What To Look For When I Go To A Home Showing?
If you’re in the market for a new home, there will eventually come the time to inspect the property in person. During home showings, it’s important to know what to look for when determining whether the house fits your needs, potential problems in the future, and other factors that certainly need to be considered.
If you’re unsure of what to look for, read on to discover what you need to examine during the home showing.
Use Your Senses
By the time you’ve spotted a property from the outside, you have already begun inferring what the home is like inside and out. Your senses can give you direct feedback on what the home’s condition is. Here are few ways that your senses can be used during a walk-through:
- The human eye can detect slight variations in height, for example, which can point to potential problems or things that the owner may have concealed (intentionally or unintentionally).
- Your hearing can indicate how well insulated walls are and whether you can hear passing traffic in the home.
- A musty smell can indicate rot, gas leaks, and damage from pets that may costs thousands in repairs to rectify.
- Use your sense of touch to verify the sturdiness of the home structures. For instance, you may notice that a banister is loose or the stairs to a basement are wobbly. Excessively cold or warm areas may point to poor insulation or even electrical shorts.
Your intuition is more valuable than you know. While you may not be able to articulate why a particular house seems off, chances are there are elements of the home off that set off alarm bells. After all, you don’t want to purchase a house only till later realize that there was something major that you missed and experience buyers remorse.
Check the Flooring
The floors of the home are more than just the surfaces you will walk on everyday. Here’s what to look for:
- Uneven flooring can be a sign of the foundation shifting, which is a very expensive and invasive repair.
- Look for warping in the floor that indicates potential plumbing problems or structural issues that need to be addressed.
- Floors by water sources, such as the bathroom and washers, need to be inspected for signs of leaking and water damage. Look for discoloration or unusual sagging, which will worsen over time and require repair at some point in the future.
Cracks in the Walls
Cracks in the wall walls of the home are not a good sign. This can indicate a number of problems, such as water damage from a leaky roof, the structure of shifting overtime, or poorly-performed repairs that may conceal larger issues.
Pay Attention to Paint
Paint is typically an easy fix when moving into a home, so a bad paint job may not be a problem in and of itself. However, do be aware that older homes may have lead paint - which is a health issue and a potential health issue. Bringing a lead test kit to swab for lead dust can produce results in seconds.
Paint can also be used to conceal leaks or repairs on a ceiling or wall. Look for discoloration or areas where paint doesn’t match the surrounding areas. This can be a sign that the owner painted over leaks or damage caused by pests such as termite or carpenter ants.
If you notice any unusual cover-ups, ask why the work was done. If you get an evasive answer, you may want to scrutinize the home further or take your money elsewhere.
Look for Water in the Basement
If the home has a basement or areas that are beneath the home, keep an eye out for any lingering water or water damage. A musty, moldy smell is usually a sign of mold and fungus growth. On the other hand, if it has recently rained and the basement is dry, that’s a good sign that it is impervious to groundwater infiltrating the basement.
Test the Windows
The quality and condition of windows should be a major item on your list during the home inspection. Cracked or broken windows are obviously a problem that can be used during the negotiation process, but unseen aspects of windows can also be problematic. For example, window frames for any signs of moisture that indicate a leak. Or, you may have windows that are stuck shut due to paint or a shifting foundation.
Also, don’t forget that cheaper faulty windows can lead to expensive utility bills in the future. You may want to ask the seller about how much they spend on heating bills during the colder and warmer months to determine if there’s a major temperature leak coming from poorly-insulated windows.
Assess the Condition of the Roof
A roof repair is a major renovation for most homes, so make sure that the roof is in good condition. You may not be able to see the entire roof for signs of leaks or missing shingles, but you want to inspect any adjoining walls and surfaces that can be affected by water damage.
Be sure to ask about when the roof was installed/replaced and whether a warranty is still in effect. Older homes usually have several layers of roofing, which may include asbestos that needs to be removed or sealed to prevent inhalation.
Also, pay attention to signs of pest infestation. Squirrels and bird nests are most common signs, but carpenter bees and wasps may also make their home on a roof, causing expensive repairs and pest removal procedures.
Take Notice of Trees near the Property
Trees are a great amenity for many homeowners, but they do pose a number of risks that can affect the home. Trees may grow into the property, causing concrete to crack, roots that tunnel into your basement and walls, falling over during storms, serving as a habitat for pests, and other problems. If the trees look like they are dying, removal is an expensive procedure that can cost thousands.
Sussing Out Electrical and Plumbing Issues
Unless you’re an electrician or plumber, knowing what to look for about a home’s inner workings can be difficult for most people - especially when you won’t be able to see behind walls.
For these issues, you may want to take a look at what you can see and form an inference from there. As an example, old knob-tube wiring indicates that the walls probably contain old wires that may not be able to withstand the power-demands of modern appliances. For water, test every faucet and toilet for an even flow. Water that spurts from a faucet or poor flushing toilets may be indicative of plumbing problems originating from the septic tank or sewer.
Find Out the History of the Home
While most homeowners are forthcoming about a home’s history (i.e. build date, previous owners), a seller’s agent may not know everything about the home. During the home inspection process, try to look for how the home progressed over the years, including any additions, renovations, and replacements. This can give you an idea of the property’s problems that may appear in the future.
Follow Up after the Walk Through
After the walk through, it’s up to you to perform due diligence. You’ll want to investigate any building violations and permit issues that you, the new owner, will inherit. Do your research by contacting the local building department, fire department, and historic agencies for more information on the home to learn about any issues with the home.
Also, check if a neighbor has filed complaints with the home. Complaints may indicate that there are problems with the property, or that you may end up living next to a sensitive neighbor.