Attending an open house is your first chance to see how a house for sale shapes up and compares to its online listing. If you don't like what you see, you can let your real estate agent know to keep sending you new listings. If you're interested in the house, however, your next step is to get your agent to schedule a private showing. With the house empty except for you and your agent, you can more thoroughly assess the condition of the house. Remember, sellers often go to considerable effort to disguise issues during open houses, so don't shy away from donning your detective hat and moving these things during the showing.
You have every right, provided that you don't cause damage, to lift any area rugs that you see in the house to check the floor below. Some unscrupulous sellers may put down area rugs to hide scratches in the hardwood flooring or even signs of water damage. The average person won't notice these issues during an open house, but moving aside the rugs during your showing can reveal a lot.
As long as you're careful, you shouldn't shy away from moving any wall art to check behind it. This is more something to do if you're concerned about water damage (perhaps you've seen other signs of it). A cleverly hung photo or painting can disguise discoloration on a wall that indicates the presence of water, but moving wall hangings out of the way can show you what might not be visible during the open house.
You and your real estate agent can also feel free to carefully move around any furniture that you might feel is being used to cover up an issue with the house. This is especially the case if a piece of furniture appears that it doesn't belong where it sits. In this scenario, the seller may have placed it there to cover up a damaged wall or problems with the floor.
A Word About Doing So
While you have the prerogative to move things to more accurately assess the condition of the house you're viewing, you want to be careful in doing so. Remember, the house doesn't belong to you. Seek help from your agent whenever possible, and he or she may also wish to contact the listing agent and explain what you've checked, just to answer any questions the seller may have upon seeing something put back in a slightly different position.
For more information and tips on what to do during a private showing, contact professional real estate services to help you.