When looking for a new home, buyers are often taken in by the fresh paint and the staging, leaving themselves vulnerable to an impulse buy. A lot more goes into choosing the perfect house than the obvious aesthetics. After all, you wouldn’t buy just any homeowners insurance policy without doing a little research and being sure you were properly covered, would you?
Touring a home isn’t like a home inspection, but if the rooms are bright and cheery, the bathrooms are clean and remodeled; you may be drawn into what the realtor or seller is trying to accomplish – to snag a buyer who can qualify for the loan.
If that happens to be you, don’t overlook 7 important things that could make the difference between moving into your dream house – or regretting getting caught up in the heat of the moment. Your first walk through is an opportunity to see if the place is right for you and your family. Is the square footage enough? Is the layout right? Are the appliances new or will they need to be upgraded?
While those are all important factors to consider when house shopping, there are 7 more that require attention to make it the perfect home.
1. The neighborhood
Before you even get out of the car – take a close look at the neighborhood – including the condition of neighboring homes and landscaping. Are there a lot of cars parked on the street, driving by, or abandoned in driveways or on lawns? Is the house in close proximity to shopping or other amenities, such as schools? Check recent crime rates by visiting Homefacts.com or NeighborhoodScout.com. You don’t want to move into a neighborhood that comes with a fear factor.
2. The landscaping and exterior
Generally, sellers will make every effort to give the front yard curb appeal by mowing and watering the lawn, pruning shrubs, planting fresh flowers, and pulling weeds. Look closely for signs of care or neglect. Are the trees healthy and well-maintained? What kind of shape is the fence or block-wall in?
Cracks in the wall means only one thing – it’s eventually going to come down.
Defects in hardscape like concrete walkways or patios should ultimately affect your offer as you’ll more than likely have to fix them yourself at your expense later on.
Don’t overlook the home’s exterior – condition of the paint, siding, eaves and gutters. Needless to say, you won’t be able to check the roof or foundation, but find out as much as possible from the seller since they will eventually have to disclose it or risk a future potential lawsuit.
3. Structural integrity
The majority of realtors who are trying to accommodate sellers with a quick sale at top dollar will hire professional stagers to help show off the home in the best possible light – which may involve painting the walls, decluttering areas, and the repositioning of furniture to hide flaws and make rooms appear larger. But, you’re not there to admire the furniture or its placement.
You’re looking for obvious signs of structural weakness, such as condition of the floors for water damage from a cracked foundation, cracks in walls, or obvious signs of patching, if recently painted. Also, how easily do the all the doors and cupboards open and close?
4. The layout
If you already have furniture, how well will it fit? During the open house, try to imagine your oversized pieces and their placement. Will they be too big, clear doors and windows? You should also get a feel for the rooms and available space for you, your family and your pets. Will the number of bedrooms and bathrooms accommodate all members comfortably? Check the closets and storage areas throughout the house – and the garage. Is the dining room large enough for your wife’s grandmother’s table and six chairs? Better you know it fits perfectly ahead of time than when you’re moving in.
5. Light, noise and privacy
As you do your initial walk-though each room, take note of the light. Are they dark or cheery? Will the rising or setting sunlight stream into the room, leaving a glare on the television screen in the living or family room, or computer screen? In addition, listen for neighborhood noise, such as barking dogs, traffic and railway noise, as well as the disturbing sound of trucks and cars coming from a highway or freeway a few miles away.
6. Major systems
Prior to buying the house and having a home inspector go through it, take a close look at the home’s appliances and major systems like the heating and cooling units, water heater, and garage door opener. Without being too conspicuous, use your smartphone to snap a few pictures of items you might have questions about so you can discuss them later when negotiating an offer.
7. Resale value
If the house across the street or either side of you is in shambles, but you decide to put an offer on the house anyway, just remember – it will affect the resale value.
Not only that – but, you never know what the future holds – from a new job, to a new addition to the family, or even a new hobby like restoring a boat or classic car – and the new home you thought was perfect for you when you bought it may not be right for you later on.
By planning ahead, you’ll have a much better chance to sell the house easily and at a price that you’re comfortable with. Don’t make quirky changes to the house that might put off future buyers. Though it may sound silly, as you’re thinking about moving into the house, you should also be thinking about moving out of it.
Whatever you do – don’t rush into a deal. Be sure to remember these 7 things to never ignore when going through an open house.
The same can be said about homeowners insurance. You never want to rush into picking the right policy for your needs – especially when you can find the best homeowners insurance rates by getting a free homeowners insurance quote today.
Are you a wise home buyer? Do you always give a potential new home an extensive and critical walk-through? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.