8 Things to Look for When Purchasing a Home
Buying a house brings about a multitude of emotions – excitement, stress, confusion, wonder, optimism, curiosity, enthusiasm, and finally, the pride of home ownership. While it can be an intimidating process, knowing what to look for when shopping for a home can help to ease some of your stresses.
1. 1. Identify Must-Haves, Nice-to-Haves, and Dealbreakers – Beyond the town, square footage and bedroom count, identify what you need or must avoid in a home in order for the space to best fit your lifestyle. Countertops and paint can easily be changed, but ample attic storage space, a bonus rec room, and a flat, open yard perfect for a pool are much more costly to change or add later.
2. 2. Take a Good Look at the Roof – While the true condition of the roof can’t be identified until the home inspection, take a look at the roof’s appearance. Does it look relatively new or are the shingles curling? Is it caving in at any point? Is it slate, metal, asphalt shingles, or another material? Different roofing materials have varying life expectancies and cost of replacement.
3. 3. Heating and Cooling – Does the furnace look like it is original to the home in 1950? Does the oil tank have an excessive amount of rust? Is there air conditioning? Do all of the rooms utilize the same heat source, or does the sunroom addition have a separate heating system? Replacing a furnace or air conditioning unit can be very costly so identifying the condition of current systems is very important early on. Also, knowing which fuel (or electric) the system uses can greatly affect future utility bills. Request the past year’s utility bills to get a better idea of costs.
4. 4. Don’t Be Fooled by Appearance – Don’t allow updates, upgrades and fresh paint to distract you from uneven floors, structural sagging, exposed wiring, or foundation issues. Turn on the lights, open the windows and doors, look in the attic, and check out the basement. The mechanicals and structure of your home are just as important as the outward appearance.
5. 5. Plumbing and Water Pressure – When viewing a home turn on the faucet to test the home’s water pressure and hot water. Review the MLS listing to identify if the home has public water service or a private well. There are varying costs, benefits, and potential issues associated with both water types.
6. 6. Get a Lay of the Land – Take a stroll around the property and identify any possible issues or factors that may affect your interest in the property. Is the property prone to flooding? Does the property back up to a main road or business? How close are neighboring properties? Is there a loud highway or main road nearby? How many large trees are there and do they look to be healthy? Is the property private? Is there a shared driveway? The home’s location, property and surroundings can greatly affect your lifestyle and ability to enjoy your new home.
7. 7. Check the Windows and Insulation – A well insulated home can help cut down on heating and cooling costs, helping to keep the home at a comfortable temperature without breaking the bank. Check the attic, water pipes, and heating ducts to identify if the home is adequately insulated. Double paned windows can also help with temperature regulation and noise control.
8. 8. Get a Thorough Home Inspection – While you can visually inspection the home, a home inspector can provide their professional opinion on the home’s mechanicals and structure, and test for potential issues such as radon, pests, lead, septic, or well. It is highly recommended that all homebuyers have a thorough home inspection.
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