Top 10 Things To Look For When Buying A Home: Warning signs, Avoid Money Pits, Location…

In: Guides|Real Estate News

12 Sep 2011

When a buyer is looking for a home, it is really easy to be seduced by granite countertops and new hardwood floors. Most homes are staged to look like they are perfect for a buyer. They aim to get that “wow” reaction because sellers know that first impressions count. However, as a buyer, you need to have the ability to step back and consider the merits of a home with your brain and not your heart. Here are the top 10 things to look for when buying a home.

1. Layout and functionality

Before becoming smitten with that new sink and cute kitchen nook, you need to think rationally about the layout and functionality of the home. The best way to do this is the stand in the home, and imagine a day in your life. Walk through a day in your life. You wake up and take a shower. Where is the shower? Ensuite? Close to the kids rooms? Then you get dressed. Is there a walk in closet? Then you eat breakfast. Is the fridge big enough? is there enough counter space? Is there enough cupboard space? Then you get in to your car. Is there a garage? Is there room for 2 cars side by side in the driveway? Would you need to juggle cars to leave the driveway. Is there traffic on the street? Then imagine returning from work. Where will you watch the news and the hockey game? Where will the kids play while you cook dinner?….You get the picture. Often, if you run through “a day in your life” you will realize that this is the home for you, or perhaps you will realize that perhaps it’s not the home for you.

2. Imminent large repairs

Homes these days are expensive. Can you afford to pay a lot for a home, and then realize that the roof needs repairing, the furnace needs replacing and the AC unit doesn’t work that well? You want to make sure that you are getting what you think you are paying for. Be sure to use the results of the home inspection to make a smart decision. If you think that there are repairs, don’t we afraid to demand that the owner lower the selling price to accommodate the repairs you need to do. No one wants to spend all their money on their dream home and then have to pay $30,000 to repair items that they expected to work.

3. Heating and Air Conditioning

One big mistake, and often regretted, is not considering the heating and cooling of the home. Buyers purchase home all year long. Often they don’t consider AC when they buy in the winter, or they don’t consider insulation when they buy in summer. Be sure to examine the ducts and look at each heating vent. Are there rooms with no vents? How are these rooms heated? Are there fans in all the rooms? Does this mean that the AC does not work well? Make sure to have the home inspector test the heating and AC. Poor heat or poor AC can make your home extremely uncomfortable.

4. Water: Showers, and Drainage

When it comes to home ownership, water can be dangerous, expensive and evil. Leaks are often hidden behind walls. Water stains can be temporarily hidden with a fresh coat of paint. Tiled showers can easily form cracks and years of damage can be built up behind those showers. Carefully examine all places where water is used inside, and outside of the home. There are very few repairs as expensive as water damage.

5. Neighbours

Divorce and neighbours are the 2 most sited reasons for moving. You can pick who you decide to live beside. Make sure you know exactly who lives beside, across, and behind you. Do you want to be stuck with loud parties blasting at all hours? There are plenty of jerks in the world, life is stressful enough without having to deal with one every day. Find out who your neighbours are, what they do for a living and what their hobbies are. Walk the street and ask questions to everyone you see. Don’t be shy. This is your life! You will be spending thousands of dollars on this home. Do you want to move again because you didn’t do your homework?

6. Neighbourhood: Location

This goes hand in hand with knowing your neighbours. However, you also need to know your neighbourhood. Is there a bad area close to the home? Visit the park and look for evidence of drug use, cigarettes and alcohol. Are people littering? These will be hints of the type of people in the neighbourhood. As well, ware there amenities and how is the commute to work from this neighbourhood? These are all good questions to avoid regretting the decision to buy. You can use other tips mentioned in this blog by imagining living in the area.

7. Fresh Paint in the Basement

Most homes do some touch ups, but beware of the basement. Recent basement reins might be hiding something. Perhaps the basement leaks, perhaps there was mould? Who knows. You can find out by asking questions and getting the answers in writing. Any hesitancy to put the answers in writing, should be a red flag. If a basement leaked once, it will leak again.

8. Price and Comparable Sold Homes

So far we have listed 7 things that might lead to regret, but for sure the big one would be price. If you get involved in a bidding war, then you can’t really blame lack of research, and you will end up paying what you do. However, if you are placing an offer on a home and don’t know what ALL other homes have sold for in the neighbourhood, then you are a fool. You should be demanding that your real estate agent be giving you every sold listing within the past 3 years. You want to compare every home. Even if it’s a different style. By examining every sale, you will know the different types of homes in the area and what other people have been willing to pay. Only then will you know the fair market value of your offer. Don’t let your agent off the hook with providing 3 comparable. He is your access to information and you, the buyer, need to make the final decision. Get all the information! How would you feel if you paid $500,000 for a home, when a similar one sold for $400,000 a few weeks before, or a few weeks after, you bought!

9. Electrical

Electrical is not a very large concern for newly built homes. However, for homes older than 40 years, it is a real consideration. You need to know if the home has knob-and-tube wiring. You need to know if the electrical will accommodate your large screen TV, Stereo and Computer. Most homes built 40 years ago did not plan for today’s appliances. Be sure to ask your home inspector.

10. Age of home.

If your about to drop all your money into one building, make sure you know as much about it as possible. The age of the home will tell you a lot. Older homes can come with a host of issues: Leaky basements, older pipes, older insulation…After you find out the age of the home, you will be able to research what issues other homes built in that era had, and you can check to see if these issues have been repaired.

Of course not all home have these problems/issues. Just be ware of the homes that do. Happy home buying!


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  • Jeff Morris

    Great information! I really liked the top 10 point of this post.


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