Buying a property is one of the biggest investments most of us will ever make, but you’d be surprised at just how many of us forget to check the essentials before making an offer. Unless you want to be saddled with huge regret, a giant mortgage, and a house with zero resale potential, it’s best to go into each viewing with a list of things to check. Here are the top ten things people always forget when viewing a home for sale – make a mental note of these, and your next viewing is likely to be far more productive than it would be otherwise.
1. What’s the garden like?
A garden can add property value, sure, but not all gardens were created equal. Before you get too carried away with the house itself, be sure to check the grounds. Is the driveway cracking or falling into holes? Is the garden overlooked on all sides (not great if you like your privacy)? Has the lawn been properly maintained, or will it take hours of work to bring it up to scratch? If you’re a sun-worshipper, you might also want to check if the garden’s north or south facing.
2. Does the roof need to be replaced?
Regardless of how lovely the house seems, and no matter how low the asking price, a poorly maintained roof is something that should give you serious cause for concern. Check it for any signs of moss, along with any missing or damaged shingles or tiles. If it’s been poorly maintained, you might need to factor in the cost of a new one as you’re calculating the budget. While you’re at it, check the attic for any signs of leaks or structural damage, both of which could indicate a problem.
3. Are there any signs of neglect?
A used coffee cup left on a table or a few plates in the sink is fine, but if you notice a significant amount of mess and clutter, be wary. If the current owner clearly doesn’t give a fig about keeping a clean home, it might indicate a bigger problem. A house that’s been neglected and poorly maintained could end up costing you a ton in the long run. As Homes.com recommends, check any major appliances like water heaters and air conditioning units for signs of rust. You could even ask to see proof of when they were last serviced. Check for any suspicious smells as well – a musty aroma could indicate untreated mold.
4. Are the door frames tilting?
If everything in the house seems to be tilting, don’t automatically assume it’s that lunchtime beer kicking in. Take a good look at the doorframes. If they look a little uneven, use a spirit level to see if your eyes are deceiving you or if they really are tilted. If the spirit level confirms the latter, it could suggest the foundations are sinking.
5. What’s the commute like?
If you’re going to splash out on a new house, you’re probably going to want to spend as much time in it as you can… which you won’t get the opportunity to do if it’s miles away from where you work. Commuting doesn’t just add extra hours onto your workday, it’s boring. It’s tiring. And it means you get to spend way less time doing the things you like and spending time with the people you love than you’d otherwise be able to. Test out the distance by driving it yourself during rush hour. If it takes an age, consider just how long you’ll be able to put up with it before you start looking for a new job, or even a new house.
6. Is there a lot of noise?
Don’t underestimate how much noise levels influence your enjoyment of a new home. As familyhandyman.com notes, a nearby freeway, train track, or all-night bar can have a serious impact on light sleepers. Those who like their peace and quiet during the day are unlikely to appreciate it either. Unless you want to spend the next few years wearing earplugs, be on the lookout for anything that could disrupt the peace.
7. Can you get cell signal?
These days, our cells are our lifeline, a connection not just to our friends and family, but to our work as well. If you’re someone who relies heavily on their phone, check what kind of signal you get inside your prospective new home. If you can’t get one, you might want to consider just how much of an issue this will be in the long term if you decide to move in.
8. Is the bathroom up to scratch?
Most of us think to check how good a bathroom looks, but we can sometimes forget to check just how well it works. To make sure you don’t encounter any problems down the line, do what which.co.uk recommends and test the taps to see if they work. Check how long it takes for the water to heat, along with how strong the water pressure is.
9. Is the neighborhood safe?
Regardless of how great the house is, you’re not going to enjoy it if it’s set bang in the middle of a crime-riddled neighborhood with no schools, no shops, no parks, and no hope. If you’re already familiar with the neighborhood, great. If not, don’t forget to check it out just as much as the house. Try visiting at different times of the day – what seems a quiet, safe environment at midday can be a vastly different proposition come sundown.
10. How are your manners?
Remember, when you go to see a house, you’re not just looking at bricks and mortar. You’re looking at someone’s home. As hookedonhouses.net wisely recommends, be polite, be on time and keep your opinions to yourself. Even if you don’t like how the sellers have decorated the living room, or think their artwork sucks, keep the criticism until you’re back in your own home – no one appreciates having their style questioned, least of all from strangers. Most of all, don’t waste their time – if you’re not serious about buying, don’t pretend otherwise.