When it comes to home buying and selling it is important for the buyer to know what they need to look for when viewing the home and it is important for the seller to know what potential buyers will be looking for in their home. With home staging becoming more popular it is easier for the seller to stage their home to sell quick, but it is also easier for buyers to become over enamored with the home based on the look and miss important details they should have been looking for.
There are many more details to consider other than how the home looks when it comes to finding that perfect home. An experienced Realtor will know how to keep their home buyers from becoming distracted by the home staging and will re-focus their attention to some of these key areas:
An experienced Realtor will often start by reviewing the public records available for the home and even the neighborhood the home is located in. You can obtain public records from your local courthouse and in some cases through an online search. Public records can inform the home buyer of the history of the home before they even look at the home. It is important for home buyers to be aware of what is in the home’s public records because these records can alert the home buyers to many possible security threats against them living in the home or further investments they will need to put into the home such as:
- Liens that have been placed against the home. A lien on the home means the current or previous home owners have unpaid taxes on the home and the government has a right to the home until the debt is paid off.
- How many times the home has been withdrawn from the market and put back on as a new listing. This can alert you to whether there have been significant changes to the asking price of the home or if the home has been having difficulty being sold.
- How long the sellers have owned the home for.
- How much is currently owed on the home by the sellers. This is especially helpful in the case of a short sale.
- Whether improvements or additions have been made to the home without approval or a permit.
- Whether the home is in foreclosure or being sold due to a divorce.
All of these factors can affect how much of an offer you should make on the home.
WHAT DOES THE HOME SMELL LIKE?
Once you’ve completed your public record search you can move forward with actually viewing the home. It may sound strange to think that you need to pay attention to how the home smells, but the smell of a home can alert you to a lot of important things. How a home smells can alert you to possible problems such as:
- Whether or not the current home owners have pets you may be allergic to, which could require a much more thorough and deep cleaning of the home to remove allergens.
- Whether or not there is a potential for mold or mildew that would need to be fixed
- Whether or not there are potentially any electrical issues in the home
- Whether there is a possibility of infestation such as rats, roaches, or termites.
- How well the current home owners have taken care of the home.
While it is true many bad scents can go away with time or can be corrected with work this is still a decision you need to make as to how much work you will need to and are willing to put into the home before you consider how much of an offer to make on the home.
ARE THE KITCHEN AND BATHROOM FUNCTIONAL?
The kitchen and bathrooms of a home are often the most commonly used rooms as well as the most expensive when it comes to home improvements. Of course, having a kitchen and bathroom that are welcoming and look nice will be important, but other details you should consider include:
- Checking all of the appliances and making sure they are all in working order.
- Make sure the kitchen has plenty of cabinet and counter space to meet the needs of your family.
- Make sure there are no water leaks, water pressure issues, or any other problems with plumbing.
- If possible, flush the toilet and run the water in the sinks and showers/baths to check for any possible backups.
While many of these issues may not be a deal breaker for purchasing the home, you will still want to know exactly what you can expect to need to invest into the home to make your kitchen and bathroom functional before you make a decision on how much of an offer to place on the home.
Many times, homes that are on the market have been carefully cleaned out and decluttered to maximize the space in the home and show the home as a functional living area. However, you need to view the home as being lived in by yourself and your family – along with all of your belongings. Things to look for include:
- Is there enough room to fit all of your furniture comfortably?
- Are closets in the bedrooms large enough for each member of your family to store their clothes and personal belongings?
- Are their hallway closets or entryway closets to store things such as towels, extra bedding, coats, family games, and cleaning supplies?
- Does the kitchen have enough storage space for all of your small appliances, dishes, pots and pans, utensils, and dry goods?
- Do the bathrooms have enough storage space for your toiletries, toilet paper, towels, hair supplies, makeup, etc.?
Looking at the home as if you are already living there and determining where you would store everything before you decide to purchase the home can save you from a lot of stress later on if you purchase the home only to realize you have to get rid of things because you don’t have enough storage space.
DOES THE HOME HAVE AN ATTIC OR BASEMENT?
If the home has an attic, basement, or both, you can gather information on the stability of the home and whether there is a potential for very costly repairs to be needed by carefully inspecting the attic and basement. When inspecting an attic and basement you should look for:
- An indication of water leaks on the ceiling of the attic. (Or on the ceiling of the home in general) If there is evidence of water damage or there appear to be water leaks coming from the ceiling, this could be a good indication of a bad roof on the home that may need to be repaired.
- A well-maintained and dry basement. This is a sign that the home has a solid foundation and is properly sealed against moisture.
- Moisture, rot, or cracks in either the attic or basement. These are all indications that the home could have serious problems that will be costly to repair.
Because problems in the attic or basement can often be the signal of very costly repairs needing to be done on the home, if you see anything you think might be a concern you should have it investigated more closely by an inspector and contractor to determine how much repairs on the home could cost before you make an offer on the home.
INSPECT HVAC, WATER HEATERS, AND OTHER LARGE APPLIANCES
While it is great when the home comes with large appliances such as the HVAC unit and water heater, these are often items that we simply expect to be in good working order without thoroughly checking. Large appliances such as these can also be very costly to repair so you want to take into consideration any repairs that will need to be done before deciding what to offer on the home.
While an experienced Realtor and the tips above will certainly help you find issues in a potential new home for yourself and your family, it is still always best to have the home inspected by a professional inspector who may find issues or concerns that you missed. Once you know exactly what you can expect from the home, you can make an informed decision as to whether or not you want to place an offer on the home, whether the seller is willing to pay the cost of repairs, and whether you can add the cost of the repairs into your budget for the home.