When looking at houses for sale it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the details of a home that aren’t necessarily the most important. Details like the paint or carpet colors or the decorations and clutter of the homeowner can be distracting and catch your eye. But, there are much more important aspects of the house you should be making note of to make an informed decision when you decide to buy.
When your agent takes you on a showing, you should make notes on a check list so that when you are trying to make your decision you can go back and compare. Don’t rely solely on memory. There are many checklists on the internet. HUD has a good basic one (https://www.hud.gov/buying/checklist.pdf).
· Make note of the flooring. If it’s wood, is it in good condition or does it need refinishing? Is the carpet in good condition or will that need to be replaced? Are there pets in the house? Pet urine can soak through to the floor boards which may require a little extra work to get the stain/smell out.
· Look up at the ceiling. Are there any stains or water marks? Make note of that and ask your agent to find out what caused those stains and if the problem was remedied.
· Look at the windows. Are they cracked or cloudy? This may indicate broken seals and will need replacing.
· Look for signs of water leaks in bathrooms and kitchen as these may indicate underlying plumbing issues.
· Check around basement walls for signs of wetness, cracks or mold. Some cracks in walls and floors are a normal sign of a house settling but other cracks and mold may indicate bigger issues.
· Make note of the age and maintenance schedule of the furnace and hot water heater. If it’s older or not well maintained you may have to replace it sooner than you expected.
· Walk around the outside of the house and make note of the condition of the roof, gutters and siding (if any). You may need to have extra money available if these are older and in need of repair or replacement.
The floor plan and overall feel of a house are important but structural aspects of a house such as the ones listed above are important things to consider before you invest. Keep in mind that you will be allowed to do an inspection before you buy and major repair issues may be negotiated in your purchase agreement. This is a very hot seller’s market though, so just be aware that there may be many offers on a house and the seller will choose the highest and best one. Asking for too many costly repairs may put your offer out of the running.