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What to Look for When Buying a House

Posted by Kevin Leahy on March 22, 2018

Buying a house is a big undertaking. Your first home, especially, is a major milestone. There is so much that goes into the buying a house process that it can be a little intimidating, but with the right planning you can be all moved into your new home with as little stress as possible.

Check out these tips for what to look for when buying a house:

Get the Financials Out of the Way First

Nothing is worse than finding your dream home, but not being able to afford it. Save yourself some heartache, by getting your finances in order before you attend your first open house. Sit down and figure out exactly how much cash you can put on your home and how much of a mortgage you will need. It is also a smart idea to get pre-approved for your mortgage so you know exactly what you can afford it. Having pre-approval will also move the process a long a lot quicker when you finally do make an offer on a house.

Make a List of the Must-Haves for Your New Home

We all have a picture of what our dream home would like in our mind. Whether it is a condo in the city or a sprawling single home with lots of land. Make list of all the criteria you would like your new home to have and then rate them as “must haves” and “can live without”.

House hunting requires a lot of compromising because it is not always easy to find your dream home in your price bracket. Most of us will need to settle for maybe less space or less bells and whistles like that window seat or wraparound porch. Have a heart to heart with yourself and decide what the nonnegotiables are. For instance, if you have kids, it might be a good school district or maybe it must be in walking distance to school. Or if you have a large family, then you know that while you can live with one bathroom, you must have at least three bedrooms.

Check If the Roof Is In Good Condition

When you starting touring homes there are a lot of things you need to be inspecting carefully. One of them is the roof. Look to the roof to see if it seems to be caving or in need of repair. Find out what was the last time it was repaired and replaced and ask about any leaking issues.

You should check also if there is a rain gutter system to protect the house from water damage. Not all houses have them but they are important to have in most climates. If the house doesn’t have it, you might want to have them installed, which can cost you extra. And if the house does have rain gutters, you should double check they are still in good working order and will not need to be replaced any time soon.

Keep in mind also that a newer roof could also mean a lower homeowner’s insurance rate, which is an added benefit.

Focus on Structure and Not on Décor

A lot of times it can be a turnoff when we walk into a prospective house and it is decorated like it is still the 80’s or when everything is sleek and modern when you prefer a more a traditional look. The thing to remember though is all the décor can easily be changed, but that can’t be said of a bad foundation. It is more important that the structure of the house is safe and that there are no electrical or plumbing issues you need to worry about because that will end up costing a lot more than a new paint job or fresh carpets.

Know What You Are Getting Into With Older Homes

Older homes are attractive in that they are usually more architecturally interesting and have a story to tell unlike with newer cookie cutter models, but they can also have a lot of hidden problems that can get expensive. To truly understand what you are getting into, make sure you check on the conditions of the windows looking for signs of leaks and find out how old they are and do the same for the heating and cooling systems. No one wants to replace these in the first couple of years in homeownership.

Check on the insulation as well. With the house nice and sealed up tight, you won’t have abnormally high utility bills either which is an added bonus.

Check for Water Damage and Mold

Another way to get a heads up on potential problems in a house you are looking at is to keep your eye out for signs of mold and water damage. If you see some ask questions about what happened and what is being done to correct it. Mold is very bad for your health, especially for babies, the elderly and people with asthma so you don’t want to move your family into home with mold in it.

Take a Walk in the Garden

It is not just the inside of your home that you need to worry about. Make sure you investigate on the land around the house whether lawns or garden. Check out the condition of the trees and plants and the patio and other structures out there. Consider how much upkeep you would have if you bought this property.

Don’t Be Afraid to Touch Everything

This is a big decision so go ahead and turn on every faucet and light switch and open all the windows and doors, even use the toilet and ask for a drink of water from the faucet. The more you know about potential problems the better able you can decide if they are deal breakers.

A Home Inspection Is a Must

No matter how much of an eagle eye you have, there is no way you can catch everything so a home inspection is a must. An expert will be better able to do a more thorough inspection especially when t comes the foundation and making sure the wiring is up to code, and checking for lead pain and termites.

Remember also that you are in the driver’s seat when buying a house. If there are too many problems that need fixing, then you don’t have to buy the house. But remember if it is just a small list of repairs, you can negotiate to have some of the taken care of by the owner before you buy the property. Here’s to the happy house hunting!

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