Now that the market is slowing down a bit with higher average days on market, many buyers are able to take a breath before whipping out their check books on a house that just hit the market. They are receving the luxury of thinking about a possible purchase for more than a nano-second (for most houses in most markets.)
As a buyer, you want to learn as much as possible about your future home. After all you are buying it to live in for at least a few years - so shouldn't you take at least a few minutes to learn about it?
Yes, you will have the house inspected, but why not do a little research up front so that you are better informed on what you are buying and what you should be paying for it. Many of these reasons will not be identified by a home inspection so you need to do the sleuthing. A few reasons are part of the home inspection - but you can sleuth out some of the answers ahead of the inspection - and save the money if the answer on the property is a resounding no.
Here are seven reasons to view a house in person several times before committing to buy it. And to visit not just during daylight hours but also in the evening as well.
Noise. A buyer won’t be able to learn every audible sound at a house the first time there, but with multiple visits they’re likely to hear if barking dogs live close, if neighbors are noisy late at night, if people are outside talking early or late, and more. Are kids practicing musical instruments for hours at a time that you can hear? These are important questions that buyers need to know - particularly when the home is close to others or a condo.
Indoor layout. It’s impossible to tell from one visit what it will be like living in a newly purchased house. If possible, take ten minutes and sit quietly in the living room and then in the kitchen. How is the light? What do you see from the windows in the kitchen? Is there good sight line to the yard? Do the rooms flow well for you? Are there stairs that could be problematic for you or kids? Are the bedrooms in the right places? (I don't like cape cods with only two bedrooms upstairs for a family with two or three children.) Is there enough storage space? Clients should know a house’s layout by heart before making a bid on it.
Little things. Only by multiple visits can you identify things that will need fixing or replacing. What shape is the bathroom tile in? Do all the outlets work? Do doors and windows open, close and lock properly? Spend time in each room with a notebook. If possible, turn on every appliance and run every water source to make sure drains are unclogged. Are you going to have to paint before you move in? Are the light fixtures adequate?
Big things Granted you are not a home inspector, but you have eyes that work and common sense to use. Look at the furnace and the outside air conditioning unit. Are they rusting or is there a sticker saying "installed in 2023?" How does the water heater look? Is there rust at the bottom of the tank or is it a tankless water heater that will save you money? In a single family home or a townhome, step outside and look at the roof. Are the shingles lying flat as they should or are they buckling? Is there moss on the roof or little trees growing out of the gutters? It's fine if these things need repair or replacement but the property should be priced accordingly - or at least your offer should reflect the property condition. You also need to make sure that you have the cash on hand for repairs or the financing to allow for the repairs. For example, an FHA 203k loan would be perfect for many fixer-uppers.
Neighbors. It’s amazing how often people buy houses with no idea who the neighbors are. The more visits made to a house for sale the more likely you will encounter neighbors, especially on weekends, when most people are home. Those buying a condo/coop should meet others living there, especially directly above and below them. When you are upstairs (assuming the house has a second floor,) take a peek into the neighboring yards. Are they neat and tidy or is it the back yard of a junk yard or
Cars You can tell a lot about your future neighbors and the neighborhood by the cars parked in the street and how they are parked. Are the cars newer cars or old and beat up? Are there a lot of high end cars or electric cars? Are the cars parked in driveways or hidden away in garages? Is there enough parking for the neighborhood or are cars jammed together, possibly making it difficult - or even unsafe- to walk your dog in the evening?
Nighttime Vibe It' a good idea to visit your future neighborhood in the evening. During the daylight hours when many people are at work, the neighborhood may feel empty. In the evening when people are home, you may get a chance to actually see some of your possible future neighbors. Are there people on front porches? Are there children playing in the yards or people walking their dogs? Do you feel like the community is inviting and safe or empty and dark? These are answers your realtor can't give you. Everyone's standards and reactions are different. You need to make the decisions on whether you will be happy here.
For many of these questions, there is no right or wrong answer. Only you can calibrate your reactions to the information you are gathering - but you should gather it in your own time.
If you are looking for a new home in the DC metro area, please give the Lise Howe Group a call at 240-401-5577 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.