Buyers Checklist When Looking at a Home
There are several items to look for when seeing a home for the first time. Of course, you have the interest in what it looks like and how the rooms are laid out as well as the kitchen and master bedroom. That’s the fun stuff. But here are some items to be on the watch for to save time and money before treading into the rest of the process.
1. First impression – Curb appeal means a lot because one day you may want to sell the home yourself. Has the lawn and scrubs been taken care of? Does the neighborhood show sign of pride of ownership – exteriors and grounds kept up and not any excessive vehicles’?
2. Roof and Gutter – The roof and gutter areas are critical to what the conditions of the home. Leaks and gutter clutter could cost big dollars later on if they are not fixed by the seller during the contract period. Glance at the ceilings in the rooms covered by the roof like the second floor of a two story home.
3. Entry – Is the entry sheltered from the elements when you open the door and enter the living area? Is there a coat closet nearby? It comes in handy!
4. Kitchen – Are the kitchen appliances in good shape? Are the cabinets looking fresh and drawers rolling easily? Is there enough storage or maybe even a pantry.
5. Heat and Air – Does the house, if it is a two-story home, have a two zone or damper system to help the air distribution and save money on utility bills. A two story home with only one unit is a struggle. If the house has a thermostat on each floor then it is a two-zone or damper system. Check air registers for dirtiness, could be a sign of dirty duct work including breaks in the joints sucking in dirt and old insulation and distributing throughout the house. Is your systems heat pump, electric, or gas? These are a big deal when it comes to saving on the utility bills later on and in cost of repair!
6. House Exterior – Are the house exterior walls looking? Is the vinyl siding unbroken and tight? No waves on the surface. Is the brick showing any signs of cracks? Are they structural or just some settling of the house? If the house has been around a long time, it will probably be around a lot longer but have the house inspected for any sign of serious damage. An old home is an old home but you don’t need to buy some grief. However, there are some deficiencies that are just a result of being old but be cautious of older homes.
7. Floors – Eye the floor in all the rooms. Do any rooms need some replace of carpet or wood? Carpet need to be stretched? Serious stains on the floor that takes away from the showing? Especially check the floor I the bathrooms to see if there is water damage around the toilet or in front of tub. Check for uneven or soft flooring.
8. Crawl space – Look under the home in the crawl space to check for moisture or signs of water intrusion. Crawl spaces can be a huge nightmare that you don’t need. A home inspector and pest inspector will be able to find serious issues but initially look out for what you can see from a showing and let the inspectors do their job for you.
9. Electrical – Does the electrical system look clean? No smoky burn marks at outlets? Fixtures look tight? No aluminum wiring? Any sign of excessive electrical usage?
10. Plumbing – See any signs of leaks? Check under sinks in baths and kitchen. If you can see some of the plumbing in the crawl space and everything is tight.
11. Grounds – Have the grounds been kept up? Is grass hard to grow there? Are the shrubs trimmed and healthy? Any large trees looking a little sick?
12. Water and sewer – Do you have city or county facilities or do you have a well and septic system? Do have the well water tested for minerals and bacteria. You don’t want to buy a home with bad well water or a failed septic system. Spend the money and save yourself from making a mistake.
13. Fireplaces – Does the home have a gas or wood fireplace? They come in handy when the electric goes out and not just for roasting marshmallows.
14. Location factor – Here is a huge one! If you need to commute to work, shop, or to travel frequently, you should be within 5 to 10 minutes of a major thoroughfare. Even if you are a retiree and want to be in the country, live near a major thoroughfare for access to shopping and medical facilities. It comes down to the old adage – location, location, location. Think about it! You may need to sell this house yourself someday. Make it easy on yourself and remember the location factor.
15. Survey – Many lending institutions don’t require surveys these days but they may be beneficial to some buyers if the home isn’t part of a planned and platted subdivision. Having a survey is a big deal if the property is not a part of planned subdivision and has an irregular shape of more than a half an acre or more especially multiple acres.
There a lot of things to cover in buying a home. A home inspector will be able to get to the detail part of what a house is all about when their report generates a snapshot of the house at time of inspection. Practically unheard of 30-40 years ago, they are an important part in buying a home and having leverage from a third party to help in repair negotiations.
The bottom line to all this is to know the home you are buying so you will be happy with your purchase and so will your Realtor.