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What should I look for in a home? In this post we'll specifically address "What should I look for in a home?" as it pertains to the house itself. We'll focus on the physical attributes of the house and its contents. So as we answer, "What should I look for in a home?" we'll be talking about "look" in a literal sense. Where should my eyes be focused?
As a buyers agent, this is detailed description of the things I'm looking for when I show homes to my clients. Each week, I'm looking at hundreds of homes online and dozens of homes in person. It's my job to find faults where there seemingly are none and redeeming qualities that may not be apparent.
So, what should I look for in home? Here's what I'm looking at:
Here comes the sun. I've yet to meet a home buyer that doesn't like "light and bright" homes. (I believe most vampires prefer the Pacific Northwest to San Diego.) Having a sense of how the sun's path travels over a house will inform you which rooms will be lighter in morning and which will be lighter in the afternoon. I used to carry a key chain compass with me; now my smart phone has made that obsolete. South facing back yards will provide the most consistent all day light.
Roofs & Windows. Having bought a new roof last year I can tell you there's nothing like living in a leaky house. Southern California has been on the rainy side this winter and roofing contractors have been busy. While we're not going to get up on the roof when we look at most homes, you should note what kind of roof you have and the general condition of it. Also take note if the house has gutters--not a given in San Diego. Like roofs, windows are not the sexiest feature of a home, but can make a big difference. An older home upgraded with new vinyl dual pane windows is more energy efficient than a neighboring house with the aluminum widows. The house will stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Looks sharp, too.
Power, water, heat. I'm not licensed contractor, but I can tell the difference between a 30 year old furnace and one that's brand new. If you look at a water heater you can probably find the manufactured date. Furnaces have an useful life expectancy of about 20 years; water heaters 10 years. As the potential next owner of this home, it's important to know what maintenance you might be taking on sooner as opposed to later. I am also not a licensed electrician, but I usually take a look at the electrical panel. If you're buying a 50 year old house, an older panel might not support today's higher energy consumption.
Where your eyes don't go. Since we're generally standing when we look at homes, we tend to look at things that are eye level. For most of us, this means that we're focused on what's 5 to 7 feet off the ground. But it's important to take a look up above and down below. You can't notice water stains on a ceiling if you're focused on the oil painting the home stager has placed at eye level. Looking down will make you observant of flooring transitions. One of my pet peeves is poorly installed flooring. HGTV has made everyone a "do-it-yourself-er," but amateur floor jobs are pretty easy to spot. Look for gaps between the baseboards and flooring, an excessive use of quarter round, and no transitions between two different floor surfaces. (ex. where tile goes to floor)
How they living? If the home is currently occupied, take notice of how the people live there. I'm not saying you should try find incriminating evidence or snoop in medicine cabinets, I'm asking, "what do the items in the home suggest about how the site/structure will affect my future enjoyment and utility?" For example, a space heater is a dead giveaway of a cold room. A dehumidifier suggests moisture. In addition to environmental factors, look closely at what's there and what's not there. It's easy to be seduced by a beautifully decorated home only to realize the home is missing a major component you're looking for. You can get caught up in fawning over a home before you notice, "Hey, there's no dining room!"
While the specific answers of "What should I look for in a home?" will differ with each individual buyer, there are some aspects that are always on my radar. When viewing a home, obtaining all the available information will allow you to write more strategic offers and shop more efficiently.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.