When shopping for a home, your real estate agent can suggest some things you’ll want to keep your eye out for in the maintenance of the house. It’s a good idea to look at things objectively, and to be able to properly document any potential issues before you buy or put in an offer. We’ve compiled a detailed list of some important areas to look at when browsing through a home.
Before you actually buy the house you’ll be relying on a professional home inspection but you’ll be personally aware of any issues, so you can cross check that they’ve been dealt with.
Pro Tip: Don’t get distracted by fancy granite countertops and sprawling hardwood floors. There are many other things that buyers should instead be looking at when viewing a home they may purchase.
If you find any issues that are listed below, note that none of these things are deal breakers. In general, any defects you find don’t necessarily mean you should avoid purchasing the house.
Creating a checklist will help you compile useful indicators of what maintenance issues you may encounter, and help you organize a budget in case you do end up buying the home.
PLACES IN A HOUSE TO LOOK FOR ISSUES
The following are important areas of a home to examine for potential problems while you’re at a showing.
THE OUTSIDE OF THE HOME
Before you even step through the front door of the house, take a stroll around the exterior of the home. If you keep your eyes open, you may be surprised at some of the issues you may find.
- Look noticeable cracks or defects around the foundation of the home.
- Look for puddles of water pooling anywhere close to the home.
- Check that the eavestrough downspouts direct water away from the home.
- Check for any curling or missing shingles on the roof.
- Have your agent find out when the roof was last replaced.
- Have your agent find out if the pool was installed by professionals with proper permits.
- Ask if they have the pool professionally opened and closed each year.
- Check if the deck and fence are in good repair (missing, cracked or wobbly boards).
- Inquire as to whether there are any easements on the property.
- Find out the age of the windows and doors.
- Find the sunnier side of the home to determine if that much sun will work for you.
THE INSIDE OF THE HOME
You’ll be excited to see all the views from inside the home but don’t forget to check these items:
- Take note of any strange scents you notice upon entering the house and identify where it’s coming from.
- Check the ceilings for water marks, bubbled paint, staining or leaks.
- Examine the condition of the floors (look for slopes or if they bounce when you walk on them).
- In older homes, lift up one of the floor registers and see if you can find any original hardwood hiding under the carpets.
- Check the walls for any cracks, holes, or defects that look more than cosmetic.
One of the most used rooms in the house is the bathroom, so take a moment to check these items:
- Check that the ceiling vent fans are installed and working.
- Flush the toilet and check its flushing power.
- Listen whether the toilet continues to run after it’s been refilled.
- Test the water pressure of the shower stall.
- Check if there is any mildew, black mould or cracked tiles around the tub.
- Check for leaks under the bathroom sink.
- For septic systems, ask your agent find out the last time it was pumped.
Everyone loves a pretty kitchen with nice finishes, but they still need to be examined. Here are some things to look for in the kitchen:
- Check for a water line leading to the fridge (e.g. ice maker).
- Find out of the stovetop is electric or gas. Some stoves have both capabilities.
- Check that the cupboards are in good repair, and look for things like crooked doors, missing knobs, dirt, grit or damage.
- Check that the kitchen faucet has good water pressure.
- Note any leaks around the faucet or under the cupboard.
The basement is a great indicator of the condition of a house. Take a look at these important items in the basement:
- Take note of any dampness or strange scents.
- Check to see the use of de-humidifiers or excess of water.
- Check for signs of water pooling on the concrete.
- Look for puddle stains from dried up puddles.
- Check whether the ceiling joists are visible (unfinished basement) and look for any cut or damaged wood in the ceiling.
- Examine the furnace filter for excess dirt and dust.
- Check to see if there’s a water heater tank, or a tankless water heater.
- Ask your agent if the water heater is owned or a rental.
- Look for a water softener and ask agent if it is owned or a rented.
- Examine the electrical panel for spaces left for more circuit breakers/fuses.
- Note whether the electrical panel is full.
- Look for signs of mouse droppings or other critters.
IT’S EXCITING SHOPPING FOR YOUR NEXT HOME!
Looking at all the finishes and the size of the space is exciting and thrilling, but remember to look past the cosmetics and take note of the quality too.
While you may find a few concerning issues, remember that no home is perfect. If you’re really interested in the home and want to put in an offer, hire a licensed home inspector to look things over. By doing so you’ll have a better idea of what you can expect once you move in.
For more information about using an inspector, check out our recent article titled Important Things To Know Before Hiring A Home Inspector.
If you have questions about home inspections, simply ask your Realtor. They are an excellent resource for answers, and suggestions on what to look for while you’re doing your home walkthrough.