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Over 120 Mistakes You Could Make When Buying A House

Updated on January 29, 2016

Questions and Comments You May Overlook When Buying A House

* Check your credit report and score often.

* Get pre-approved for a mortgage and obtain a pre-approval letter.

* Create a budget and stick to it.

* Save for that 20% down payment.

* Thoroughly screen your future neighborhood.


* Think about selling the house the day you buy the house.


* Check out the school district.

* Once your offer is accepted, hire a qualified, insured, licensed, professional inspector.

* There are residential inspectors who are professional engineers.

* Don't hire an inspector recommended by the real estate agent.

* Ask for and check references of the inspector.

* Always have a final walk through the day of closing, if possible.

* After your offer is accepted, put enough time in the contract so everything may be inspected and your due diligence may be completed.

* Make sure you stipulate your offer is contingent on the results of all of your inspections.

* Don't be afraid to walk away from a deal if something does not seem right.

* How long has the property been on the market?

* VERY IMPORTANT! Does the landscape drain away from the foundation?

* Is there a minimum of 6" from the soil to any wood on the house?

* Do the downspouts have extensions to divert rain water away from the foundation?

* If you buy the property, don't forget to change the locks and the alarm system codes including the garage.

* If there is is a chimney, does it have a cap? Does it have a chimney liner?

* Will your car or truck fit into the garage?

* How far is the garage from the kitchen for carrying groceries?

* Check the grade of the driveway. It may be hard to go up during the winter.

* Check the access to the attic.

* Are the windows large enough and in the proper location for natural light?

* If the driveway is on the north side of the house, it will take longer for the ice to melt in the winter months compared to if it was on the south side.

* Location of the house on the lot. You can remodel the house inside and out, but you cannot move the house on the lot unless you tear it down.

* Does the house have a lawn sprinkler system? Check where the controls are and have the owner show you how to operate the system.

* Does the interior have a sprinkler system? Has it been tested? When?

* Check the neighborhood during the day and night on week days and on week ends.

* Check the neighborhood during a rainy day so you can see where the water goes.

* Make sure you know the location of the main water valve to the house.

* Does the main water shutoff valve work for an emergency?

* If there is natural gas to the house, make sure you know where the main gas valve is located.

* Start your commute from the house to your work and return. How much time?

* Check the location of all trees on the property to make sure they are not too close to the house. The root system could cause problems with the drain lines or foundation.

* If you are buying the house in the winter, and there are many trees, you may want to hire an arborist.

* Make sure the owner removes all of the items you do not want before they leave.

* Ask the owner if there any energy efficient upgrades?

* How old is the air conditioning system?

* How old is the roof?

* If there is snow on the neighbor's roof and none on the house you are potentially buying, the house may need insulation in the attic.

* Has the plumbing been upgraded?

* Has the electrical been up graded?

* Does the owner have any records showing the maintenance of the mechanical systems?

* If there is a crawlspace, make sure nothing is draining into the crawlspace.

* If there is a crawlspace, is there insulation under the floor above?

* If there is a crawlspace, and the floor is exposed to soil, is there a vapor barrier over the soil and turned up the sidewalls a minimum of 1'- 0"?

* Does the crawlspace have wall vents?

* Is there outdoor lighting?

* Does the outdoor lighting have motion sensors?

* Is there enough parking for family members and guests?

* Can you get high speed internet?

* Is the house in a flood zone?

* Is the house in a flight path?

* If the house has stairs, will that be a problem for the elderly?

* If the house is on a waterfront, does the water level differ season to season?

* Check the house on an aerial photo. You will be able to see what is around the house for miles.

* Is there a pond nearby that may attract geese? Very dirty.

* Is the house in a tourist town? How will traffic effect you season to season?

* Does the neighborhood have any parking restrictions?

* Make sure you receive a certified land survey from the owner.

* Make sure there are no encroachments on your property.

* Are there any easements, right-of-ways or zoning restrictions on the property?

* Where is the nearest fire hydrant?

* What is the distance to the fire station?

* If you are moving into a snowy region, you may need a snow blower.

* Can you get service in the area with your cell phone?

* Is there a busy street nearby?

* Do the neighbors have a noisy dog?

* Are there any pet/animal restrictions?

* Check for strange odors.

* Is there a dangerous intersection nearby?

* Are there any entertainment venues nearby that would be noisy?

* Does the neighborhood have any covenants? Can you make changes to the exterior of the house?

* Are there open building permits for the property?

* Are there HOA fees?

* Visit the Home Owners Association. Obtain a detailed list of HOA restrictions and all requirements by the homeowners. Are there any upcoming changes? Remember, Home Owners Associations have a great deal of power.

* Check on the neighbors. You're going to live there for awhile.

* What about the noise level of the neighbors?

* Talk to some of the neighbors and tell them you're thinking of buying the house. You may find out some interesting things.

* Are there any cracked or missing windows?

* If you are buying a condo, are the walls soundproofed?

* Is the electrical wiring up to code?

* Does every wall have a receptacle?

* Do all electrical switches work?

* What do all electrical switches control?

* Are the receptacles grounded? Buy a small tester.

* If you can't turn on the air conditioning because of cold weather, make sure you put in the contract the owner is responsible for it to work.

* How old is the water heater?

* If you have a large family, chances are a standard 40 gallon water heater will not work.

* Will the owner show you any utility bills?

* If this is your first house, you may have to buy a lawn mower, shovels, garbage can, rakes, etc.

* Is there an open lot next door? If so, can the zoning be changed?

* If the appliances remain with the house, make sure they work.

* Make sure your appliances fit into the allotted space.

* Order a CLUE report regarding history of insurance claims.

* Make sure your washer/dryer fit into the allotted space.

* Check the National Predators list. Who is living in the neighborhood?

* If there is a gas fireplace, check the location of the shutoff valve.

* Check if all the windows have screens.

* Check if all windows work.

* Check the overhead power and telephone lines. Are there any trees that interfere with the lines?

* Does the doorbell work?

* Taste the water.

* If the house has a well, has it been tested? When?

* The entire well system should be tested including the water, (rust and arsenic) pump, tank, controls, etc.

* Is there a septic system? When was it pumped?

* Exactly where is the septic tank and leach field? A drawing would be helpful.

* If there is a swimming pool, have it checked.

* Does the house have the proper amount of insulation?

* Older houses may have lead paint.

* Older house may have asbestos.

* Many older houses have oil based paint that the owner may have covered with latex paint which will easily peel off.

* Has there been a Radon inspection? Is there a mitigation system?

* Always check for mouse infestation.

* Always look for mold everywhere. Look behind shower curtains, under sinks, etc.

* Check the water pressure at every outlet.

* Check if all toilets are sturdy. There could be broken bolts in the mounting ring.

* Make sure your inspector checks the roof, attic, and vents.

* Have your inspector check for critters in the attic.

* Make sure you check under and around anything you can move.

* If there are underground oil tanks on the property, this could be an environmental problem if they are leaking.

* Look carefully to make sure there are no cuts in the floor or ceiling joists for mechanical items. This could be a structural problem.

* Are the floors level?

* Are there vent fans in all toilets, kitchen, and laundry?

* If there is a finished basement, will you and your family be able to get out of a properly sized window during an emergency?

* Are there smoke/carbon monoxide alarms?

* Are there grab bars in the bathroom?

* Is there grout missing in the tile?

* Do the counter tops have small tile grout where bacteria could gather?

* For the disabled, is there a wheel chair ramp?

* Are the doorways wide enough for a wheel chair?

* You may want to hire specialized inspectors such as:

- A licensed plumber to snake all drain lines with a camera.

- An electrician to check the complete electrical system.

- An HVAC technician.

- A pest inspector.

- A chimney inspector.

- A roofer.

- If on a hillside, a structural engineer.


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    • profile imageAUTHOR

      K J Glasgow 

      3 years ago from Scottsdale, AZ

      Thanks for stopping by. I'm happy to see a pro like you commenting.

    • InspectorWest profile image


      3 years ago from Orange County California

      Very informative article!


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