Buying your first house can be one of the most exciting events of your life. Moving out of rented homes and apartments and into your own place for the first time means being able to decorate, landscape, and renovate exactly the way you want to. But don’t get so excited that you purchase the first home on the market that falls within your budget. Particularly if you’re looking at older homes, make sure that you aren’t going to buy a home that will saddle you with more problems than you anticipate.
If you’re interested in a home that is priced significantly lower than other comparable homes in the area, take note. Do some investigating—chances are there are some underlying issues with the home that make it such a good price. While it’s true that sometimes homeowners drop their asking price because they need to sell their home quickly, you may or may not want to deal with the potential issues that accompany the house.
One reason a homeowner might want to sell his house quickly is because of trouble in the neighborhood. Do some research into what kind of neighborhood you would be moving in to. If there are several homes for sale on the block, there might be a good reason that the neighbors are all leaving! The six or seven homes for sale on the street might be coincidence, but take precautions to avoid a neighborhood that attracts an unusual rate of burglaries, vandalism, or disturbances.
Check Roofing and Siding
Once you’ve determined that the neighborhood is safe, inspect the outside of the house. Check the siding (or brick, stone, etc.) for wear and tear, damage, or potential future problems. Look for rust, holes, or signs of poor drainage in the gutters. Inspect the roof for loose shingles, leaks, rust, or places that sag or indicate structural faults. The last thing you want is to have to contact a roofer to fix your roof a week after you move in.
If you don’t trust yourself to make an accurate assessment of your home’s exterior condition, feel free to call a home inspector to do it for you—if it saves you buying the wrong house, the expense will be well worth it.
Test Plumbing and Heating
Once you’ve made it inside, one of the first areas to look for red flags in is the plumbing system. Look under the sinks and behind the toilets for damp or discolored walls or flooring that indicate leaky plumbing. Turn on the taps and check both the water pressure and temperature; listen carefully for any unusual noises like clunking or banging in the pipes. Ask how old the hot water heater is and if it has ever been repaired or replaced.
Check your heating and air conditioning too. Ask about your furnace—has it ever had problems? Been replaced? How long has it been since it was cleaned? If it’s been a while, most homeowners will either consent to have it cleaned or reduce the price of the house so that you can afford to have a Calgary furnace cleaning company out to get it done as soon as you move in.
Bring a Measuring Tape
It’s hard to guestimate space in a new home, especially when the rooms are empty. Measure your largest pieces of furniture (such as sofas, bookshelves, pianos, and the dining room table) and write down their exact measurements. When you look at homes, take a measuring tape with you and measure the areas in which you would put your own furniture. You don’t want to buy a home and then find out that you don’t have a room large enough to house your 9’ Concert Grand Piano.
Décor (Inside and Out)
If the inside of the house isn’t your style, you’ll want to see how big your budget is for major renovations. It might have the perfect number of rooms, square footage, and fall within your price range, but if the kitchen cabinets are too dark for your taste, the carpet in the living area clashes with your couches, or the bathrooms are still in the Pepto-Bismol-pink tile of the early 50s, you’ll have some expensive renovations on your hands. Be prepared for added expenses if you choose a house that isn’t already decorated to your taste.
Don’t worry about finding the perfect house. Just make sure you are aware of all the issues your potential new home has. If you can’t handle any problems on your own, it’s best to hire a trusted service contractor.
Author Bio: Melanie Hargrave is a wife and homemaker whose family is her pride and joy. In addition to spending time with her husband and daughters, she loves reading, working on her house with the help of Just In Time Furnace, and taking road trips across North America.