Buying a house is probably the most significant investment you’ll make. This time-consuming process can be scary and stressful, especially if you purchase a home for the first time. With so many checks and balances that you need to go through, it can get a bit hectic and overwhelming.
There are many things to consider, like location, size, price, age of the house, neighborhood safety, mortgage rates, and local market indicators. This article will narrow your search to the top 5 most significant things to look out for when buying a home.
1. Prioritize the Location
When purchasing a house, location should be the first thing on your list of priorities. Finding your dream home in the desired neighborhood or location could be a big challenge. Consider the following points when deciding on the location.
- Community attributes: Explore the area to check out nearby shops, playgrounds, parks, restaurants, and attractions. That will help you pick a location that suits your needs and lifestyle.
- Commute and proximity to downtown: As you get closer to the downtown, home prices tend to rise because of shorter commutes. If you are a person who doesn’t mind driving to work, look for houses outside the city limits.
- Flood zone status: The standard homeowner’s insurance is not enough sometimes. If you live in a high-risk flood zone, buy flood insurance too, which can save you a lot of headaches.
- The quality of schools: Parents and those who plan to have kids are advised to choose a house close to public schools. Even if you do not have school-age children, it is still worth checking the quality of the local education system.
- Neighborhood safety: To ensure that you and your family will feel comfortable, get a feel for the community by reading online reviews of residents, exploring community Facebook groups, and checking local crime rates. It’s worth the hassle.
2. Check the House’s Exterior
Once you’ve inspected the interior spaces, look closely at the foundation and roof. It’s also worth checking the attic and basement to avoid big-money problems later on.
If you notice a hairline crack, this indicates house settling. It often occurs in newly constructed houses due to improperly backfilled soil. A large gap signals a big foundation issue. Check the home for problems like uneven floors, cracks above windows, and windows and doors that stick.
Remember that roof replacement can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000. To avoid this high cost shortly after moving in, inspect the roof for damage and give it a thorough check. Try to find out what the roof is made of and how old it is.
However, just because a house has an older roof doesn’t mean it can’t last many years. You want to ensure it is in good shape and well-maintained anyway.
If you’re a buyer with two or more cars, look for a home with a multiple-car garage. Check whether the garage is separate or attached to the house. Ensure the garage door is in good condition.
Remember that if you want to store a workbench or a lot of stuff in the garage, you will want a bigger one that offers space.
What’s the ideal backyard? It comes down to personal preference. While some first-time buyers prefer houses that provide more privacy by sitting back further from the roads, others seek large lawns with low-maintenance landscaping.
There is a wide range of outdoor features, from decks and patios to hot tubs to pools to streams and swing sets. Think about which ones matter to you.
3. The Condition of Major Systems
Regardless of the property’s overall condition, ensure all the devices and systems work correctly. Hire an inspector to check expensive systems, which could cost a few thousand dollars to replace or repair. If you find any problem, ask the seller to address it immediately.
Check the heating and cooling systems. Some use radiator and boiler systems, while others are equipped with forced-air systems powered by gas or electric furnaces. Many older houses have electric baseboard heaters.
As for the cooling systems, be sure there is central air conditioning. This is particularly important if you relocate to a place that experiences hot temperatures. Alternatively, look for a home with air conditioning units mounted through walls or windows.
Try to find a home that already has heating and cooling systems or an HVAC system. This will save you the hassle of installing different systems after purchase. It can be daunting to switch from ductless systems to ones using air ducts, especially if there is not enough room in the walls for installation.
4. Repair and Renovation Needs
Assess the property condition before you take the plunge. Many fixer-upper houses are in relatively good condition except for outdated bathrooms or kitchens. Even so, you will probably have to put a lot of time and money into improving them.
Before tackling any upgrade or renovation, consult with contractors to get the most affordable solution that works for you. Houses that need minor updates feature cosmetic problems that you can easily change. For example, wild paint colors and ugly carpeting are inexpensive, easy fixes.
You may also want to update an old mechanical system to achieve energy savings. However, steer clear of homes that need significant repairs and costly renovations like a complete kitchen remodel.
However, if you have the time and desire to do these types of repairs— they are usually priced lower than similar houses in the neighborhood.
5. Signs of Water Damage
Is there a musty smell in the home? It can signal water damage, even if there’s no standing water around the house. Discolored rings or water lines on the ceilings and walls may indicate flooding caused by burst pipes or leaks.
Be sure to open cabinets under the sink and in the bathroom to detect any sign of mold around drains or water pipes. You should also check piping in a laundry room or basement for leaking, water stains, and rust. This could be a subtle clue if the basement storage and utility systems are propped up several inches.
Are you interested in buying a house in Sacramento? With so many things to check before making an offer or commitment, your best bet is to work with a real estate agent who will help you identify the critical points.
Work with us! We will provide you with valuable tips to check for when purchasing a house and make sure you don’t end up buying a potential money pit.