Finding a new home can be fun and exciting, especially if it’s your first. It can be easy to get caught up in the process, trying to find a property that fits your list of wants. As you look for your new home, remember to be on the lookout for properties that fulfill your needs, especially when it comes to saving you money in the long run. Below are the items you need to look for when looking at properties.
As the saying goes, you want to find a home with good bones, meaning you want to find a property with good structural integrity. A property’s foundation, exterior, and roof all have a big impact on your wallet if they need to be repaired/replaced (think replacement costs in the thousands).
When looking for your new home, be sure to look at the structure and foundation of the property. Don’t be afraid to ask specific questions regarding the home’s structural components to get vital information:
- How old is the roof? If it’s unclear when the roof was installed, a roof inspection may be in order to understand how soon the property will need a new one.
- Are there cracks in the foundation, exterior, or walls/ceiling? Cracks can be an indication of an issue with a property’s foundation, so be on the lookout for anything that may seem off, including gaps above doors and windows, sunken stairs, and sloping/uneven floors.
- What does the property’s siding look like? If the siding has cracks, gaps, rot, bubbles, or is warping, it’s possible it may be in need of repair or total replacement.
Heating and Cooling Systems
Another item that can be costly to a homeowner is a property’s heating and cooling system. When looking at homes, find out how the property is heated and/or cooled, the age of the system, and if there has been regular maintenance on the system(s). Replacing an old furnace, repairing an AC unit, or even installing a new HVAC system altogether can get into the thousands, and as a new homeowner, the last thing you want is a huge dent to your bank account after closing on your new home.
A home’s plumbing system isn’t readily available to inspect, but you can look for telltale signs of plumbing issues when touring homes. Weak water flow, slow/clogged drains, and rattling and/or discolored pipes are all indicators that there could be problems with the plumbing system. Another indicator is sewer odors coming from the toilets or even from under the house. Get as much information as possible on the state of the water heater, pipes, and toilets. Test the faucets in the home, and make sure to flush the toilets. If you have made an offer, get a sewer scope inspection to ensure there are no issues with the sewer lines. Plumbing issues can also get costly, so ask questions and get inspections before the deal is final.
Water can wreak havoc on a property, especially if it’s getting inside. When you’re looking at possible new homes, be on the lookout for anything that may indicate water damage. Walls or ceilings that bubble, flake, or crack can indicate water damage, and flooring that bulges, is stained/discolored, lifts or shifts due to lifting/protruding nails can also indicate water leaks/damage. When viewing properties, use your nose – musty odors are also an indication of possible moisture issues. Water damage can lead to mold, which brings its own list of issues and costs to fix. If you see any indication of water damage, don’t hesitate to ask the seller for more information.
Noise impacts each person differently, and when it comes to buying a property, you want to ensure your new home has an acceptable level of noise. Properties near major roads, highways, large venues like outdoor fields, shooting ranges, airports, and railroad tracks all likely have an increased level of noise. Other homes, like condos and townhouses, may be next to loud units or areas where people gather, both of which will increase the level of noise. Properties in an urban area, especially in a city, will likely be louder or have more noise pollution than those in the suburbs. As you look at properties, ask about noise and whether it’s significant – if it is, you may be prompted to look elsewhere.
Finding a new home is a process, but a rewarding one once you find the perfect property. While you can get caught up in ensuring the new home checks off all your wants and needs, don’t forget to remember the items that can make or break your bank account. Look at and ask questions about the home’s structure and major systems; look for water and plumbing issues; and make a point to find out the noise level in and around the property. Your real estate agent can help you ask the right questions, and do not hesitate to get one or multiple inspections to ensure you’re not buying a money pit.