HGTV makes house hunting glamorous as if you only look at three homes and make a life-altering decision, but really you are going to look at dozens of homes (or more) before you create a shortlist of potential purchases.
You find your favorite houses by spending hours every week scanning hundreds of listings. The photos are great, but the properties you really love, need an in-person visit. How to get the most out of your viewing? If you don’t have a solid system and a consistent checklist, you will find yourself with a bunch information, and it may be hard to compare it all.
Buying a home is an exciting time, but it is also a bit overwhelming. We want to make it just a little easier for you. Instead of trying to remember what you love and hate about each location (because you won’t remember) use this checklist at every new home.
1. Thoroughly research the property online.
You might spend a great deal of time staring at the photos on a listing site, but have you invested a similar amount of time checking crime rates? Do you know what type of cell phone and internet coverage is available in the area?
Open up google maps and use street view to look around the neighborhood before you schedule time for a visit. Most GPS apps like Google maps will show heavy or slow moving traffic. Use the home address and your work or a school as the destination in the morning when you normally drive to work and in the evening when you would head home. Do this a few times a week over a couple of weeks.
Is the traffic awful enough to limit your quality of life because you spend an extra hour on the road every day sitting in stop-and-go traffic?
Look up previous taxes for the property, and know the kilowatts per hour you’d pay for electricity.
The last thing you want to do is fall head over heels in love with a new home only to find out it has the most expensive electric rates in Oklahoma. Your goal is to learn everything you can about this property before you even step through the front door.
2. Start looking before you park the car.
Choosing a home means choosing a neighborhood. How do the other homes compare to your prospective property? Is the curb appeal better, worse or about the same?
You don’t want to buy a beautiful home in a neighborhood with many lower-value homes because you may have difficulties putting it on the market in the future. Then again, you might find a bigger home for a cheaper price in a neighborhood full of smaller homes. It’s all about what matters most to you.
How steep is the driveway? Do you like the exterior? Will it need to be painted anytime soon or does it have a brick facade? How far is the commute to work, to drop the kids off at school or run the get groceries? Is there a sketchy gas station at the end of the road? Does Bob the next door neighbor have a rotten canoe sitting in his front yard and eight weeks of overgrown grass? These are important things you might overlook when you are caught up in the emotion of home ownership.
3. Walk inside ready to take notes.
As you get closer to making a big decision, the size of the living room, kitchen, bedrooms and bathrooms can make a big difference. It will tell you if the future you do have will be sufficient or if you will need more or less.
Use your cell phone to take photos of the different spaces you find most important, and then conduct a video walkthrough to view later. Take a closer look at the interior. It’s easy to overlook problems, so here is everything you need to take the time to observe.
Will they need updating or replacement?
Look for water damage in the corners.
Keep an eye out for cracks, which means there may be a foundation problem.
Are they energy efficient or will they need to be replaced?
Flush the toilet.
Turn on the sink.
Turn on the shower.
Look for any mold.
Are they big enough for your bed and dressers? Do they have enough lighting?
Do they all shut?
Are there cracks around the door frame?
Do the locks work?
Ring the doorbell.
Check storage space.
Look under the sink for water damage.
Ask if the appliances will stay and if so, check to see if each one is working.
Do they creak or show signs of aging or degradation?
Are they too steep or inconvenient?
Are they safe enough if you have children?
Ask about everything including plumbing, insulation, electrical wiring and sewer systems.
Hire a reliable inspector to thoroughly check the home before signing any documents.
4. Don’t forget to check the exterior.
Sure, you will probably spend most your time indoors when you are home, but checking the exterior is just as important before you buy.
Does the door open and close correctly?
Is the door electric or manual?
Is the door insulated?
Can you fit one car or two cars?
Do all the sensors work?
Will the siding need paint or renovations in the near future?
Do you like the current color of the home?
Do you notice any cracks?
PATIO, DECK OR POOL
Are the materials in good condition?
Is the pool running and well-kept?
Will you need to replace anything in the near future?
How old is the roof?
Is it concaving in any place?
Do the shingles have discoloration?
Is there any damage?
Will you need to do extensive work to make it look the way you want outside?
Will the yard be hard to mow because of a slope?
How much time and effort do you want to dedicate to maintaining the yard?
Did the home ever have termite damage?
Are there signs of ants or cockroaches?
Is it an area prone to mosquitoes or fleas?
5. Ask for a disclosure.
Don’t just take their word for it, ask the homeowner for a property disclosure. The information in the disclosure should contain answers to a lot of your questions like the age of the roof or any major renovations.
6. Give it a rating.
Take time to rate each house. It will be hard to rate the first one, but once you have a baseline, you can start deciding if a house is a 4 or 7 (maybe you will even find a 10). First, rate the interior, the exterior, the neighborhood and then an overall score. You will appreciate this step when it is time to start narrowing down your options because you can take extra time watching videos, looking at pictures and comparing dimensions of your highest scores.
Ready to start looking at your favorite properties? Give us a call at (405) 310-2796, and we can start scheduling time for your viewings.