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What Chicago Buyers Should Look for at Open Houses

Jun 21, 2019 | Industry News

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When you’re searching for your dream home in Chicago, you’ll probably visit a lot of open houses. The house-hunting process can often be an emotional one. Buyers sometimes fall in love with a home because of the way they felt when they walked inside. While those feelings are a part of the process, it’s important that buyers don’t let them overshadow other important aspects. When you’re at an open house, there are many things to be on the lookout for in addition to the way the space makes you feel. Here are some of the most important ones prospective buyers should put on their lists:

A Damaged Foundation

Don’t let the curb appeal distract from other things going on outside. When you’re checking out a home, it’s wise to take a look outside at the foundation. While some hairline cracks may be normal indicators of settling, larger cracks can signal a real problem. Foundation issues can become very expensive, so buyers want to be aware of any potential damage.


Mold can be a serious health hazard. If you encounter a moldy smell, even in a basement, it’s worth noting. While it doesn’t necessarily mean there is a mold problem, it can be a good indicator. Another thing to look for is black spots on the walls, especially in damp places. You don’t want to move into a home with a mold problem. It can be bad for your health and expensive to address. Make a mental note of these things, and if you decide to pursue the home further, make sure you get them checked out.

Warped Windows

Perhaps you’ve found an older home with a lot of charm. Chicago has some great properties like this. While they might require a bit of TLC, they don’t need to scare buyers off. The key is to look for issues before you buy. One quick thing buyers can look at during an open house is the windows. Replacing windows can be a large expense, and in the middle of a Chicago winter, you’ll want good windows. Beyond staying warm and making your house energy efficient, windows can also tell you a bit about the structure of the property. If you notice particularly warped windows, this can point to a foundation issue. As with other things, this doesn’t necessarily mean there is a problem, it’s just something to note and investigate further.

Signs of Neglect

Did the previous owners care for the home? Leaky faucets, makeshift repairs, and other signs that regular maintenance may have been neglected are worth noticing. Though owners may have freshened up the home for an open house, if there are signs that they didn’t keep up with maintenance, you’ll want to dig a bit deeper before diving in with an offer.

Storage Space

Storage space is something easily overlooked at open houses. When the current owners have cleared out much of their own storage and have the house in tip-top shape, prospective buyers may not consider their own storage needs. Have an idea of what you’ll need in terms of storage space, and do some investigating when you walk through. Are there enough closets? What size are they? Is there a basement? Is it a good place for storage? This is a good way to evaluate if the house fits your lifestyle.


Open houses are an important opportunity for prospective buyers to get an up-close look at a potential home. While it’s great to take in all the positives, it’s equally important to keep your eyes open for red flags. Are there any other things you look out for at an open house? Share them with us.

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