When you’re in the market for a house, virtual tours are terrific time savers. You don’t have to personally visit every home that might meet your needs. It allows you to automatically exclude places when the inside doesn’t live up to the outside. You can also make snarky comments about décor and not worry about who might overhear.
Virtual tours help, but eventually, you’re going to have to show up in person. It’s the only way to get a true feel for a house. Don’t just wander around thinking bad thoughts about the wall color. Investigate the following features to get a sense if the house is right for you. Go ahead and count the closets — but also be on the lookout for red flags that might lead to significant problems.
Before you step foot inside, notice how close the house is to neighbors. If you need personal space, lot size may be a deal breaker. In some areas, if you lean out the window, you can shake hands with the folks next door. What about the backyard? Is there a privacy fence, or will your neighbors always know what you’re cooking on the grill?
How busy is the neighborhood? Are you looking for a quiet cul-de-sac or a bustling block? Details to note include:
Check out the aesthetics of the locale:
While you’re still outside, examine the roof. Replacement is a big expense, so get an idea of how it’s holding up. Are shingles missing, misshapen or broken? Examine the gutters, too, to see if they’re attached all around the house.
Drop your eyes, and examine the condition of the siding, foundation, driveway and walk. Consider the slope of the driveway. You want rainwater to run down the drive, into the sewer grating, not back into your basement. That’s definitely not the indoor pool you’ve longed for.
Do you want a garage? Must it be attached? If you’re not sure, think about it. Right now. We’ll wait. Done? Good. Now you know whether to pay special attention to the garage on a home tour.
What do you personally want from a house? During the walk-through, go head and scrutinize room and closet size, contemplate kitchen accessibility, tally the number of bedrooms and ponder room flow. Take notes. Assess how well a house matches your list. Don’t worry about cosmetics, like odd color choices or bizarre furniture. Once you buy a house, you can make your own strange changes, and then you’ll be perfectly content.
Looking at sleek granite countertops and large walk-in showers is fun, but you have to do more than “ooh” and “ahh” on a home tour. You need to look for problems throughout the main rooms. If you notice an issue, it doesn’t mean you should run away screaming. Or run away quietly. Or at all. You’re gathering information to help you make a decision. Consider:
Attics and basements can hold a multitude of sins. We’re not talking dead bodies. That’s just for movies — hopefully. But a damp basement isn’t a good sign. Do you see a water line? Are there cracks in the walls? Is there a musty odor? Are you interested in using the basement for storage? If so, note what the present owners stash down there.
Check insulation in the attic. The quantity and quality affect utility bills year-round. Roof insulation should be at least one-foot thick. If in the walls are insulated, even better.
Choosing the right house is a matter of cost, characteristics and condition. You need to study the whole package. A home that looks great superficially might be hiding horrors under the surface. On the other hand, a house that needs a little TLC could be the perfect place for you. When you take a home tour, gather a lot of data so you can base your decision on facts, not first impressions. You can fall out of love quickly when an unexpected, expensive repair pops up.