Open houses are the gold standard in real estate. They’ve been around for decades and will be ingrained in the buying and selling of homes for years to come. Are you making the most of your open house visits?

Here are 9 things to look for during an open house visit.

#1. The sign-in sheet

While you’re signing in, take note of how many other names are on the list. A popular open house could signal a lot of interest – and competition – for the property.

#2.The neighborhood – and the neighbors...

At least for the immediate future, the neighbors typically come with the house. Take a walk around the block and chat with a few neighbors to learn what it’s like to live there.

#3. The cracks in the walls

Most older homes have some cracks in the walls from settling, which may not be signs of a serious problem. If the cracks are horizontal, however, or if they’re more than an eighth of an inch wide, that could indicate a structural problem.

#4. The State of the Kitchen

It’s common for homeowners to refresh their kitchen by updating hardware and installing a backsplash or even a new counter. Consider whether this works for you or if you’d want a complete renovation, and factor that into your offer.

#5. The water pressure

In addition to making for disappointing showers, low water pressure could be a sign of corrosion, pipe buildup or other serious issues. Run the water from all the faucets to get an accurate picture.

#6. Storage space

Having too little storage space is one of the top regrets cited by homebuyers after they’ve moved into a new home. Open the closets during the open house and consider whether there will be room for all your stuff.

#7. Common areas

If you’re moving into an apartment building or a homeowners’ association, you’ll also be paying for access to community areas like a gym or pool. This is your opportunity to check out the facilities.

#8. The layout

Most of today’s buyers are looking for an open floor plan, but if you’re looking at older homes, you’re less likely to find one. Take a look at the current layout and consider whether it would be conducive to your lifestyle, or whether you’d be willing to renovate.

#9. The exterior

Take a walk around to see whether the exterior appears in good condition, or whether there’s damaged siding or loose shingles. If those things are in disrepair, chances are there are other deferred maintenance issues as well.

There are lots of reasons why open houses have been around for decades — and why you should take full advantage of them. Take full advantage of the open house by asking questions to learn all you can about the home and listing.