What to look for when buying a home

Buying a home is one of the biggest investments you’ll make, it takes a lot of your time and money.

You don’t want to dive into the home buying process without fully understanding it first.

That’s why it is extremely important to take your time when buying a home.

Buying a home requires patience, financial stability, and a detail-oriented eye.

You will be looking at several houses that offer different financial responsibilities and amenities.

Before you start picturing yourself whipping up pancakes in the kitchen on Saturday morning, you better take a few or several hundred laps around the house.

Imagining yourself in the home is a big selling point, however, there are many other things to think about when choosing the right home for you.

Don’t know what to look for?

No worries!

We’ve compiled the ultimate list of the top things you need to look for when buying a home.

With this guide, there’s no way you can make an offer on the wrong home.

Smells and Stains

When walking through a home, be sure to take note of the smell, good or bad.

If the scent appears to be alluring and relaxing, that can be used as a pro.

However, if the smell is strong, aggressive, or causes a headache, the current homeowners may be trying to hide something.

Be aware of what items they are using to enhance the smell of the home, whether that is candles, air fresheners, or potpourri.

If they have too much going on, it can create suspicion of what the house smells like naturally.

Also, be sure to pay close attention to the walls and ceilings.

These areas don’t lie.

They can show signs of previous damage, such as flooding, cracks, or pet-related accidents.

Stains have the potential to leave a permanent mark if not treated properly.

You do not want to move into a home if the previous owners neglected the property.

If you find a stain in one area, odds are, there is another one not too far away.

Tiling

tiling

Inspect the tiling job done in the kitchen, bathrooms, and anywhere else you see it.

Look closely at the spaces between the tiles and the quality of the overall space.

If the gaps between the tiles are inconsistent or uneven, it can be assumed this was a home project.

Sure, do it yourself projects save people a ton of money, however, it can end up costing you more to fix those mistakes.

Before falling in love with a home, be sure to look at the small details because they can rack up an inconvenient repair bill.

Foundation

Do not freak out if you see a minuscule crack at the base of the home.

This is normal.

Most homes have hairline cracks, which means the home is settling into its roots.

However, if there are large cracks and gaps, this can indicate the home has foundation issues.

This is the part where you can panic a little.

You do not want to move into a home that cannot physically support itself.

Other red flags for foundation issues include the following: sticking doors and windows, cracks above or below window frames, and uneven floors.

Deferred Maintenance

As a homeowner, you cannot ignore the responsibilities a home requires.

Whether it’s cleaning out the gutters, changing the air filters, or fixing other issues, a home needs constant care.

When walking through a home, it can be a little tricky to evaluate if the current homeowner took care of those things.

But there are other things to look at to help you figure out if the home was neglected.

For example, look for burned-out light bulbs, leaky faucets, or faded paint on the walls.

This signals the current homeowners are careless or unaware that their home needed attention.

If they failed to take care of these low-maintenance issues, there might be hidden, larger issues waiting to be uncovered.

Heating and Cooling Systems

heating_and_cooling

If you’re looking at a home in an area that has cold winter nights or hot summer days, a functioning heating and cooling system is a must.

Not only will this crucial amenity make your life easier, but it will also save you the time and money it would take to get one installed.

If a home does not have a central heating or cooling system, it can make summers or winters unbearable.

Finding a home that already has this appliance is something to consider when buying a home.

Also, finding a home with an automatic thermostat will be beneficial as well.

This handy feature allows you to preset temperatures throughout the day.

Why is this helpful?

Well, by programming temperatures, you can save money on your electric bill.

You can set the thermostat to a comfortable degree when you are home, but when you are away at work, depending on the season, you can automatically raise or lower the temperature.

Why pay extra for heating or cooling when you are away for an extended period?

Plumbing

This may be a no-brainer, but it is extremely important to test the plumbing in the house.

You can do this by testing the faucets, showers, and toilets.

Checking underneath and inspecting the pipes can also help decide whether the plumbing is up to date.

Examining the plumbing can also help you better understand the overall condition of the home.

Plumbing maintenance is not always the easiest issue to repair but can create a costly bill.

To avoid an expensive bill right upfront, check the plumbing before buying a home.

Ponds and Creeks

Natural creeks or man-made ponds add a scenic and aesthetic touch, right?

Who wouldn’t like to look outside and see a little family of ducks swimming in a line?

However, not all days are perfect for Mother Nature.

The weather can be very unpredictable nowadays, which makes the possibility of flooding a guessing game.

You do not want to move into a home that is a high flooding risk.

You will need flood insurance to protect your home and items that are in jeopardized areas. The flood insurance bill is usually paid in full at closing, adding more to your closing costs.

Windows

windows

Do not be afraid to be snoopy.

You are in the right to check any quirk or concern you may have.

As for the windows, it may seem weird, but you do not want to pass up on looking through the glass.

When checking the windows, push and pull on them lightly to see if they are stable and functioning properly.

If opening the window requires more than minimal effort, this may indicate foundation issues or poor installation.

The only way to fix this problem is to shell out some money for new windows.

To avoid spending money on the glass that isn’t used for wine, test their ability to open and close.

Mold

Did you know mold exposure can cause several health implications, such as nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing, eye infections, or abnormal skin irritation?

Yeah, not good.

Who would voluntarily put themselves through that?

No one.

That is why when you walk through a home, you need to look for signs of mold.

If you are brave enough, open bathroom and kitchen sink cabinets to check out the pipes and drains.

Look for any unusual spots or marks. If you see small black or grey spots, this can indicate a future and more serious problem.

By closely inspecting the home, you can keep you and your family safe from bacterial infections.

Water Damage

water_damage

Like mentioned before, a strong and pungent smell can be trying to cover up a musty odor, possibly from water damage.

Be sure to check for all signs of water damage by looking at the floors, walls, and ceilings for water lines or marks.

This can indicate previous water-related damages, either from a busted pipe or flooding.

Take it a step further and go into the basement or laundry room and look at the exposed pipes.

Inspecting to see if the pipes are in good condition will give you a better idea of how the current homeowners take care of the home.

Check if the pipes have rusting, molding, or leaking. This will indicate how well the home was maintained.

Consider analyzing these areas before making an offer on a house that could potentially harm your family.

Specific Enhancements

Ever wonder why one room or even one wall is remodeled or enhanced?

Why not the whole room?

This can raise some questions because the current homeowners may be trying to hide something.

Fully inspect these rooms and the remodeled areas to look for any signs of permanent damage.

Do not be afraid to be a snoop and look under the rugs to make sure the floors are all intact and not stained.

This also goes for the walls. You do not want to move into a home and realize there is a giant hole in the wall where the family portrait used to be.

Ventilation

Although ventilation is considered the “behind the scenes” work of a home, it is one of the most important aspects.

Proper ventilation provides clear air and regulates moisture, this helps control the presence of mold and can even help if you have allergies.

To evaluate the ventilation’s quality, look for condensation or slightly bubbled paint around the windows, doors, or vents.

These are potential signs that moisture is in the walls or ceiling.

Make sure you purchase a home with high-quality ventilation so you are breathing healthy and clean air.

Lighting

lighting

Check out the lights in the home.

Is there a good amount of light from both natural and unnatural sources?

You want to see where you are going and who you are talking to.

If there is not enough light, consider the expense to install more light fixtures.

In addition to fluorescent lighting, is there natural lighting?

Letting organic light come through adds a sense of warmth and brings energy into a room.

Natural lighting also gives you a reason to turn off the lights and save some extra cash on your electric bill.

Storage Space

Everyone needs some extra space to store items, such as storage bins, suitcases, or that birthday present for your significant other.

It is important to evaluate this space because random or seasonal items will be left here throughout the year.

Other storage spaces to consider are hallway closets, kitchen cabinets, or miscellaneous drawers.

You do not want to forcefully fit objects into cramped areas or cautiously open drawers with the anticipation of something falling out.

Neighborhood

neighborhood

When you purchase a home, you become apart of a larger community.

After walking through the home, take a walk around the neighborhood to acquaint yourself.

You want to be able to envision yourself fitting in as a local.

Be sure to review the neighborhood online as well.

Research online can be done through community websites, local reviews, and crime statistics, you want to be in a neighborhood where you feel safe and welcome.

Take note of the speed limit, condition of the neighborhood, and proximity to local stores.

The last thing you want to do is get pulled over driving to the nearest Chipotle in your new town.

The ticket issued will hurt your new budget.

Privacy

When peering out the window, can you see directly into the neighbor’s family room or bathroom?

Not that you don’t want to get to know your neighbors, but there is a line to be drawn on when and how.

You do not want snoopy or overbearing neighbors that do not understand the concept of personal space.

Be conscious of how your neighbors could have the potential to burst that bubble.

To be on the safe side, come up with ways to increase your privacy.

For example, consider fencing your yard or adding bushes or hedges on the edge of your property.

This way, you have guaranteed privacy from the outside world.

Home’s Exterior

Take a lap around the house and examine everything from top to bottom.

Look at the roof – do the shingles need to be replaced any time soon?

Look at the exterior paint, stone, or brick – is the paint chipping or the stone or brick deteriorating?

What is the condition of the gutters and sewer system?

Now, look at the landscaping of the home in the front and back yard.

Ask yourself:

Does the grass need major improvements?

Are there any unnecessary branches or shrubs?

Do flowers need to be planted?

Not only do you have to pay attention to the interior of the home, but the exterior is just as important.

Flow

The flow or sequence of a home is important to consider.

The pictures online from the listing you scouted out will not show how spacious or accessible the rooms are.

You will need to evaluate the flow between each room.

Ask yourself:

Are the rooms well-laid-out?

Is the kitchen easy to navigate and are the cabinets conveniently located?

Is the family room big enough to accommodate everyone plus guests?

These are crucial questions to ask yourself, you want to utilize as much space as possible.

You do not want to move into a home where you must dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge, again.

The flow of your home should be seamless and natural.

Layout

layout

The floor plan of a home goes hand in hand with the flow.

However, the layout needs to fit your personal needs and aspirations.

For example, if you work from home, there should be a nice space for you to setup.

Or if you have kids, the home should include a spacious playroom for all their toys and games.

Or if you like to exercise, an area should be dedicated to workout equipment and machines.

A home is a huge investment, so the layout should be able to fill every want and need you to have.

The Bottom Line

the_bottom_line

Although this is a lengthy list, all these features are completely necessary.

Sure, a home inspector may spot out issues and flaws, but you are the one who has to live in the home.

If the home you explored does not surpass your expectations or does not meet minimum home maintenance standards, it’s time to leave.

You do not need to waste time on a home that isn’t for you.

These tips can help shorten your tours, plan your future, and focus on the top things you need to look for when buying a home.

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