It’s easy to get emotionally attached to a new home when you think you’ve found ‘the one’. But while it might appear perfect at first glance, the tint of those rose-coloured glasses might cause you to overlook significant problems with a property. When you’re buying real estate, it’s best to take an investment approach and consider the property’s value, keeping in mind the resale value of the house. These tips on what to look for when buying a house will help you determine whether a property is worth pursuing.
These tips are meant to help you determine which properties are worth your time in the early stages of buying a home. But even if a home has passed all of your own tests and you want to move forward, you should still have a professional home inspection done. This will catch anything you didn’t and ensure that you’re able to get what you need from the seller to make repairs thrown into the deal – otherwise, it’s probably in your best interests to walk away.
It’s also important to work with a licensed Realtor® when you’re house hunting. That way, you can ask them any questions about the home while you’re doing the walkthrough. You are paying for their expertise and guidance, and there’s no such thing as asking too many questions. They can help guide you and point out potential issues that your home inspection should focus on.
Take a look at the roof from the outside of the property. Does it look new? Is it straight or sagging? Are there any holes or missing shingles? Inside, are there any water marks on the ceiling which could indicate leaks? Roofs are very costly to repair, so you want to make sure it’s in good shape. Plus, newer roofs will typically require less homeowners insurance.
Examine the foundation of the home, looking for any gaps larger than hairline cracks (1/4 inches or larger may indicate an issue). Other indicators of structural issues are doors or windows that stick, cracks around window frames, and uneven floors. A good trick is to bring a marble with you – if you set it down on the floor and it rolls, the foundation may not be level which is very costly to repair.
Take a look at the electric panel, making sure the wires are neat and clearly labelled. A jumbled mess of wires could indicate that it is not up to code or that the work was performed poorly. Around the home, take note of where all the outlets are and if there are enough. Bring a phone charger with you to test outlets as you go.
4. Odd Smells
Trust your nose! If something doesn’t smell good, it can indicate poor plumbing, water damage, mold, or sewage issues. Also, take note of whether there is an overpowering ‘nice’ smell in the home (such as several plug-in scents, candles, etc.) as this may indicate the homeowner is covering up something more sinister.
Test all of the toilets, sinks, baths, and showers to make sure the water runs and drains properly. Make sure faucets and pipes are not dripping or leaking. Check under all the sinks for moisture or mold, which may indicate a leak. Questions to ask your Realtor are whether the pipes are insulated, what they are made of (lead will need to be replaced), and how old the hot water tank is.
Make sure the home is well-ventilated and sealed. This will save you money on your heating bill, as well as reduce the risk of moisture and mold growing in your home. Red flags include condensation on windows and bubbled or peeling paint, especially around windows and doors. Test all doors and windows to see if they close and seal properly.
7. Poor Maintenance
Sometimes it’s the little details that can tip you off about a much bigger problem. Take note of any burned out lights, overgrown lawns, and faded or chipped paint, as this may indicate the current owner has not taken very good care of the house. If that’s the case, you might wonder what else have they let slide over the years they’ve owned the home. Improper home maintenance may also signal poor workmanship or DIY jobs instead of hiring professionals.
8. Suspicious Staging/New Paint
A freshly painted spot on the wall or an off-center area rug could be ways that the homeowner is hiding a larger problem with the home. Look under rugs to inspect the condition of the floors, and take note of any surface mismatch on walls or ceilings for your home inspector to look into later.
Something important to consider is how your home is situated on the lot and which direction different rooms are facing. Where does the light hit, and does that mean it will be too warm or cold in different seasons? Do the rooms have enough natural light? Is it private (for example, is your bedroom window looking directly into the next door neighbour’s living room?)
Finally, examine the surroundings of the home, such as the landscaping and fencing. Are there any tall trees that may need to be topped off, or does the fence need repair? Are you home to any creeks or areas prone to flooding throughout the year? Don’t just look at the home’s immediate surroundings, either. You may have heard the expression ‘When you buy a house, you also buy the neighbourhood’. Take a look at the other homes on the street and what condition they’re in. What amenities does the neighbourhood have, and how close is it to necessities such as shopping, schools, and recreation areas? Also consider whether the house is placed under any flight paths or close to noise such as highways, train tracks, or heavy traffic areas.