If you're looking at homes for sale, you may be focusing primarily on the interior -- after all, that's where you're going to spend a lot of your time. But yards can tell you a lot about a property, too, and they may end up becoming a deciding factor if you have pets or children. Here are a few of the major things you should always look at when at an open house.
Are There Clear Property Lines?
One issue homeowners frequently run into is a lack of property lines. Over time, neighbors may assume that they own certain parts of land that they really do not, and it can be confusing if there aren't any fenced in areas or if the fence is an irregular style. If there aren't any clear property lines, you may need to request a survey ahead of time. Otherwise, you may not be clear on exactly what you're purchasing.
Will You Need to Repair or Replace a Fence?
You may need to factor in the cost of repairing or replacing a fence into the cost of your home, assuming you want a fence and assuming the property has a less than suitable one. Fences can cost thousands of dollars to install, so if you're deciding between two similar homes, the home that has the best fence is probably going to be a winner.
Are There Any High Maintenance Features?
Some features, such as pools and hot tubs, may seem appealing but are really going to be quite high maintenance. You should always think about whether you really want those features; not only will you pay more for them now, but you're also going to have to pay to maintain them later on.
Will Any of the Trees Cause Issues in the Future?
Trees are often sought after but they can also be a danger. Trees growing too close to a home could cause issues with sewer lines and electrical lines, while trees encroaching from a neighbor's yard could cause roof problems. Make sure you inspect the trees; a healthy tree is usually safe, but a dead or damaged tree is a disaster waiting to happen.
Don't be afraid to take some time to inspect a property at an open house; it may feel invasive, but it's really not. Asking questions and investigating is often the only way to reveal potential problems -- and they don't necessarily have to be deal breakers. If you've found any issues looking at the above, you can turn these issues over to your real estate agent to use while negotiating.