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: What to Look for

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.

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: Open House Essentials

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. Notepad and Pen

Carry a notepad and pen to jot down your impressions, questions, and concerns. This will help you keep track of the unique features and potential drawbacks of each property.

  1. Camera or Smartphone

A camera or smartphone can serve as your visual reference. Take pictures of the property to capture details that may fade from memory over time. These images will be valuable when you're comparing different properties.

  1. Measuring Tape

A measuring tape is a handy tool for determining if your furniture will fit comfortably in the rooms. Measure room dimensions to ensure a seamless transition from your current living space to your new home.

  1. Checklist of Questions

Prepare a list of questions to ask the real estate agent or seller. Ask about the property's history, any past renovations, the condition of the roof and foundation, utility costs, and the reason for selling. These questions will provide deeper insights into the property's background.

  1. Comfortable Shoes

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.

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.

Home Buying

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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