Shopping for a new home is a gratifying experience. What can make it even better is to know precisely what you want in your new home, what your budget can handle in terms of a mortgage payment, and choosing the right location for you and your family.
Choosing a real estate agent to help you with your search is also essential. They can direct you to properties that meet your criteria and refer you to open houses that you can tour. Here are some additional top tips for house hunting that will help you as you begin your search.
Tops Tips for House Hunting: The Roof
When you begin your search, you must make sure the home’s more costly parts are in good repair. For example, a roof is very expensive to replace. It can cost from $5,000 to $15,000 or more, depending upon the material used. Be sure to look for things such as loose shingles, holes that can cause a leaking roof, missing shingles, or any other damage.
Make sure you are aware of the age of the roof. But don’t be dissuaded by an older roof. A well-maintained sturdy roof can last for decades, depending on what it is made of.
It is suggested that before the property purchase, the potential new owner gets an inspection done at their cost to verify the soundness of all the components of the home. The roof will be one of the things that will be inspected for strength and quality.
Also, most mortgage companies will require an appraisal by a company of their choice to protect their investment in the property.
Top Tips for House Hunting: The Foundation
Foundation issues can cause problems to the tune of thousands to tens of thousands of dollars. Look for cracks in the walls, particularly around doorways or windows. Sticking doors or windows are another sign that the home has foundation issues. You will need to get a professional to determine the extent of the problem and provide a cost for its repair.
Top Tips for House Hunting: Siding
Check the exterior of the home for any obvious signs of damage or disrepair. Look for peeling paint, cracks, rotting wood, or other signs of wear. If the home has vinyl, steel, or another type of siding, make sure that there are no missing pieces and check to ensure that it is adhering to the home’s exterior properly.
Top Tips for House Hunting: Landscaping
The exterior of the home and the yard surrounding it is a clue to how the home’s interior has been cared for. You will find that a beautifully landscaped yard with lush trees, vibrant flowers and bushes, and green weed-free grass indicates someone who has pride in ownership. You will discover that it carries over into the interior spaces of the home.
Do you have dogs or small children? If so, a yard with fencing is desirable. Look for properties that have as much of your needed amenities as possible. If you need a fence, perhaps begin your search only looking at properties with fencing—work from there. If you find the perfect property without some of the amenities you need, let the budget determine if it is a good purchase for you to make. If you have the funds to have a fence installed after you move in, make the purchase.
Other exterior features of the property, such as a patio, deck, swimming pool, and garden space, might be amenities you would like to have. Again, if they are not part of a property you want, don’t let it deter you if the property does not have these things if the budget dictates.
Top Tips for House Hunting: Bathroom Fixtures
Bathroom remodels, or renovations can be costly. If you are someone who is not a DIYer, then perhaps look for a home that does not need any remodeling in this area. Make sure to check the sink and bathtub for leakage, ensure that the toilet flushes correctly, and always check for adequate storage space in the bathroom. A linen closet, medicine cabinet, or other cabinet space is a most in this room. You never realize how much storage you need in the bathroom until you discover you don’t have enough.
Top Tips for House Hunting: HVAC Systems
This is another expensive area in terms of the replacement cost. A furnace, air conditioner, electric hot water heater, air cleaner, and ventilation systems need to be in good repair to avoid replacement costs. Unless you work with them professionally, you are not an expert in evaluating the condition of the home’s HVAC system. These items don’t necessarily need to be new, as they usually have a long life. But if they have been replaced within the last five to seven years, feel comfortable with your purchase.
Find out what type of heating and cooling system the home uses. There are several types of methods for temperature control, each having its own set of pros and cons. Does the house have a forced-air system that is powered by the furnace? Does it use a furnace powered by electricity or gas or something else entirely? Older homes could have a boiler and radiator system or baseboard heating system that uses electricity.
Central air conditioning systems, which distribute cool air evenly throughout your home, is something you don’t want to be without, especially in hot, humid climates. An alternative is a room air conditioner that is mounted on the window or through the wall. It does not distribute cool air through ducts. It blows cool air directly into the room.
Be sure you find a home that has HVAC mechanicals that you will be happy with. Make sure you are aware of what would be required to have a different system installed and the cost involved. If you are going from a ductless system to a system that uses air ducts, ensure there is enough space in the walls to install it.
If the home’s mechanicals are older and in need of replacement, as with any high-ticket item, it should be reflected in the price of the property to allow for replacement.
Noting the condition of the electrical panel is crucial as well. You don’t want to rely on a generator for your electricity if you lose power or your electrical panel cannot provide what you need.
Top Tips for House Hunting: Basement
Many people today want a rec room or a finished space in the basement of their home. It allows for a family space for game night or to watch the big game, a space where teenage children can entertain their friends, even an area for guest space.
But there are some things you need to look for as a potential buyer. Look for signs of water damage. Are there musty smells in the basement? See if you notice any water stains or mold growth. Consider having a radon test done as part of the home inspection you will eventually have done.
If your family plans to spend a lot of time in your basement rec room, pay close attention to the amount of lighting the room has. Also, it should have at least one accessible egress window or door for escape in the case of an emergency. You will need an egress window in any bedroom that is in the basement.
Top Tips for House Hunting: Garage
First of all, determine what size garage you need. Are you a single person who will need only a single car garage? If you are a couple, you may want a two-car or three-car garage. If you have lots of toys or lawn equipment and the property does not have an equipment shed, you may want a three-car garage to allow for storage.
Also, make sure of the total amount of parking space the lot has. Is there on-street parking available?
Make sure the garage door comes with garage door openers, one for each car in the family. Be sure to post the phone number for a 24-hour garage door repair service inside the garage for future use if needed.
Top Tips for House Hunting: Kitchen
You know what they say – the kitchen is the heart of the home. I think most women would agree with that. But having a beautifully remodeled kitchen isn’t possible for everyone. When looking for a new property, take special note of the following:
• Age and condition of the kitchen cabinets
• Age and condition of all the appliances and if they are the color you want
• Does it come equipped with all the appliances you want, such as a dishwasher
o If it is a very old home, there may not be plumbing installed for a dishwasher, so keep this in mind
• The countertops, are they an old laminate, but you want granite or some other beautiful stone
• The flooring, is it laminate flooring from by-gone days?
Many homeowners that have older homes to sell will first remodel or renovate the kitchen and/or bathroom before listing it for sale. This ensures a better price and a quicker sale, as most home buyers today unless they are DIYers, prefer not taking on a remodel or renovation.
Just remember that if the kitchen is an original in an older home, it should be reflected in the purchase price.
Top Tips for House Hunting: Flooring
Take note of the condition of the flooring in any contender. Does it have carpet throughout, and due to allergies, you need hardwood flooring or tile? Is the flooring worn, whether it is carpet or hardwood? Or is it damaged because of pet accidents or spillage? Perhaps a residential flooring service, cleaning company, or hardwood floor refinishing company could be utilized to bring the floors up to the standard you desire.
Tile distributors could retile the kitchen floor, the entry of the home, or the bathroom. Tile can also be used as a backsplash in the kitchen and used extensively in a bathroom. The use of tile adds beauty and much value to a home.
Bear in mind that every home you eventually look at will have pros and cons. Unless you are one of the fortunate few, you will need to make concessions and decide the most important and what you can live without. No single home is going to provide you with everything amenity you desire.
It is recommended that you and your significant other make a list of everything you would like to have in a new property. The home’s square footage, garage size, property size, how many bedrooms, bathrooms, one-story or two-story, basement or no basement.
Also, take into consideration closet size. While newer homes today are built with master suites and have at least one walk-in closet, some have two. But in an older home, the closet size in all bedrooms can be sorely lacking. A remodel can solve this problem or downsize clothing or personal possessions. Many charitable organizations, such as the Salvation Army or Goodwill, are always ready to take whatever discarded items they can to benefit the unfortunate. So the things you may no longer have space or use for will be used and appreciated.
The home buying process can seem overwhelming, especially if you have never purchased a home before. Do your research, engage a reputable real estate agent, go to open houses in the area you desire to live. Most importantly, take your time in making the decision. The purchase of a home is the most critical decision you will ever make. It has financial implications and will undoubtedly be the biggest purchase you will make in your lifetime. But it also can be the most satisfying and enjoyable experience you will ever have.