House Hunting Tips & Checklist
It is important that you do some research before you go. You can use our Mortgage Connection Center to find out whether it’s practical for you to buy or rent, if you can afford a $50,000 or $500,000 home, get pre-approved for loans, and even ask questions and get professional advice. As a first time home buyer understanding your boundaries and educating yourself can alleviate the stress and anxieties about making a home purchase.
You may want to create a list of your needs, wants, and do not wants to share with your real estate professional and remind yourself of your priorities. Keep the checklist handy to make sure the home you’re looking at is right for you. Here are some tips to follow when house hunting:
- Neighborhoods: Check the surrounding area and find information on – Commute to work, Public Lighting, Pet Friendliness, Crime Rate, Public Transportation Access, Grocery Stores, Hospitals, and Schools.
- Cell Phone Coverage: Use apps that are useful for house hunting.
- Local Neighborhood Home Values: Compare home values. How much are nearby homes in the same neighborhood selling for?
- Additional Fees: Ask about average monthly bills. Are there monthly neighborhood or club house fees? How much is insurance and property tax? Is there a fee for garbage removal?
When browsing a home, make sure you take notice of all the details; good and bad. Here are some questions to ask yourself or your real estate professional, and items to check for when house hunting:
- Flooring, Windows, & Ceiling: Check and make note of the age and condition of the flooring, windows, and ceilings – this can be used to plan for any renovations or updates the house may need.
- Walls: Are there any stains? Will you need to repaint them? Are they soundproof?
- Bathrooms & Kitchen: Check to see if the faucets are stain-free, mildew/mold-free, and leak-free. There should be plenty of storage and cabinet space. Make sure the bathrooms have working fans and flush the toilet to make sure it functions properly.
- Rooms: Is there enough natural lighting? Are the floors even? Does the home have smoke detectors installed?
- Stairs: Do they creak or show any sign of damage?
- Doors: Make sure they open and close properly and check locks to make sure they work and are in good condition. Are the doors weatherproofed? Does the doorbell work?
- Systems: This includes electrical, heating, air conditioning, security, plumbing, insulation, water, and sewer systems. Is everything up to date? Hire a home inspector to double check everything before purchasing.
Don’t forget the exterior of the house!
- Roof: Make sure there is no sagging roof line, discoloration, or holes that may cause leaking.
- Foundation, Driveway, & Pool: Check for any damage in the foundation, driveway, and pool by looking for visible cracks.
- Siding: Is the paint peeling? Are there any cracks or splits?
- Landscaping & Curb Appeal: Are the trees, lawns, and fence in good condition?
- Garage: Whether it is manual or remote controlled, make sure that it functions.
- Patio/Deck: Are they stable and in good condition?
- Pests: Check for signs of infestation of bugs such as termites, mosquitoes, ants, mice, and roaches
- Take photos
- Wear comfortable clothing
- Interview & find a realtor before you take a tour
- Bring a map
- Ask about any known damages or home history
- Stay in your budget
- Keep your expectations realistic
House hunting can be stressful, but organizing and making sure each home is evaluated can help you feel some control and keep track of homes you tour in the process. If you print a few of these, they could be used as scorecards to do side-by-side comparisons. When you do move in to your dream home, try reading tips on how to make your move smooth and enjoyable for a stress-free experience!
Good Luck & Happy House Hunting!