House hunting is an exciting experience, especially for first-time homebuyers. But before you even consider putting down an offer on a home purchase, make sure it’s right for your family’s lifestyle by having an open yard or complete privacy and is in decent shape with more updated finishes and without major structural issues. Also, if you are in the market for a used home, it may feel awkward entering and poke around someone else’s residence. But the truth is that you can tell a lot about a home when you look a bit closer.
When house hunting, it pays to do your homework, stick to a budget, and have an idea of your needs and desires by Mojo urban living. Looking to buy a home? Here are 10 things to keep in mind.
1. Finishes and Materials
Does the home have a certain level of charm, inside and out? When house hunting, take notice of the moldings, hardware, and all the finishes and materials. If you have specific elements in mind, it will steer you toward the perfect home. For instance, you may pay attention to the types of flooring throughout the house and want to aim for waterproof flooring in bathrooms and kitchens.
2. Location, Location, Location
When house hunting, the most important thing to consider is the location. You can renovate and change many features of a home, but your neighborhood is not one of them. Consider the home’s proximity to your work and if it’s situated in an up and coming neighborhood with a good school system, public transportation, a walkable town or whatever else is important to you about a location.
When it comes to the home’s location, examine the site it sits on as well. Is there an elevation with nice surrounding views? Do windows overlook your neighbor’s home? If you have kids or pets or plan on putting in a garden, is there enough space? These are all things to consider when house hunting.
3. The Neighborhood
When house hunting, take a look around the neighborhood. Drive-by on the weekdays and weekends to get a feel for the community and the neighbors. Are surrounding homes kept tidy or is there junk in front yards? Would you feel safe walking or letting kids play in the yard?
When it comes to learning the neighborhood, meet the neighbors, too! Don’t be afraid to ring a doorbell or two and have a friendly chat about the area, local school systems, and other valuable insider info. Often, a neighbor’s demeanor can also say a lot about the general attitude toward the area. Are they happy to chat or standoffish?
4. The Right Curb Appeal
Curb appeal might be the first feature you notice about a home. The important thing is to make sure it reflects your own lifestyle and tastes. If you love a minimal aesthetic, a home with modern curb appeal and contemporary landscaping is probably a better fit than a bungalow.
Pay attention to exterior features and finishes, too. Brick homes are built pretty solid and quite easy to maintain. Make sure the roof is in good condition and the driveway is safe, too.
5. Square Footage and Floor Plan
While a McMansion might be your dream home, it’s important to live within your means, too. Consider the amount of square footage you truly need to live instead of house hunting five-bedroom homes that will skyrocket your utility bills and create higher taxes. Also, make sure that there are enough closet space and storage.
Keep in mind it’s not always about square footage, too. A well-planned space and layout can give the illusion of a larger space so don’t eliminate a house purely on its square footage.
6. Stick to a Practical Number of Bedrooms
Speaking of a well-planned layout, stick to homes that have the exact number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need at that time. For example, don’t purchase a large home with the expectation of having multiple kids. Instead, if it’s just you and your partner, choose a two- to three-bedroom home that allows you to have a primary bedroom and home office/guest room. Should you one day have triplets, then you can transition into a larger home.
7. Test Out the Bathrooms
Test out all the bathrooms and don’t be shy. While this is a private area of someone else’s home, you need to ensure that the bathroom is in good working order. Otherwise, you may discover issues that cause headaches as a new homeowner. Make sure to flush toilets to reveal system backups and turn on all faucets (sinks and showers!) to check the water pressure. Low water pressure can be a sign of plumbing issues and needs to be addressed before signing on your new home.
8. Outdated Kitchens
Like the bathroom, make sure the kitchen is in decent shape. Also, make sure that the appliances, fixtures, and cabinetry are not too outdated. A kitchen can be quite costly to renovate, but a few repairs and an inexpensive makeover with new appliances might be doable. The important thing is to know what you’re in for and have a budget in mind if it needs work.
9. Examine the Attic and Basement
The attic and basement areas need a thorough investigation. Many times, an attic or basement can reveal structural issues in the foundation and roofing. You may even be able to determine if a home has water damage. Check for peeling, discolored paint and rotting wood trim. If you find a white chalk-like material on the wall, this could indicate a leak. Even if you have to request that the owner move boxes and objects away from walls, be sure to examine the basement!
For the attic, look for animal scat or droppings that indicate infestations. Look for mold that points to signs of a leaky roof. Expect attics to be hot and dusty, but generally clean.
10. Good Lighting
Ample windows are a wonderful feature to have in a home, especially to allow in the natural sunlight. But many people prefer a bit of privacy, too. Consider what you prefer and stick to your guns.
Also, pay attention to the lighting fixtures. Is there recessed lighting in the common areas? Are there enough outlets to add accent lamps and floor lamps when needed? Is the dining room chandelier center to the room? Some of these electrical touches can be added once you settle in, but it’s a nice addition to have in place.