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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- The local housing market is showing signs of picking up some some steam. If you're hitting the open houses this weekend, then don't overlook some important areas, particularly if you're shopping. Otherwise, it could cost you a lot of money down the road.

It is easy to getdistracted from what really matters when you walk through those beautiful unfamiliar spaces during open houses. So here's a reminder of items to focus on:

WINDOWS: Do they have to be replaced? Are they going to provide the insulation that we need?

FLOORS: Do they have to be replaced?

HEATING SYSTEM: Is theHVAC in good working order?

WATER: Water could be your worst enemy, particularly in the basement.If itfeels very damp, then you need to find out if there's been water in the basement.

CLOSETS: Consider all of the stuff you own and count closets. Some people really require a lot of storage.

YARD:You need to look at the outside space. Is it level? Dipping toward the house which could create moisture in the house, or water in the house.

INSPECTION: If you fall in love with the home for sale, then make sure before to get a home inspection by a licensed home inspector.

FINANCES: You need to talk to a lender prior to looking so you can be prepared to move quickly.

EXPENSES: Before you sign on the dotted line, a house that needs a little work potentially, you need to keep in mind some of the most expensive repair jobs out there. For example, a roof replacement, according tothe Washington Area Remodeling Magazine, will set you back an average of over $18,000. The same goes for a minor kitchen remodel. If the windows need replacing, then figure at least $200 per window for vinyl plus the cost of installation. New plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning systems can also be huge expenses. it

Buying a house is the biggest investment you will ever make. Use your head, not your heart. Don't buy those fixer uppers unless you can fix them up yourself.

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