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Eight Important Things to Know at Open Houses

Open houses are almost a thing of the past, since 34% of house-hunters shop on the Web. There are still some people who shop for homes using open houses. Something Web users can’t see when they shop for houses is the condition of the property and the house. That is one advantage open house shoppers have, and there are some questions to which these shoppers need answers. Here are eight important things you need to know.

1. Which Way Does the Wind Blow?

Houses situated east to west usually suffer when winds blow from southwest to northeast. This means that if the windows and doors aren’t sealed tight, your power bill is going to be expensive. If trees planted on the property don’t create a wind-break, you might want to plant trees for that purpose.

2. How is Radon Gas Being Handled?

Radon gas rises from the ground searching for air. It evolves from decaying uranium found in all soil. Find out if the owners have tested for radon and what provisions are in place for dealing with it.

3. Flooding

If the property slopes, ask the owners about drainage. Is the drainage deep enough to miss flooding the basement or lower level of the home? I once lived in a house on sloping property. In the spring rains, the basement flooded. Our cocker spaniel, whom we kept downstairs (he was allergic to the cat, which we kept upstairs), had to sleep on the stairs to avoid getting wet. This is a necessary question to ask.

4. Mold

The inspection will turn up conditions favorable to mold on the roof, the basement and on ceilings from water damage. Mold is deadly to those with lung diseases like asthma. Open houses tend to get spruced up for showing, but telltale signs such as a musty smell can come through most air freshening techniques.

5. Are There Liens on the Property?

Prospective buyers don’t need surprises at closing, such as unpaid homeowner’s association fees, contractor’s liens or tax liens.

6. Will the Home Meet Appraisal Needs?

With the economy in its present condition, there is no guarantee the house will appraise at the value to which you want it. Banks and lending institutions are taking back too many houses that appraised over their market value. Make sure you get a reasonable appraisal before you start signing papers.

7. Has the House Been in Escrow?

If a house is held in escrow, it had a problem with inspection, clear title or the buyer couldn’t secure a loan. If this has occurred and you want to purchase the house, the problem needs to be cleared first.

8. Why Are the Owners Selling?

The kids are getting older and need more room or the kids need to be in the best school district; a home closer to work for both parent or a home nearer the grandparents for elderly care are all understandable reasons for selling a house.

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