Purchasing a home is an exciting time. Whether it’s your first, fourth or eighth, the research and due diligence put in during the walk-throughs will make your decision easier. But what do you look for? We’ve listed the Top 10 Things to Look For Before Buying a New Home.
Before you walk inside, stand at the end of the property line or in the yard and take a good look at the roof of the house. Does it look new or is it caving in? How many layers of shingles are on it? Is it just dirty or is it, in fact, damaged? Purchasing a home with a newer roof could potentially result in a lower homeowners insurance rate but one that will need repair could end up costing you.
Always take a moment to examine the property grounds, land, driveways, surrounding lots and easements. Buying a house can be exciting but moving in and realizing you actually share a driveway with a neighbor or purchased a home with a large industrial ground behind you could cause a headache down the road. Does the property sit in a floodplain? Are there low spots in the yard that will collect water? Do your research, jump onto Google Earth, take a look at every single thing you can think of. Then decide.
Sniff, sniff and then sniff again. Do this as you get out of the car, as you walk the property, as you enter the home and again as you leave. If you smell anything unpleasant, chances are, that’s not a fluke. Taking a moment to smell the trees and flowers will show you a lot, too. When sewage systems get clogged or damaged, plants and tree roots absorb that waste. If the roses smell like poo, there’s a cause for concern.
Some other odors to be mindful of when walking through the house are smoke, mildew, pet odors and natural gas.
And be cautious of too much scent, too. It’s possible that the more aggressive the scent is, the more likely the seller is trying to mask odors. Perform your sniff-test in each and every room you walk into.
When entering the home, take note of the temperature. Keep in mind: if it looks rickety or old, it probably is. Heating and cooling systems are expensive to fix and replace, and inefficient ones can eat away at your utility bills. Make sure the furnace is up to date and in good repair.
Don’t stop just because you like what you see. The most beautiful kitchens can still present problems. Get down on your hands and knees and take a look under the sinks and behind the toilets. Run the shower and bath, check for leaks, odd smells, stains and mold.
Not only is mold unsightly and foul-smelling, but it can also cause serious health problems. If you live with a baby, an elderly person, or someone with asthma, you’ll want to be especially careful before moving into a property with any mold.
A fresh coat of paint is great but try to ignore that part. Focus on the structural integrity of the house and foundation. Ask what type of foundation it is, if it’s ever been repaired, etc. Keep in mind, most foundations have hairline cracks, this is completely normal and caused by settling. It’s the large gaps that present a bigger issue.
Other indicators would be sticking doors or windows, visible cracks above window frames, and uneven floors. How do you know if the floors are uneven? Roll a marble from one side to the other.
The Tile and Floor
Take a close look at the tile in the house. You can tell if it was a personal DIY project or if they were installed properly. Uneven gaps between the tiles, chipped corners or uneven floor should prompt you to ask questions about any potential repairs that may need done, which can cost you a fair amount in the future.
As you enter rooms with area rugs or large carpets, lift them up and make sure they’re not stained or damaged by pets.
The Ceilings and Walls
Look up. It’s easy to keep eye-level and accept what you see but doing so can cause you to miss a lot more than you want to. Check ceilings for any cracks, dark spots, bowing, water damage and more. This is especially miportant in lower levels under bathrooms, kitchens and laundry. Leaking pipes could take a while to do damage but once it does, you’re in trouble. Take a peek at exposed piping in basements or laundry rooms, and check for rust, water stains, or leaking, too.
Don’t forget to check the paint, too. It’s hard to tell but that one freshly painted wall could just be an accent wall, or it could be hiding something like a patch of mold. As always, sniff, sniff, sniff.
Look for condensation on windows and sliding doors and slightly bubbled or peeling paint around windows, doors, or vents. This can indicate moisture in the walls and ceiling drywall. Without adequate interior ventilation, moisture sticks around, which can create mold and cause allergy and breathing issues.
Always have a certified home inspection performed on any property you are interested in purchasing. Many times, if the results show something faulty, you are able to back out of the process and continue the search. A few hundred dollars on an inspection can save you tens of thousands later on down the road.