Buying a new home can be intimidating. There are so many things to consider, from your credit rating, potential mortgage, and down payments to the size of the new home, the local schools, and how far you’ll have to commute to the office or the nearest grocery store.
What features should you be looking for before you sign on the dotted line and buy your next home? Here’s where to start.
Older houses won’t generally have the same clean and polished look as newer models, but that doesn’t mean you should be spending your money on a property that’s falling apart. The roof can be one of the biggest expenses, especially if you find yourself having to replace it soon after you move in.
Consider a professional roof inspection before you buy a home to prevent yourself from spending thousands of dollars on a replacement as soon as you move in.
From the top to the bottom. If a roof replacement can set you back thousands of dollars, a foundation repair or replacement can be even more costly. The signs of a foundation problem are often subtle — things like cracks in interior walls or sloping floors might not be apparent to the naked eye, but they can indicate major problems below the floor.
Just like the roof, consider a foundation inspection before you buy to save yourself a lot of money and hassle in the long run.
Buying a home comes with the added responsibility of maintaining your yard. It’s not always easy, but you can save yourself a lot of trouble by inspecting the yard and seeing what kind of landscape you have to work with.
A yard that mostly weeds are going to take a lot of work — and possibly a lot of money — to turn into something you’d be proud to have showcased outside your home.
It can be hard to imagine the layout of furniture and belongings in your new home before you start unloading the moving truck. A little bit of visualization and a little bit of measurement can help you figure out what’s going where and what will fit in your new space.
This information can also help you decide on a home. If an option looks great, but it doesn’t offer the kind of room layout or space you need, you may want to start looking for other homes.
Most modern homes come equipped with an HVAC system, but there’s no telling how long it’s been since the hardware’s been serviced or even used, especially if the house has been sitting empty for an extended period.
HVAC systems require regular maintenance, and if it’s been unused for a while, a professional inspection is a must before you turn the heat or AC on for the first time.
Basements and Attics
Basements and attics are great for extra storage space or even extra rooms, but they can present some problems as well, especially if they haven’t been maintained in the past.
In both cases, you’ll want to look for things like water damage, mold, or any signs that there’s been damaged in the past. Mold, especially, is dangerous to your health and difficult to get rid of without professional help.
Mortgages and Loans
Qualifying for a loan through your bank is only the first step in getting the necessary financing for your dream home. Make sure you’re looking at the feature of your mortgage or loan program to see where there might be limits to your purchasing power.
The exact details will vary from bank to bank and from loan to loan, so make sure you talk to your loan officer to determine what your options are.
A house that comes with appliances can be a boon, saving you money or providing you with options that you might not have had otherwise. Before you buy, make sure each appliance is functioning properly. If they’re newer and the previous owner isn’t taking them, consider asking if there’s any sort of warranty on them and whether that warranty can be transferred to you as the new owner.
A house with a fridge or a washer/dryer set is great, but only if they work and aren’t going to cost you more money after you’ve moved in.
This is something that’s easy to overlook, but before you move in, it’s essential to make sure there are enough outlets for your needs and that they’re all functioning properly. You can check the outlets with a multimeter on your own, or you can hire an electrician or home inspector to do the work for you.
This is also a good opportunity to figure out which plugs are always on and which ones are attached to switches.
Windows and Doors
Take the time to inspect all the windows and doors in the home. Make sure they open easily, close smoothly, and are easy to secure. If there are problems with any of the doors or windows, make sure you negotiate for their repair before you sign on the dotted line.
It’s not necessarily a deal-breaker, but it’s something you need to address before you consider moving in.
Pipes and Fixtures
Finally, you need to check all the pipes and fixtures to make sure everything works properly. That includes checking taps, flushing toilets, and watching drains to make sure there are no clogging issues. Any problems you find need to be addressed before you buy rather than after.
We’re not talking about cosmetic issues here. You don’t want to cause an argument because you hate how the kitchen or bathroom fixtures look. If something doesn’t work properly, though, don’t be afraid to raise your voice.
All that’s left after you go over these features is to schedule your moving truck and sign on the dotted line.
Buying a home can be an intimidating prospect with so many variables to consider, but if it’s something that’s on your bucket list or your agenda for the coming year, don’t jump in with both feet until you’ve done your research and checked your potential new home for all the features you need.
Not every home is going to meet all of your requirements. Don’t settle for less than perfection when it comes to finding your forever home.
by: Rose Morrison
Rose is the managing editor of Renovated and a real estate industry writer.