One of the most common questions homebuyers ask me as we're walking around the inside of homes they're considering is "What Should I Be Looking for in the House?" This question arises most commonly among first-time buyers who haven't spent much time previously exploring houses.
Since everyone has different interests, needs, and desires, answering this question can be somewhat difficult.
Nevertheless, here's a handy-dandy guide for prospective homebuyers of things you should be looking for and things not to worry about too much while trekking through OPH.
Oh, sorry, OPH stands for Other People's Homes.
All of the following presumes that you already like the location of the house. Location remains the upmost priority in all home searches. That's one thing you definitely cannot change.
WHAT SHOULD I BE LOOKING FOR IN THE HOUSE?
- Is there enough space for all your stuff? That's an important one. Only you know what you've got. While moving can be a great time to pare down your belongings and finally throw away some of those trinkets cluttering your closet and weighing down your drawers, the first rule of house is that we accumulate stuff to fill it. Make sure to Swing Open the Closet Doors!
- Does the house fit your lifestyle? If you fancy yourself a gourmet chef, you'd better like the kitchen. Enjoy catching a few rays of sun? You're going to want a balcony, deck, patio, or big backyard. Entertain? Flow is important. Trouble with stairs? You might need a 1st floor master bedroom, a rambler, or an elevator.
- Will someone else like it? While this is going to be YOUR home, you always have to consider resale value. You might think you're going to be in this home forever, but statistics say you'll only be there for 5-7 years tops. Think about the future.
- Are there major noticeable problems? When we walk through homes together, we're looking to see if you like it or not. We're not conducting a home inspection -- leave that for the home inspector. However, sometimes you can readily see obvious serious problems with a home. You'll know it when you see it. During an initial look, we don't need to test every appliance and system.
- Do you like it? Do you love it? Do you see yourself living there? This one's a bit more esoteric. Sometimes you just have to ditch the logic and ask yourself these questions. Even the most analytical and discriminating home buyers use their emotions. After all, you're not a Vulcan! 3 years from now you won't remember your housing pros and cons list you painstakingly created but you'll surely be able to tell people why you love your home.
WHAT CAN I IGNORE WHILE LOOKING AT THE HOUSE?
- Paint and carpet. Unless it's a total disaster, don't worry about it. Paint and carpet are typically the first things that go when someone new moves in. They're easy fixes and relatively inexpensive. If you love the house but hate the pink bathroom, a can of paint and a Saturday afternoon can work wonders.
- Kitchen appliances. Okay, don't totally ignore them, because you might have to live with them for a while. As long as they are functional, alright. While not cheap, you can buy a full set of nice stainless steel appliances for ~$3,500. You don't like the green fridge? Nobody else does either, but hey you're a homeowner now and your friends are still renting.
- Electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling, etc. The systems. These are going to be examined thoroughly by the home inspector. That's why you're paying for a home inspection. Unless you see a major problem like missing or exposed wires, disconnected pipes, etc., wait for the home inspection to test the systems. On this trip, we're not going to be in the home long enough to see if the heat pump works. And, unless you're buying the house as-is, you are protected by Mighty Paragraph 7.
- Their furniture and stuff. It can sometimes be very hard to ignore especially in a cluttered house or condo. However, just remember that their stuff does not come with the house. They'll be emptying it all out before you move in your stuff (see above). However, seeing how much stuff they have and how well their furniture fits can serve as a guideline for how well yours will.
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