5 Things Homebuyers Should Look for When Touring a Home
As a homebuyer, every house that you tour is filled with possibilities. There’s a moment on the front porch before the door swings open when you find yourself asking, “Could this be the one?”
According to Realtor.com, the average homebuyer tours about 10 houses before finding their dream home, so while it’s possible that the very first one you look at could be the one, in all likelihood, you’ll need to commit to spending a few weeks (or even a few months!) pounding the pavement, opening doors, climbing staircases, and peering into closets, garages, and bedrooms until you finally arrive at real estate heaven.
Throughout that process, it’s easy to let all of the bathrooms, kitchens, and yards blend into one—so much so that you may be missing out on key details that will inform the homebuying process.
We encourage you to look a little bit more critically as you tour homes. Consider the following factors:
Unless you’re moving down the street from where you already live, you’re not just moving into a new home; you’re moving into a new neighborhood. Take the time to explore each potential home’s surroundings in addition to touring the home itself. How close are the neighbors? If you’re looking at a townhouse or condo, how many shared walls are there? Do you notice a lot of families, young professionals, or long-time residents? What restaurants, parks, schools, and amenities are close by? Most importantly, do you feel safe? Try visiting the neighborhood at different times of day to really get a feel for it. If you see neighbors, chat with them about how they like the area.
Stains on the Ceiling
The walls and windows at eye level give you lots to look at when touring a home, but don’t forget to look up. Keep an eye out for stains on the ceiling. These may indicate a leak that will cost you after you’ve moved in. Ask questions about any stains you observe. The same goes for any cracks or damage. If a leak has already been fixed, you may be able to ask the homebuyer to paint over the remaining stain before you take ownership.
Whether you’re dreaming of a big backyard for your dog to romp in or a small patio for wine and book club, outdoor space is an important item to consider when touring potential homes. It should be as aesthetically pleasing as it is manageable. Spend time exploring the yard, deck, patio, or any other outdoor space. Is there grass you’ll have to water and mow? Is there debris you’d like the owner to remove before you move in (if you don’t ask, they might not!)? Is the deck or patio in good shape? Is there a pool you’ll have to maintain—or room if you’d like to install one? If there’s a fence, ensure that it’s sturdy and secure. Which direction is it facing and how will that affect sun exposure throughout the day? The outdoor space should meet your needs, not the other way around.
If the home has a washer and dryer, a refrigerator, and other big appliances your first question should be: Are these included with the home? Many homebuyers expect the previous owner to leave behind these items and then are disappointed when they move in only to discover they’re gone. After establishing if these will be yours along with the home, check their condition. How old are they? Are they working? Are they the type of appliance you prefer (i.e. a gas stove versus an electric stove)? If they’re not working or they’re not what you want, you don’t want to be stuck having to haul them away and replace them.
When touring a home, don’t be afraid to open closets and cabinets (with the homeowner’s permission, of course). Inspect all storage areas of the home—closets, garage, shed, shelving—and ask yourself if it meets your needs. If it doesn’t, is it possible to add more storage space? If not, is there a storage facility nearby where you can rent a storage unit? You want your new home to be comfortable and livable—and that means clutter-free.