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When looking to buy or rent a house for the first time, there are a lot of things to take into consideration. This is because buying a house entails one of the biggest purchases of your life. As such, you should ensure that you select your new house carefully. This can be done by making sure you attend house viewings with a keen eye, looking for what’s present as well as what is missing.
The whole purpose of viewing property is to decide whether the house fits what you’re looking for. Moreover, house viewings are essential to making sure you get a complete view of the house. Given that online listings try to make the property look as appealing as possible, you won’t be able to see problems such as cracks in the wall or low water pressure. As such, viewing a property before purchasing is an essential step before bidding on the house. To help you make the most of your house viewing, we’ll list 15 things to look out for when buying a house for the first time.
Assessing the condition of the house’s roof is important. This is because ensuring that a roof is structurally sound before moving in will save you a lot of money on costly repairs. To assess the roof, you should inquire into when the roof was installed, followed by checking the warranty to see if it backs up these claims. To get a real-life preview of the roof’s condition while you’re viewing the house, you could check the general state of the roofing materials and gutter. Additionally, pay attention to any leaks or dripping noises inside the house. This could be a sign that a house’s roof is slowly deteriorating and no longer waterproof.
As it may be quite difficult to assess the general condition of a roof if you’re not an expert, don’t be afraid to ask additional questions or follow up on the viewing with an expert.
Good ventilation is key to ensuring the quality of air in the house –– especially when it comes to bathrooms and kitchens. If adequate interior ventilation isn’t present, moisture is more likely to stick around. This can lead to mold and possible allergies in the long run. Some telltale signs of poor ventilation to look out for include condensation on windows, as well as bubbled or peeling wall paint next to doors, windows, and vents. All of these point to moisture in the walls.
By checking the condition of the windows –– including their sturdiness and whether they lock –– you can keep repairing costs low. This is an important step to take because, oftentimes, people usually replace damaged windows with low-quality, cheap ones. These may not function properly, hence leading to increased utility bills.
Additionally, if you’re a lover of natural light, you should also check whether the window sizes are to your liking. To check whether you’re getting an adequate amount of natural light, you can make appointments for several viewings at different times of the day. This will reveal what the house’s lighting may look like throughout the day.
You shouldn’t be ashamed to go to bathrooms and kitchens to check the plumbing during a house viewing. To assess water pressure –– and how long it takes the water to heat up –– you should turn on faucets to take a close look at the water functioning. Low water pressure and a slow heating time can be annoying when showering and could be a telltale sign of plumbing problems.
Another way to assess whether the plumbing is up-to-date is to check the floor for sagging or dipping near bathrooms. This indicates that the plumbing structure may need some work in the future –– and plumbing costs add up quickly.
Checking the stability and general condition of your floors is important. This can include ensuring that the grouting is intact and checking for scuff marks and scratches. Moreover, don’t be afraid to look under beds and couches. These could be strategically placed to hide the floor’s defects.
Additionally, given the many possible floor surfaces available, each floor will require a different type of visual assessment. If the house you’re viewing has wooden floors, it’s crucial that there are no signs of wood-eating bugs. Such signs include fresh exit holes in timber, bore dust, and tunnels in the wooden floors. On the other hand, if the house has tiles, look for chips and cracks in them and ask if spare tiles are available. This is important as, if tiles are old, finding suitable replacements may be difficult. As such, you’d have to factor in the cost of retiling (certain areas of) the house.
Conducting checks on the house’s walls is very important, as they can indicate whether certain construction or maintenance issues are present. For example, damp walls and ceilings can be the result of a damaged roof or water leaks. Moreover, bubbles or cracks in wall paint could indicate cracks in the wall that could potentially cause water leaks. Additionally, check if your walls are freshly painted. This could be an attempt to conceal damp areas that may not have been properly fixed beforehand.
Besides using your eyes to scope an apartment, you should use your other senses as well. Using your sense of smell to detect various odors during a house viewing can help reveal whether mold and mildew are present. Not sure what smell to look for? Mold smells similar to wet socks, while mildew creates less of a “musty” scent. Depending on the gravity of the mold or mildew, checking for these things pre-emptively is key to ensuring your health isn’t at stake when moving into a new place.
Moreover, be alert if the house you’re viewing is overly scented. People may strategically use diffusers, candles, and spray to cover up what hasn’t been completely taken care of (e.g., pet and cigarette stenches).
Understanding what you’re working with in terms of room shape and size can be a key determinant of how you’re going to model your home. To help you determine if the house is suited to your needs, walk into every room and think of how you’d arrange key pieces of furniture. To increase the accuracy when doing so, bring a tape measure with you and make sure you have furniture dimensions on your phone. This will help you assess whether some furniture you’d like to include in the house fit into their designated rooms.
Regardless of whether you’re a minimalist who vows to keep their home junk-free, checking a house’s storage possibilities is still important. This is because there are certain things you may want to keep out of sight (e.g., ironing board, vacuum cleaner, suitcases). Without adequate storage spaces, these things become an eyesore and difficult to place. As such, you should look for whether there’s room to add shelves, if there are enough cupboards, and if there is a loft that can double as storage space.
Sometimes, you may find that the house you’re viewing is different than what was advertised online. For example, you may come across an extra bathroom in the house. While at first, you may be excited about the extra space, it’s important to double-check whether this addition is permitted. This is because unpermitted constructions and alterations can be difficult to deal with.
Firstly, there’s the issue that this new addition to the home may not be constructed properly, posing risks. Secondly, if you purchase a home where unpermitted work may have been carried out, you could be the one having to pay hefty city fines. Moreover, you’d have to bear the burden of paying to get the work permitted or reconstruction costs.
If you’re not a fan of having plenty of extension wires all over your new home, check whether the house has enough (high-quality) plug sockets. Besides having enough, you should also check if they’re conveniently placed. Noting this before purchasing a house is essential as rewiring can be expensive and poor electrical sockets can be dangerous.
When house hunting, it’s important to know the cell coverage of your new house. In order to determine how strong the cell signal is, check how many bars/waveforms there on your phone. The more there are, the stronger your phone signal is in the house. Additionally, you could also download an app (e.g., SignalCheck Lite app) that shows you the strengths of your cellular and WiFi signals.
Checking the house’s parking options is similar to checking the room layout (and whether your furniture will fit). As part of the house viewing, you should inquire about the parking possibilities within the area and ask to view them. Whether it’s a garage or an outdoor parking area, viewing these areas will give you insight into how aligned the home is with your needs. Additionally, it will give you an idea of how your car will fit into these parking areas, and whether you’ll be able to easily get your car out of these spots.
To see the full package of the house, make sure to check what is included in the house regarding the garden. The amount of time required to tend to a garden may influence how desirable a property is for you. While some people may be excited to put their green thumb to use and decorate their large garden, you may want something more hassle-free.
While inspecting the house’s surrounding areas, it’s also important to note whether there are a lot of trees outside. Besides posing risks –– such as the risk of them catching fire or the possibility of them falling during a storm –– trees also create additional issues. For example, their leaves could fill your gutter, there’s a higher likelihood of a bug infestation, and there’s the possibility of roots getting into the house’s basement. Given that removing trees can be a costly venture, it’s essential to look out for this from the get-go.
Looking at the location of a house on a map will show you whether the house allows for easy access to places you frequent the most (e.g., school, grocery stores, and work). Look for whether main roads allow you to easily get there, and whether traffic is a problem in the area. Doing this beforehand will save you a lot of trouble when it comes to facing long commutes or difficulty with accessing certain locations.
Moreover, inquire into the general neighborhood of the house. If you’re already in the area, make sure you get an overview of the neighborhood both during daylight and at night time. Given that many places look different at night time, it’s important that you feel safe after the street lights go on. One way to get insight into the neighborhood is to check whether a lot of neighborhood houses have gone up for sale or rent recently. This can help you determine how in-demand houses in the neighborhood are.
Next time you go to a house viewing, it’s important to account for these 15 factors. Assessing these will ensure that you have a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of the house’s current state. As such, you can better decide whether a certain house is the right one for you. Now that you’re equipped with the 15 things to look out for when buying a house for the first time, we wish you a happy house hunting!