6 Things to Consider For The First Time Homeowner

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.

House Price

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.

Neighborhood Trouble

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.

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6 Responses

  1. Barry says:

    Ironically, I am going through this process right now! Some great tips Frank. I would include to not get emotionally attached to the potential new home to quickly. Making emotion decision can become expensive.

    But the most important tip I can recommend and this applies to both new and existing homes… get a home inspection done. It is amazing the types of issues that can be found during the inspections. For example, grading and draining issues, critter activity in the attic, thermal pane windows that have lost their seal causing condensation to be present, and potential code violations that the typical home owner would miss.

  2. This is great advice for first-time (or veteran) homeowners, Melanie. In our real estate inspection work, some of our clients have made offers on houses without being aware of problems with the roof, plumbing and heating systems that these basic tests would reveal. Yes, we’re going to catch all these during the home inspection; but it’s better if the buyers are aware of this beforehand, so they can set their offer price accordingly.

  3. Frank Jovine says:


    Thanks for the additions, good stuff!

  4. Matt says:

    Agree, great tips from Barry!

    The other bit of advice I would suggest is to select a great Realtor to help, especially if you are on a strict timeline to purchase a home. A good Realtor that really knows the local market can make a huge difference in helping to narrowing in on what you and your family need as well as validating your opinion on pricing, etc.

  5. Ed Oliver says:

    This is a brilliant article with some really useful tips – especially the points about testing and checking parts of the house like the plumbing and roof. With the right tools you can save time and money on simply DIY tasks which will make the idea of owning a home for the first time a bit less daunting!

  6. Also think about the roof and its condition. We have seen some people bought their houses without checking the roof condition and after couple of months they had to pay a huge bill to repair their roof. Always check whether the roof is very clear and does not have any blockage. Also check the gutter and see whether you can see any damage, Also check the ceiling for colour spot which can be occurred due to water stays on the ceiling.

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