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Things to check for when house hunting

Updated on October 27, 2016

Know what you're getting into

Buying a home is an exciting time and something most of us have dreamed about at some point or another. But during this exciting time, don't forget that there are some things you want to check before signing on the dotted line. Even though it is HIGHLY recommended (or required) that you have a professional home inspector look at the property, there are some things a home inspector may not be required to look at, or may even overlook. You don't want any costly surprises popping up after you've already purchased the house, because then it is 100 percent your problem to fix. Fortunately, there are things you can do yourself to make sure the home you're thinking about buying is in tip top shape. So what are you waiting for?

Don't be embarrassed to check these things over. This is a big investment you are making, and you can save yourself a lot of headache and money by doing so.

Make your list, and check it twice!

  • Check drains and sinks for- Strange smells, stains, or draining issues. Make sure both hot and cold water works in all sinks, showers, etc. Also pay attention to water pressure. Make sure water shuts off completely when turned to the "off" position.
  • Water- Taste the water in the home. Old pipes can give an unpleasant taste. Remember, you are BUYING this house, and anything you don't like about it after the sale will need to be changed at your expense, or you will have to learn to live with it.
  • Toilets- Flush any toilets in the house WITH toilet tissue in them. That way if they have problems flushing, you will know. Problems don't always present themselves with just water in the bowl.
  • Windows- Check for double paned windows. These are much better in the winter time. Also make sure the windows slide up and down easily, and will stay open when you want to let the outside air in. Also look at the locks and make sure they all function properly. Check that screens are installed in the windows as well.
  • Electric panel box- Should be clearly labeled for use, and should not be dirty or grimy. Check thoroughly for any disconnected or loose wires, as this is a big problem. Also the main circuit breaker should be at least 100 amps.
  • Heat and central air- Turn the thermostat on and make sure all vents, etc. work properly, appear clean, and that the temp heats or cools to the temperature set on the thermostat.
  • Carpeting/floors- Check all carpeted areas for any mold or water damage not only on the carpet, but also check for mold underneath the carpets as well. Also this is a good way to get an idea of what condition the floor is in underneath the carpet. If you jump in the middle of a room and the floor feels weak, this is a BAD sign.
  • Basement- Check that washer/dryer hookups all are situated conveniently for your use, and that they are all in working condition. Check for proper ventilation for a dryer to be used. Also check for a wash basin or sink (which is very useful), and that there is a drain in the floor. This is helpful if there is ever an accident with your water heater, washing machine, etc. and water gets into your basement. Also check for water seepage and previously water damaged areas. Look for mold, as this can be very costly to get rid of, and if the mold is there now, there is a very expensive reason why it is there.
  • Electrical outlets- Check for any damage, and that outlets are secured tightly to the wall. They should not pull out at all or move around when plugging or unplugging appliances. Also keep in mind the location of the outlets, and how many are in each room to decide if they are accessible to you.
  • Furnace- You want to know if it is an electric or gas furnace. Gas typically heats better. Also look at the condition it is in. Ask questions about how old the furnace is and if routine maintenance has been done as it should be.
  • Smoke alarms- Check for a smoke alarm at least on each floor of the home, including in the basement. Also if the home uses a gas water heater or furnace, there should be carbon monoxide detectors as well. Make sure they all work.
  • Water heater- Check to make sure it is not in disrepair, and doesn't appear to be any leaks. Look at the ground around the heater to see if it's a different color or looks like water has been pooled around the area. The supply pipes coming from the water heater should be copper pipes.
  • Attic- Check for proper amount of insulation in the attic. Also pay attention to the steps/stairs leading up to the attic to see what kind of shape they are in. Check that there are no broken windows or obvious areas where pests could get inside.
  • Doors- Check that all doors to the outside shut and lock properly. Check for screens in storm doors. Also check doors within the home to make sure they are well attached to the hinges and are not loose.
  • Outside the home- Look at the house. Is the siding/bricks/paint in good shape? How does the roof look? The ground should be sloped away from the house. Gutters and spouts should all be clear and in good shape, no broken or sagging pieces. Also check porch steps, decks, and porches for any repair issues.

Thumbs up to you!

Using these helpful tips will have you well on your way to being a smart new home owner!
Using these helpful tips will have you well on your way to being a smart new home owner!

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