During the home buying process it’s easy to become infatuated with the charming bungalow or urban condo. Buyers can fall in love with the personality of a home, or can get distracted by imagining themselves living there. Unfortunately, my job as a Realtor means I have to be Debbie Downer and talk unemotionally while buyers are imagining where to put the holiday decorations. A good number of our clients seem surprised by what we Realtors look at first when viewing a home. As cute as that front porch is, it isn’t as important as a leaking roof.
Here are a few tips of what to look for when looking for a home, think of it as your own personal where’s Waldo game:
- Spots on the ceiling: One of the first things I look for is discoloration on the ceiling. This is an indication that the roof might have issues. I also look for stains on the fascia, the roof line, and the wear on the shingles.
- Rust buckets: I’m always on the lookout for the main components and how old they are. Rusty & outdated A/Cs can mean a world of hurt to your wallet. I’ve been known to hug a beautiful new AC compressor, something I never did before becoming a Realtor.
- Homeowner handy work: As pretty as that new kitchen looks, really examining the details can let you know if a professional did the work or if the homeowner went DIY happy with it. Sometimes it doesn’t matter, but if you cut corners somewhere you have to wonder where else he handy homeowner took the cheap way out.
- Deferred maintenance, or neglect: This is the easiest one for everyone to notice. Note the general state of repair of the home. Repairs made when an issue first crops up can cost pennies in comparison to what ignoring the issue can cost. A small leak now can turn into all sorts of mold unless dealt with promptly.
- Electrical systems: Nope, I can’t see through walls (though I’d pay dearly to have that superhuman talent) but I always look at the number and placement of outlets, whether they are 2 or 3-pronged, and if there is visual evidence of GFCI outlets. Ultimately the home inspector or electrician is going to give you the best assessment, but taking a quick note of electrical improvements is helpful.
- Roller-coaster-y floors: In older homes with built-up foundations you will want to take note of the roll or pitch of the floors. Really rolly floors can indicate the need for some work on the structural underpinnings of the home. Not all structural repairs are expensive, but they can quickly add up.