discomfort. Comfortable footwear ensures you can concentrate on evaluating the property without distractions.

What to Wear to an Open House as a Buyer

Make sure to choose your attire thoughtfully when attending an open house, regardless of the property. Opt for comfortable yet appropriate clothing. Your goal is to create a positive impression without being overly formal.

To attend an open house as a buyer, keep these three key points in mind regarding what to wear:

  1. Opt for business casual or smart-casual attire: Choose clean, well-maintained clothing, such as slacks or dark jeans paired with a button-down shirt for men, and slacks or dark jeans with a blouse for women.
  2. Wear comfortable shoes: Select comfortable, clean shoes suitable for walking and standing, avoiding overly casual or athletic footwear.
  3. Seasonal and weather-appropriate clothing: Dress according to the season and weather, layering for colder months and choosing lighter fabrics for warmer weather.

A Few Extra Tips

It's a good idea to leave pets and children back at home. When you arrive, be sure to sign in, even if you're already working with a real estate agent—this lets the seller's agent know you're there.


As you begin your home-buying journey, remember that an open house is not just a tour—it's an opportunity to gather information, envision your future, and make one of the most significant decisions of your life.

Armed with our open house checklist for buyers, and an experienced realtor, you're well-prepared to evaluate properties, ask the right questions, and make informed choices that align with your preferences and needs.

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Pearce Real Estate is a full-service real estate company for Greater New Haven and Middlesex counties.  Check out the many real estate buying services that we provide, both in-house, as well as through our partners and affiliates.

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