When buying a home, you and your family have a lot of decisions to make. Do we want one story or two? How far from work are we willing to live? Fixer-upper or turnkey? Pool or no pool? The list goes on.
Speaking of lists, to make keeping track of all these decisions easier, we’ve made a house hunting checklist to help you remember all the important details to look out for while shopping for the right fit. Following this list will make comparing homes after touring them simpler and will help ensure no important considerations slip through the cracks.
1. Is the building structurally sound?
Big cracks are what you are looking for but you should expect some hairline cracks. Look especially around where extensions join, the end of terrace walls, and bay windows, all of which can start to fall or bow away from the rest of the house. You’re looking for issues now that you can ask the homeowner or estate agent about and then ask your surveyor to investigate later. But you can only look for what you know; a chartered surveyor with years of experience is trained to spot risks and understand what needs attention.
2. Take your time
Make sure you spend a good chunk of time viewing a house for 30 to 45 minutes at least so you can really get a feel for the place. Our research has found that the longer a buyer spends viewing a property, the more likely they are to secure it for under the asking price. More than half of buyers who spent less time viewing the property paid the asking price or more. Buying a house significate commitment and ideally, you don’t want to hand over your savings if you ‘ve only seen it once. But the question is how many times should you view a house before buying?
If you view the house on a quiet weekday morning and the sun is shining it might look different from a busy Saturday morning viewing in the middle of winter.
Try to see the property at different times of the day to get an idea of the neighborhoods.
3. Is the house big enough for you?
Try to picture the house without anything in it, and feel free to move furniture to get a better view of what an estate agent will let you.
Often furniture is used to make a room appear bigger and you need to make sure the items you own will all fit in.
It’s also worth forward planning a little. The house might be perfect for you right now, but what if you plan to get married and have children in the next year will it be the right size for a family of four?
If not, are you able to extend it and how much extra would this cost both in money and timing?
4. Pay attention to fresh paint
A bad paint job or 15 layers of paint is nothing to worry about. But do take note if it looks like the home hasn’t been renovated in a while, and you spot fresh paint or sheetrock in the cellar or basement ceiling. “That likely means that before they put the house on the market, they fixed something. Or, they’re covering something up, If you notice any unusual cover-ups, ask why the work was done.
5.Look at the structure of the building
Make sure you walk around the outside of the house to check the exterior. Look for damp and hairline cracks in the walls, missing or loose tiles on the roof, and broken guttering. If you find signs of a problem, ask questions to find out what the cause is and whether it will be fixed.
If you go on to make an offer and it gets accepted, you should always have an independent house survey done so an expert can conduct more thorough checks.
There are various options when it comes to virtual viewings; they can be pre-recorded or a live tour with the owner or agent. If it is a live session then go slow, ask lots of questions and make sure you ask to see the inside of the cupboards, the fuse board, and the boiler. You will want to take a close look at the window frames and look at the view from the window. It will be tricky to get a sense of the location and the neighborhood, that’s where Google Street View can help. Accessed via Google Maps you can get a sense of the neighborhood and also how it has changed over time.