It’s an open house — the first thing you know is that it will be beautiful. Or as beautiful as possible. Don’t let the decoration sell you. Almost everyone stages a home.
As a buyer, the main thing you have to focus on are structural issues. You can ask for a disclosure sheet that lists known issues. You’ll want to turn on faucets, flush toilets, check closets.
Some of the best information can come from other visitors to the open house. Neighbors know a lot about the area and the home. Why did the seller move? If you’re really interested in the house, the neighbors can be your greatest source of real information. If the neighbors are all grouches and don’t want to talk to you, well, that in itself will tell you a lot. Is this a neighborhood you really want?
While you are in the neighborhood, look around. Follow the route you will take to work. The location will be important to your happiness so come as close to ideal as is possible (knowing there will still be compromises).
You should also ask the agent at the open house about upgrades to the property and why the seller moved or is moving. If the listing agent is hosting the open house, feel free to question him or her. You may get different answers, the more people you speak to.