Seven Things to Look for When Buying a House
When you are in the process of looking for a home to buy, there are obvious things you look for. Location, square footage, number of bedrooms and baths, size of yard, flow of home, etc. If those don’t work for your needs, you check it off the list. But what happens when the house fits your needs perfectly? You need to go a step further to make sure you aren’t getting glossy eyed. Typically, this is the biggest purchase you will ever make and you want to make sure you do your due diligence. Here are seven things to look for when buying a house that you may not think about initially.
- Is there adequate parking?
It may have a two-car garage but will the size of the garage fit your vehicles. I have stood in many garages while my client pulled their oversized truck in or used the measuring tape to make double sure it would work for them. If it’s only a one-car garage and there is more than one driver in your household, make sure there is somewhere else to put a car other than directly behind the other one. You may think it’s not a big deal but having to get someone out of bed in the pouring rain to move their car will get old very fast – for both parties! If there is only driveway or street parking, again, make sure there is ample room for all vehicles. There is a very popular neighborhood in our area where most of the houses do not have off-street parking. During busy times when visitors are going to restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and yoga studios, they may find that the closest parking spot is in front of your house and you’re left walking several blocks to get home. If you are looking at condos, make sure there is assigned parking or at least enough spots to accommodate owners as well as visitors.
- How many steps are there into the house?
Check every entry door. If the only way in is by way of many steps, consider who is going to live there and how you live. If there are medical restrictions, that may already be something you are looking for. However, also think about groceries. Do you want to have to walk up 10 stairs with your arms full of groceries and/or make several trips on a weekly basis, just to get in your house? Likewise, if you are purchasing a condo, make sure there are elevators or be aware of how many flights of stairs you will be taking regularly.
- Look Up!
It is easy to get caught up in what’s eye level. I have trained myself to look up when I walk into a house. Cracks, water spots, mold, ripples, holes, I’ve seen them all – all from looking up. It sounds simple, and it is, just remember to do it. If you do find something less than appealing but the rest of the house is great, just write it down and ask questions. There could be a reasonable explanation for what you’re seeing or the Seller may be willing to fix the issue.
- Look Down!
Look for inconsistencies in the flooring. Ripples or gaps in flooring should be questioned as well as sloping. If the house is 100 years old, there may be no cause for concern, however, it would be wise to ask the question and/or get it checked out. If the house was built on a crawl space and it is accessible, do yourself a favor and open it up and take a look. I will warn you to be careful when doing so. Creatures like to live in places like that so you just want to be cautious. Look for things like water, smells, rotting wood, fallen insulation, mold, anything that doesn’t look or smell right should be noted and questioned.
- Go outside.
While you were probably aware of the curb appeal when you drove up, that may have been the only time you looked at the exterior until you drove away. If it is a single-family home, walk all the way around it and take in everything. Look at the windows and frames. Check the roof for any visible, missing shingles. Make sure trees are not on the roof or near the gutters. Gutter’s may need to be cleaned out or reattached. Look at downspouts too. One of the prime suspects for water in houses, crawlspaces and on foundations is downspouts and poor drainage. Check to see how many HVAC units there are. Having more than one is great if one breaks down or you only use one most of the time but more than one can be expensive to maintain especially if both go out at or about the same time. Note anything that looks like it may need attention and talk to your Realtor about it. They can address it with the Seller or at least keep a list for the home inspector.
- Are cabinets big enough?
Yes, you probably are checking for storage spaces but will the cabinets actually hold what you want to put in them? Believe it or not, I have been in older homes whose cabinets were not deep enough to hold a standard dinner plate. I have found that one of the best things to carry with you when you are house shopping is a tape measure!
- HOA restrictions?
If there is a home owner’s association, make sure you get a copy of the current HOA documents prior to falling too deeply in love with a property. You will want to check pet restrictions, any rental restrictions, any restrictions on improvements as well as understand what the HOA is responsible for. It would be a bad day to move in to your new place only to get a letter from the HOA a few weeks later letting you know your beloved pet has to go.
Things may look great on the surface but you may find that, unfortunately, someone has put “lipstick on a pig.” However, don’t freak out about everything you find. No house is perfect (no, not even yours) and most issues can be remedied even if they seem overwhelming at first. Don’t let a few questionable items kill your fantasies of that dream home, just note them, ask questions, and proceed with caution.
Michelle Froedge is a residential Realtor and Principal Broker in the Greater Nashville and Williamson County areas of Tennessee. “Mom” to four-legged fur baby, Tyler, Auntie to Zelamie, she is a vegetarian and sings in her spare time. Michelle has lived in Nashville and Franklin since 1997 and has been selling homes since 2004.