Whether you’re ready to buy your very first home or are just looking for a change, there are a few things home buyers should look for, as well as some red flags that could keep you from making the wrong choice.
That old adage in real estate about the importance of location holds true for every prospective home buyer. You may not be able to pick your family, but you can pick your neighbors. Some things to consider:
- Proximity to your work, major interstates, shopping, entertainment, churches and hospitals. If you have a family, you’ll also want to consider a potential home’s access to parks and schools.
- Noise level of the neighborhood. A good thing to do is drive (or walk) through your prospective neighborhood at different times and days. You can get a good feel for how loud or how quiet it is while driving through on a weekend in the evening. The best way to really get to know the neighborhood is by talking to folks already living there if you feel comfortable doing so.
- Safety. Many real estate agents are bound by fair housing laws from being too forthcoming in defining a neighborhood to a potential home buyer, so it’s up to you to do your research. Once again, this is where a drive-through, especially in the evening, will be helpful. Take notice of whether people are out walking and of children playing in yards. There are also various online resources where crime statistics and addresses of sex offenders can be found.
- Take a good look at the outside of the house. Starting at the top, check out the condition of the roof. Home buyers should beware of a sagging roof, since that could be a sign of water damage or an extremely aging roof. You may also want to look for missing or cracked shingles.
- Make sure the home has a good foundation. This could require the experienced eye of a professional inspector because you’ll want to take note of cracks in the foundation, cracks in the walls and damage from pests such as termites and carpenter bees.
- Any evidence of water damage could send house hunters moving onto another property. When looking at the home from a reasonable vantage point, see how the walls lay. They should look flat when viewed from the outside, and inside, the corners of walls should look squared and not bowed. While inside the house, try jumping in the center of the floors. It shouldn’t be flexible, but solid.
- The windows are an important item that home buyers won’t want to overlook before making a purchase. Generally, the newer the better because newer windows are designed in such a way as to help keep heating and cooling costs down.
- You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you need to replace the furnace or the central air. Take into consideration the age of these units, and if it looks like one or both needs to be replaced, that should effect what you’re willing to bid on the home.
Simple Checks Can Save Big
- While looking at your potential new home, take notice of any appliances and fixtures. Turn on sinks and lights and flush the toilets. Look under sinks to look for leaks and mold issues. Make sure to ask questions about the age of the plumbing. Much like the heating and cooling system, having to replace this early on would be an expense you don’t want.
- Don’t forget the basement. Take a walk through to note any previous water damage, mold or mildew.
For a home buyer, preparation before going on the hunt for a home will make the difference between choosing a great fit…or a money pit.