Buying a home can be a scary adventure, especially when it’s your first time. It is a huge investment and will become your future home. To make a good decision, you need to be prepared before going out to search. Here are a few tips of what to look for when buying a home to help guide you through this process. Hopeful these ideas will make it a little less scary, prevent you from being tricked, and having an unhappy outcome.
Decide on what you want, need, and can afford:
The first steps in looking for a home, are to decide what you want, need, and can afford. Figuring out what you want and need is a crucial step in this process. You don’t want to go looking at houses and get all gaga-eyed over a house that will not fit your needs and wants. That will taint your evaluation of other potential homes. Along this same line of thinking, knowing what you can afford will make the selection process much easier. Visiting with a banker before you look will give you a rough idea of the kind of housing to look at, the places to look around your town, and how big of a home you should be looking for. Once you have established what you want, need, and can afford you can begin your search.
Does the floor plan of this home meet your needs?:
When viewing a home, take measurements because an empty house looks bigger than it really is. Ask yourself if it will be big enough for your furniture. Check to see if there is adequate storage and outlets. What direction is the house facing? If you’re not sure, take a compass with you. You don’t want a house that’s too warm in the summer and/or too cold in the winter. Do you want a sunny home or do vampires come around often?
Don’t be fooled by staging:
Many home sellers will “stage” the house to make it seem more appealing. You may have seen these tactics before such as baking chocolate chip cookies or some kind of cinnamon scent wafting around the house. People associate these smells with home and comfort. If the house is not furnished, some homeowners will bring in the perfect furnishings to make the house more attractive (think of model homes). Try to stay objective and not be lured in by these tactics.
Look beyond the paint:
It is easy to be swayed by what’s on the walls and floors. Some homeowners have updated the home to make it more attractive. Then there are others who don’t do anything to change the look, not wanting to spend the time and money on a decision that the new homeowners might not like. Either way, it can distract from what’s really important and that is the floor plan and the structure of the house.
Visit the neighborhood:
Once you have found the house that seems to fit your needs, wants, and budget, visit the neighborhood at different times of the day, even in the middle of the night. Neighborhoods have personalities that are different at differing times of the day. When you go, here are some things to check out. Is the house near a dump or factory that emits a nasty smell? Some factories only emit fumes at night. How noisy is the neighborhood? Are you right under a flight path, or near a busy street, bar or school? Does it seem like a quiet neighborhood during the day but at night it becomes more lively? Depending on what you want, all these things can affect the enjoyment of your new home.
Check the roof:
The roof is an expensive thing to have to replace. Find out how old it is. Most roofs, nowadays, are guaranteed for only 15-20 years. Look at it from all angles and notice the condition it’s in. You don’t want to see any holes or sagging. The shingles or tiles should be in good condition, secure, and there shouldn’t be any missing. If the house has a flat roof, make sure it is sealed properly. Flat roofs are prone to leaking.
Now for the plumbing:
When checking the plumbing, make sure to run each tap and note the water pressure. Look to see if the water is clear and doesn’t have a bad smell. Look under the sink for leaks, water damage, and mold. Check to see if the pipes are insulated. Take a good look at the water heater. Some indications that the water heater may need to be replaced are any signs of wear or corrosion on the outside, traces of leaking, noise coming from the unit when in use, warm or cold water when it should be hot, a metallic smell or taste, rusty, muddy or sandy water, or it’s 10-15 years old.
Inspect the furnace:
Get a good look at it. See if there is any “last serviced” stickers on it and note what the date says. Check the last year of power bills to see if there is a sharp increase in cost to heat and cool the house. Listen to the furnace for strange noises and check the burner flame that it is blue and not yellow. If it’s yellow it could be a sign that the furnace is producing carbon monoxide. The biggest indicator that it may need to be replaced is if it doesn’t put out any heat or just a minimal amount when it’s on and if it cools the house when switched to air conditioning.
Have the home inspected:
The seller will already have this done. It’s all part of the process, but it’s a good idea to find your own inspector and have him/her also do an inspection. Remember, the other inspector is working for the seller. Make sure your inspector comes with references and has a good reputation. He/she is trained in what to look for and how to spot trouble.
By being informed before you go looking for your next home, you can go with confidence and without fear of being duped into buying a money pit. With a little background knowledge and preparation, you can get that dream house and make sure it stays your dream house.