If you are buying a home, particularly if it’s your first one, remember to check the house out thoroughly for features that will matter to you in the long run. Some of them are simple things that you might take for granted but you shouldn’t. Here are some items to check off your “must have” list.
Traffic – If you always look at your prospective house in the quiet of the evening, you may not realize that by day, it is a cut-through street for commuters. Visit the property at different times during the week and on the weekends to get an accurate view of traffic noise and furniture-rumblings from the tractor trailers passing by.
Neighbors – Look for the things in the neighborhood that could potentially annoy you as a resident there. Is a neighbor’s dog barking incessantly, are children running through the yard of “your yard.” Does the kid next door have a rock band? How many vehicles are parked in front of your home. Are the neighbors’ lawns kept trimmed or is knee high grass bordering the lawn you plan to prune and fertilize? A few stealth trips to the street on neighbor patrol could save a lot of stress later.
Cell phone reception — How annoyed will you be if you can never get a good signal when trying to make a cell phone call inside your house? Make sure your cell phone works well in the home you’re considering. You won’t want to rely solely on a landline, especially in a blackout.
School system — Have you done your research on student achievement statistics in your potential community? You can check out a website such as greatschools.net, which not only lists rankings of individual schools, but provides a local forum for parents to discuss academic or facility issues in the public school system.
The Outlets — Be sure to check out how many electrical outlets the home has and their placement. Many of the older properties that have all the charms of yesteryear are lacking in the amenities, and some of the necessities of today. If you have multiple computers, smart phones, TVs and radios, you’re not going to want to string extension cords to reach the nearest outlet and navigate an obstacle course in your living room.
Water damage — Signs of a previously flooded basement are not always so obvious, particularly after an extended dry spell of weather. Look around the foundation and on the cellar walls for water marks and mold.
The windows — Find out if the windows in the house open and close properly – all of them. Try them out. It might be tedious, but it’s worth it to know if you will be struggling with a stuck window in the summer or feeling cold air on the back of your neck in the winter because a window doesn’t close quite flush with the sill.
The tap water — Be sure to run all the faucets and taste the drinking water. You may be addicted to Poland Springs anyway, but it’s good to know if the tap water tastes like sludge. If you want to install a filter system, you should know that up front.
Heating and Air Conditioning. If the home is billed as having central air, and you’re buying it in February, turn the air on anyway to make sure that it will work when you need it. The same thing goes for the heat, even if it’s the hottest day in summer. You don’t want to find out there are problems when you really need these systems to work.
The Carpet/Wood floors – If the seller says he has hardwood floors under his wall-to-wall, have him pull up a tiny corner and show you. He’s a great guy, but just saying.
The fireplace — If a cozy fire on a winter evening is important to you, make sure the fireplaces are working properly. You can get a chimney sweep for a cleaning for pretty short money, but dealing with a fireplace that doesn’t draft properly can mean real problems.
These are some of the things that unsuspecting buyers may not think about checking when they’re purchasing a home. But as the saying goes, “Buyer beware.”