When you walk into what turns out to be your dream home, you’re blown away. It might be the color scheme or the vaulted ceilings or the massive fireplace that does it, but you’re going to notice something right away that really wows you. Every room after that will make you more and more excited. You might even be ready to make an offer after only seeing a few rooms. But wait!
You might be so overwhelmed by the big, amazing features of the home that you forget to check out the little details. These details may seem insignificant next to the things you love about the house, but if you find several of them, they can add up to some major issues. Here’s what you’ll want to check for.
Take a look at all of the windows to make certain that the thermal seal isn’t broken, the glass isn’t cracked, and that all of the windows shut securely. However, don’t stop there. You also want to make certain that there’s at least one window in every room that will open in case of an emergency. Some older homes may have windows that were painted shut to help lower the utility bill. It’s also possible some windows haven’t been opened in years.
Many buyers simply take a quick glance around the basement, especially if it’s dark, but you need to go down there with a flashlight and really look around. Check for any signs of dampness, mold and water damage. The last thing you want is to discover that you have dangerous mold growing in your basement after you’ve bought the house.
Likewise, make sure you stick your head up into the attic and get a good look around. If you see daylight coming through in places that it shouldn’t be, the home may have some roofing issues. That’s something the inspection will note. What that report may not mention is the amount of insulation in the attic. If it appears that there’s not a good amount of insulation, the home is going to be difficult to heat and cool, especially if it has high ceilings. Take note that you may have to have additional insulation added later.
Beyond noticing the color of the carpet or the fact that the home has wood flooring throughout, many people don’t really look down. You want to carefully check the flooring in every room to make certain it’s in good condition. For carpeting, look for stains or areas where the carpet seems worn. For tiles, check for cracked tiles and for tiles that don’t seem to be secured to the floor. Any wood flooring should also be secure and shouldn’t appear to be warped. Linoleum and other stick-down flooring shouldn’t show any signs of coming up around the edges. It may be a pain to carefully examine every room’s floor like this, but it can save you money later. You don’t want to buy a house and then discover you need to replace half the flooring.
Not a part of the house exactly, but some potential buyers forget to do a little research into the neighborhood, including the schools. You may not have children at the moment, and you may not even be planning to start a family within the next five years, but life is full of surprises. You should take a look at the school just to see if you would ever want to send a child there. Also look at what’s close to the neighborhood—what’s the closest hospital, mechanic, grocery store, etc. A quick check of the area’s crime statistics is also a good idea.
Then there’s your commute. Don’t just look at the map and decide your commute to work every morning will be fine. You need to actually drive the route during the same time you’ll be going to work and getting home every day. You might find that what looks like a quick ten-minute drive is really about thirty minutes when you take into account rush hour traffic. You may want to try out a few different routes to see if you can make the commute the amount of time you want.
A lot of buyers visit the home during the day or in the early evening, but what’s it like later at night or on the weekends? Is there a neighbor who tends to have large parties? That could ruin many of your quiet weekends at home. Drive through the area at random times of the day to see if the street looks significantly busier. Also, stop the car and roll down your windows. Do you hear any dogs barking or other strange noises?
These are just a few of the little details and other things you might overlook if you’re really wowed by the home. Don’t be discouraged if you find that your dream home isn’t perfect. It may still be a great place to live. You can talk with your real estate agent about any small issues you find to determine how big of an impact they will really be. For those who are in the LGBT community, you may even want to work with a gay or lesbian agent from www.GayRealEstate.com.