While "walking through a home" seems like a piece a cake, there are several key things to look for during the showing! Here are 6 must’s while touring your potential future home.
1. Ask questions, then ask more. Knowing some basics about the home will help you make a smart offer down the road. A good way to gain information on the home is to get the seller’s disclosure from your agent. This will give you an idea of whether the home has or lead-based paint, asbestos, wiring that needs to be replaced, and many other insights. Then, since the disclosure won’t tell you about the seller, feel free to ask more question to get to know the seller better! You may feel uncomfortable asking these questions while you are touring a potential home, but your agent will know how to do so tactfully.
2. Remember your must-bring items. We recommend carting along some essential items when touring a home. Some of the most important take-a-longs? The people who will be helping you make the decision. If your significant other is a key component to choosing the home you will buy, wait until they are available to tour with you. Alternatively, if family members’ input is important to you, schedule to tour with them as well. Another important item to bring is a camera. Taking lots of photos of each property, inside and out, will ensure that you will be able to jog your memory about the properties you have toured. Finally, bring a tape measure. It’s critical to know if spaces will accommodate your existing belongings and furniture. You won’t have to measure everything, just take key measurements of areas that look cramped or oddly shaped. Remember, you aren’t selecting the home based on the ability to fit your old furniture, it’s just a good frame of reference to have in case you may need to budget for new furniture.
3. It’s not just about curb appeal. Your first impression is important...but make sure to take into account other things besides just the curb appeal. For example, if you see a double yellow line or speed bumps in front of the house, this may indicate that the home is located on a busy road. This could mean that it is noisy, or it may not be a place you would be comfortable letting children play out front unsupervised. Additionally, take into account the vibe you get when you look around the neighborhood. Make sure you would feel safe being outside anytime of day or night. Finally, make sure the home is in a place that fits your criteria for school districts, walkability, and any other requirements you have previously considered a “must have” for your new neighborhood.
4. The exterior shouldn’t be skipped. Once you are face to face with the front door, pause for a second and look around at the exterior of the home. Look closely at the material the home has been made with. Is the wood siding wavy or discolored? Are the bricks lying crooked as if there is a foundation issue? Is the stucco cracked? These issues could cost you big money in the long run. Finally, check the roof of the home. Replacing a roof is a big purchase. If the roof is nearing its expiration date, consider whether you are prepared to put a new roof on the home after you own it.
5. Don’t be fooled by lipstick on a pig. Carefully check the home’s interior. It’s easy for buyers to focus on the “pretty and clean” of a home, but don’t be fooled by fresh coats of paint — really give the place a thorough look. Make sure the “bones” are suited to your needs. Examine everything from the bedroom layouts to the kitchen layout. You will also want to check that the key components of the home are in good working order. Check the water heater, the furnace, and the air conditioning system to make sure that they are not about to give out soon. While doing this, check for anything that clearly needs renovation or repair. Check bathrooms for mold and rot, walls for cracks or holes, and windows for breaks or open seals. Lastly, don’t forget to look up. Looking at floors and walls are natural for buyers, but the ceiling can tell you whether the home has had water damage, which is important to check into.
6. Don’t overlook a gem because of décor. Plenty of buyers have overlooked a diamond in the rough because of bad wallpaper or dated furniture. In the same way, others have been lured by a particular amenity within a home that needed significant repairs or didn’t satisfy their needs. As hard as it may be, it is imperative for you to see past furniture, wallpaper, wall color, and carpets. All those things will, or could, easily change once you own the home.
7. View the home like you are living in it. Viewing a home as if you are living there takes some imagination. Start with visualizing the home with your furniture and decor. Imagine where your scrapbooking supplies, athletic equipment, or keepsake boxes will be stored. As long as you are there, try out everything in the house. Flush the toilets, turn on lights, check water flow in sinks and showers, imagine yourself cooking in the kitchen, and try to fit your cars in the garage. These little things that buyers tend to skip are some of the most important daily tasks! They are also the things that will irritate you throughout the time you live in the home if they tend to irk you simply while viewing the home.
Touring a home like a pro is time-consuming. The challenge is to make sure you’re seeing each home thoroughly: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Though it seems like a heavy load to bear, the payoff is well worth it!