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What to Look for During an Open House

Andy Gagliardo  |  September 18, 2022

What to Look for During an Open House

Are you searching for River Forest real estate? Many buyers look at the room layouts and the brand names on the appliances when walking through an open house. But it’s crucial to know exactly what to look for when purchasing a home, as the mechanical and structural details are just as important. Here is what we recommend watching out for during an open house.

The scent of the home

If you notice the smell of mulling spices or freshly baked cookies, then the seller might be attempting to mask a bad smell in the house. Pay attention to the smells in the home. When there’s a lot going on, like candles, wax warmers, and plug-ins, it might be a sign that the seller is trying to hide something.

Walk around each and every room in the house, including the basement and bedrooms, and breathe in deeply. It helps to smell the exterior of the home as well since it can be difficult to mask smells that are coming from the neighbors. You should also look closely at all of the floors, ceilings, and walls to check for signs of smoke, mildew, pet accidents, or water damage since these can all cause long-lasting bad smells in the home.

The tiling

It also helps to inspect the tiling in both the bathrooms and the kitchen. If you notice that the tiles or the gaps are slightly uneven, this is a sign that the tiling was probably done by the seller, particularly if you already know that the home is being flipped. A lazy tiling job can show that the seller made several fixes to the property, but it can also indicate that they don’t really know what they’re doing and have no remodeling experience. If you buy a home like this, you will probably end up spending a lot of money to redo these fixes.

The foundation

If you are planning on purchasing River Forest real estate, it’s essential to pay attention to the foundation of the home. Most homes have minor hairline cracks in the foundation since homes naturally settle as they age. But if you notice any large gaps, this is a sign that there is a huge problem with the home’s foundation. Other signs include sloping floors, visible cracks above the window frames, and sticking windows or doors. You can tell that the floors are sloping or uneven by bringing a golf ball or marble to the open house in your pocket and setting it on the floor to see if it rolls when you get a chance.

Property maintenance

While you are walking through the house, watch out for any signs that the seller might have failed to do any routine home maintenance. You might notice things like faded paint, leaky faucets, long grass in the yard, or burned-out lightbulbs. These are all signs that the seller might have failed to do any home maintenance tasks, and this can occasionally create some bigger issues down the line.

Homeowners should be regularly changing air filters, inspecting the roof for leaks, cleaning the chimney, flushing the water heater, and caulking around the doors and windows to keep everything in proper working order. If you notice things at a glance during the open house that the seller has not maintained, then the house will probably not pass the home inspection.

The windows

Take a moment to inspect the windows during the open house. Pull back the curtains or drapes to check for lopsided window frames. Open up a few windows to ensure that they can actually slide up and down fairly easily. If the windows get jammed in the window frames, this is a sign of either poor window installation or foundation problems. The only solution for poor window installation is new windows, and this is an expensive fix.

Mold and water damage

When searching for River Forest, IL homes for sale during an open house, look in cabinets and around the drains and water pipes to check for potential signs of mold while walking through. If you notice any small gray or black spots, this is a sign that there are some serious problems with the property. Check for patches on the ceiling and look at the caulking around the tubs and faucets for black spots.

While you’re checking for mold, you can also check for signs of water damage at the property. A musty smell in the house can be a sign of water damage, even if you don’t notice any standing water in the yard or home. Check the ceilings and walls for water lines, since these lines typically indicate flooding from a burst pipe or water leak that led to internal damage in the home. You can also look at any exposed piping in the laundry rooms or basements and check for leaking, water stains, and rust, which are all signs of water damage.

Cosmetic enhancements

Pay attention to any cosmetic enhancements in the home as you’re wandering around. If you notice a single freshly painted wall, keep in mind that the seller might have painted that wall to hide something like a patch of mold. Lift up the area rugs to check the flooring and make sure it isn’t damaged or stained.


Ventilation is also an important thing to check during an open house. Moisture never evaporates if you don’t have enough interior ventilation in a house or room, which can cause it to become a breeding ground for mold. You definitely don’t want mold in your home, particularly if you have allergies. Check for moisture by looking for condensation on the windows or peeling or slightly bubbled paint around the vents, doors, or windows, since this can be a sign of moisture in the ceiling drywall or walls.

Looking for a new River Forest, IL home? Reach out to trusted River Forest real estate agent Andy Gagliardo for guidance.

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