Make the Most of Your Next Home Tour With This Handy Checklist
As you embark on your home buying journey, touring potential homes is an exciting step towards finding the perfect property for you and your family. When a house is beautifully staged with attractive interior design, it can be easy to forget about details that feel small now but could turn into a bigger problem after moving in.
In a real estate industry that always seems to move quickly, it’s important to know what to look for when touring a house. Enter the house with a checklist of your priorities and don’t make compromises when it comes to that list. When you walk through the potential home, focus on aspects of the house that you can’t change—this means looking past pretty decorations and things that would be inexpensive to change.
As you enter a home for the first walk-through, focus on this checklist to make sure that you get everything you need from your new house.
Is the Neighborhood a Good Fit?
Before you even pull in the driveway, check out the condition of other houses in the neighborhood. Are the nearby lawns mowed and houses well taken care of? Or do homes have chipped paint and overgrown yards? Keep your eye out for regular street lamps, the amount of traffic on nearby roads, and access to public transportation. If the home doesn’t have a driveway, is there accessible street parking nearby as an alternative?
If you have school-aged children, locate nearby schools in the neighborhood. When you search homes with Homes.com, you’ll find ratings for nearby school districts on the home’s listing page. Be sure to also check out the value of other homes in the neighborhood to get an idea of a the right price for the home.
Once you’ve scoped out the neighborhood, take a moment to focus on the home’s exterior. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the age of the roof, siding, windows, and foundation. Make sure the gutters look relatively new, and like they’re functioning well. If the home is south facing, does it require frequent repainting due to sun exposure?
Pay attention to how the yard is landscaped. If it looks high maintenance with lots of flowers that require regular watering, are you ready to invest in a garden and the equipment required to maintain it? Does the home have enough privacy from the rest of the neighborhood?
Before you start looking at houses, think about how much time and money you’ll be able to invest in the outdoor space of your home. Avoid touring homes that you don’t think you’ll have the time to properly take care of.
The Home’s Interior
The interior of the home is where you’ll presumably be spending most of your time, so take a lot of time to scrutinize the conditions of each room. Take note of the condition of the floors, walls, windows, and ceilings. Ask about warped floor boards and water damage, as these may be signs of leaks and mold.
Does the floor plan of the home seem suitable to you and your family’s needs? If you have small children, you’ll probably want all the bedrooms on the same floor. Will you have to carry loads of laundry from the basement all the way to the bedrooms on the third floor? Think about the way you move around and through your home, and make sure this home’s floor plan makes sense for your unique needs.
Are the kitchen and bathroom appliances modern, clean, and well taken care of? Check for mold and mildew in the bathroom in addition to making sure all the fans in the kitchen and bathroom work properly.
Ask about whether the home is energy efficient, how it receives heat and electricity, and what kind of HVAC system is currently in use. If you dream of one day installing solar panels for your home, make sure it gets enough sunlight to make this possible, and that the roof is strong enough to support the addition of panels.
Ask about what the utility bills generally look like each month, and keep your eye out for good insulation as this will save you money on your utility bills all year round. A home inspector will check to make sure the furnace and air conditioner work properly, but you can ask ahead of time to get an idea.
Does the home have a security system that allows you to feel more comfortable in the neighborhood? Check out our article that details new state of the art home security systems to find out what type of security works best for your new home.
Keep your eye out for signs of pests inside and outside of the house. Open up kitchen cabinets and look for mouse droppings. Let your nose be your guide when checking for pest infestation—cockroaches and mice often leave a recognizable scent.
If you notice something suspicious that might indicate that there is a pest problem, be sure to open up a conversation about it with the owner or real estate agent to learn about the history of the problem and ensure that the problem is being taken care of.
Focus on Your Priorities
As you tour homes, keep in mind the elements of a home that are most important to you. Are you looking for a four-bedroom home with a huge yard for the kids to play in? Do you need a short commute to work? Once you know what you’re looking for, it’ll be easier to rule out homes that aren’t a fit for you and your family.