What To Look For In The Home Buying Process
Buying a house is quite often the biggest purchase you will ever make. More than just a purchase, however, a house is an investment in your future. This means that you must be entirely sure of your choice when it comes time to make a purchasing decision. A good real estate agent can find many of these issues. On the other end, however, agents selling the home may be omitting certain details to help sell the house. A licensed inspector can find many structural, electrical, plumbing and ventilation issues, but this may prove costly just to find out it is not the home you want. Do your own personal inspection and look for these things first to help you narrow down the field before hiring a professional.
1. Check Out The Roof:
One of the first things you can see, before you even step foot in the house is the roof. Does it look new in relation to the rest of the house? Is it sagging in certain parts? Are there shingles missing? The quality of the roof is a huge factor for buying a home. If the roof is not properly maintained, you may have leaks which can lead to more serious issues such as mold or damage to the structure like rotting beams and trusses. Even with a new roof, an inspector can determine if it was installed correctly or if there was previous damage before it was done. A new roof may cost thousands of dollars, and even more if there is underlying damage.
2. Examine The Foundation:
The foundation affects many aspects of your home. A shifted foundation may cause doors to stick or not latch, windows to get stuck or not open, floors to be uneven, and in severe cases make the house unlivable. In such cases the house may need to be demolished and rebuilt, or sold as-is, either of which can prove to be a major monetary lost. If you observe any cracks more than a quarter of an inch wide you should contact an inspector or foundation specialist to provide you their input. In addition, beware of freshly painted foundations, this may be covering a quick patch to hide foundation issues.
3. Quality of Plumbing:
When going through a house, things such as leaking faucets or water stains in the ceilings and walls may stand out. You should be looking more in depth than this though. Open the cabinets beneath the sinks. Look for leaks here, water damage, or mold. any of these may be signs of faulty plumbing. Also check the pipes below the house, whether it be a basement or a crawlspace. Look for leaking or damaged pipes here. Make sure every faucet runs and turns off without excessive dripping. Also make sure all the toilets and showers are working properly. Don’t forget to check the outside faucets as well. It is all too common for people to leave the hoses connected in the winter, leading to freezing and breaking of the pipes.
Where is the house located? Is there a nice river in the back that looks great for fishing or kayaking? What about in the spring when the snow melts? Is that river going to come up and flood your house? How about a house in the mountains? Potential mudslides and rock slides could do some real damage to your home. Also consider if you are in an area prone to wildfires. Most natural disasters are not covered under a standard home owner’s insurance policy. Additional policies to protect from these may include additional costs that you were not expecting.
5. Look At The Upkeep:
Are the flowerbeds clean, weed-free, and maintained? Is the lawn cut and properly trimmed around trees and the house? Have the hedges and bushes been trimmed into a clean and neat form? Are there light bulbs burned out? Do the carpets look clean and stain-free? The way the previous owner(s) have maintained the visuals can give you a good idea of how they took care of the house as a whole. If the outside is not maintained, I wouldn’t expect that the owners kept up of cleaning the furnace, monitoring leaks, or many other little things that can be easily overlooked.
6. Consider The Enhancements:
When you view a house look for freshly painted walls. If the whole house has been repainted, it may have been to make it more appealing. If only portions have been painted then maybe it is to hide water damage, mold, or poorly managed repairs. See a big area rug? Take a look underneath it to make sure there are no stains or damages to the flooring. Also consider if they have lots of candles, wax warmers, air fresheners, etc. These may be to cover a lingering smell of mildew, pets, or smoke. Look behind any pictures or wall hangings for potential damages. They may also be playing music or running fans as white noise to cover up how easily you can hear traffic or the neighbors.
7. Does It Have Everything You Want?:
Consider the kitchen for starters. Do you like to cook or bake? Is there enough counter space for you? Look at the amount of storage between cabinets and pantries as well. Is the layout efficient and easy to navigate? do you have to walk far between the sink and stove? Also look at the yard, see if it is big enough for you or is it fenced for a pet. Consider if there are enough bedrooms and possibly have extras for kids or guests. Bathrooms are important as well. If you have 4 people living there, one bathroom might be a little bit crowded. Do you have a hobby? you made need a separate room for this, or extra storage space. How about cars? A garage may be nice, especially if you like to tinker with things and work on DIY projects.
8. Are The Floors Level?:
This may be obvious in some aspects, but others are well hidden. Try rolling a marble across the floor. This gives you a good idea of any tilts in the floor. These may be caused by shifting foundations, sagging floor joists that may need to be replaced, or water damage warping the floor. Maybe a beam just needs increased support. If major repair is needed, this may prove to be very costly on its own. In addition to this, count in that often with major repairs, especially in older homes, other repairs are found and needed along the way. If a marble doesn’t seem practical to you, bring in a level or laser level when you check out the home. These are pretty much fool-proof in examining floors and also windows, doors, etc.
9. Have The Home Inspected:
Once you are satisfied with the above self-inspection, you can then begin moving forward with the purchase. However, do not lock into a contract though without an inspection clause in it. This allows you to hire an inspector to look over the house for things you may have missed. Inspectors can test for lead paint and do temperature checks for bad insulation and draft spots. Furthermore, they can identify termite and other infestations, and many other things you may not be able to do yourself. With this clause, you can back out of the purchase if the inspector fines fault with the house. You may also be able to renegotiate the price lower if it is something you plan on fixing yourself or is worth fixing to get the home you want.
In conclusion, buying a house is a lengthy process. There is a lot to be considered and it helps to be well informed. Therefore, an inspector should always be used in purchasing a home after you have thoroughly looked it over yourself. This will help you to make a knowledgeable decision and less likely to regret your home purchase.