Home > Guides > Home Buying > Find a house > 5 Things to look for when buying a home

5 Things to look for when buying a home

By | Published: Feb 03, 2010 | 31 Comments

With the extension of the first-time home buyer tax credit, many homebuyers are back in the market. The low interest rates, tax credit, and low property values make this the ideal time to buy a home. But with the added number of foreclosures, the homes currently for sale also have a greater range of physical conditions. For the first time home buyer, this process can easily be overwhelming, but these 5 tips should help.

  1. Don't be fooled by pretty wall colors

    Instead, try to envision the house painted white, and focus on the age of appliances, condition of floors, and any signs of mold or structural damage.

  2. Check out the age of the furnace

    An old heating or cooling system can run you thousands if you have to replace it immediately, and should impact the price you're willing to bid on the house.

  3. Are the windows newer or older?

    This is a major plus if they are newer, as it will help you on the heating and cooling bills.

  4. Before you even walk into the house, check out the roof

    Is it caving in? Or is it relatively new? This is a major item that you don't want to pay for once you move in, plus a caving roof could mean water damage.

  5. Check for water damage

    If water is leaking in from outside, then you'll usually see mold alongside the basement walls. Be sure to walk around outside to see what's causing this. It's important to be aware of these issues so you can find out how much repairs are going to cost upfront.

    Regardless of which type of house you end up buying, a good rule of thumb is to focus on structural integrity rather than great décor and paint colors. A house that has ugly carpet and walls is much easier to fix than a pretty house that has a cracked foundation. Another important asset in buying a home is having the right Realtor.

Comments

By Dan,  Tue Mar 30 2010, 22:02
The articles above make some really good points and I am assuming these tips are for people that are not well versed in home repair etc. In addition I would strongly urge any homebuyer to have an inspection completed to catch things (if any) that aren't readily apparent as well. Make any offer subject to an inspection of the home by a licensed real estate inspector.
By Fran Rokicki,  Tue Sep 14 2010, 16:09
I advise my clients to look the home over, a few times. Our contracts do include a home inspection by a licensed home inspector. In the state of Connecticut, they must be licensed. If something is not working or is damaged, both parties can bring in a licensed plumber for the plumbing issues, electrician for the electrical and so on. Whatever needs to be addressed will have a second look. You just don't want to purchase a home, without knowing everything that you can about it.
By Tricia Hupperich,  Thu Apr 28 2011, 19:21
Buying a house is a huge investment. In my 20 years of experience, most buyers know if the house is right for them within the first 30 seconds. After that, we review the pro's and con's of the house to make sure it works for them. There is NO perfect house no matter what the price range. But there are houses that do work better than others for the buyer. By being open and listening to the Heart, trust yourself to know that you have found the right house.
By Robert Sizer,  Mon Aug 1 2011, 13:52
Condition of the property will affect the value to the buyer, especially if something is found after the purchase agreement. While California contracts state, sold as is, subject to inspection and review of disclosures, repairs can be negotiated and/or the buyer can cancel the agreement. Make sure to check with your agent regarding a license and insured home inspector. In case they miss something, you'll have recourse later.
By Peter Reiter,  Tue Aug 30 2011, 20:59
One that I didn't notice here that is pretty important is settling, check for cracks in the foundation and along the walls, especially in brick and cement homes these will be noticeable.
By Shawn Rosa,  Tue Dec 13 2011, 11:04
furnace is huge! hot water tank is far less important
By Testr,  Wed Jan 25 2012, 12:55
dsf sdff s dff sdf sdf sdf
By Testr,  Wed Jan 25 2012, 12:56
f sd f sdf s sdf s sdf f
By Adrian Provost,  Mon Feb 27 2012, 16:59
Pretty pertinent information.
By Matie,  Mon Jun 4 2012, 06:48
Agree with Tricia Hupperich. Good article
By jeaniene81,  Mon Jun 4 2012, 09:20
It would be nice if these were written out in a checklist format for new home buyers.
By Manuel Ramirez,  Fri Aug 3 2012, 00:43
These 5 tips are very important tips as we can't ignore this before going to buying the house.
By Mary Ann Kelley,  Thu Aug 9 2012, 22:53
Excellent points - thank you all.
By Suzi Highland,  Sun Aug 12 2012, 12:55
From experience, in updating an inherited home, if huge trees are planted close to the home, they can have invasive roots. Someone planted a ficus tree, which was beautiful, close to the home, and in order to sell it, we had to tear out and replace an entire slab!! You think that's cheap? Not!!
By Mildredmosby201,  Sat Jan 26 2013, 19:48
When I purchased my first home I had the wrong realtor and I was green as grass, and it paid off in repairs that lasted from the time I moved in until the day I left. The roof was bad leaking in the attic, The foundation was bad water was coming under the wall where the parking garage was made into a dining area I had water damage and mold to the wall. The windows was falling out all around the house. The air and heating unit was bad smelling of carbonmonoxide told to me by LG&W. I spent so much money I wish I had this info then Thank You
By Doris Haines,  Tue Feb 5 2013, 16:14
Having been a previous home owner, it helps to have these items reviewed and reminded what to look for!
thx
By Lina Gerchak,  Sun Feb 17 2013, 12:37
Sellers will stage homes and make minor upgrades that are relatively inexpensive. It is fairly easy for buyers to stop at the beautiful wall colors and coziness of a home when all of the lights are turned on but overlook the true physical condition of the home. A great check list would help buyers to be more focused on the important features during the viewing process.
By Meg12309,  Fri Jun 28 2013, 16:45
Is buying a home really a good idea?
By Paul Mccormick,  Tue Aug 6 2013, 10:43
And the best tool available FREE for 1st time homebuyers is IB Calculator from InBedrock.com. It will help you better understand ALL real costs of homeownership: 1) Purchase closing costs, 2) Financing costs, 3) Operating costs like real estate taxes + homeowners insurance + utilities/maintenance costs, and finally Sale closing costs. Perform Buy v Rent and Breakeven Analysis, and understand how + why you build equity over time in your home. Get Started Today! No advanced math or EXCEL skills needed.
By Scott Butterfoss,  Sat Oct 19 2013, 16:47
Excellent points - thank you all...Also it helps to have these items reviewed and reminded what to look for! So, Thanks again!
By raymar12,  Fri Nov 1 2013, 12:21
We looked at a home with a lake right at the edge of of the 1 and 1/2 acres back yard. First thing I asked was are there any sink holes in the area and if anything needed repaired, the Realtor said the heat and c.air are old 21 years old but work. I also asked about the wiring she said it is as old as the home 21 years old. The house looks great new carpet through out only thing we don't like is that the living room and kitchen have wood paneling but that we can take off and paint walls. So why is this 150 thousand to 200 thousand home only $49.000? she said they wanted to sell fast. Should we pass or should we grab it?
By Carmen Brodeur,  Tue Dec 3 2013, 08:17
Good tips. It's important to look for these items when you are viewing the home but it's especially important to obtain a professional home inspection once you've gone under contract.
By mine3780,  Tue Sep 9 2014, 14:42
When I bought my first home I bought in in an ugly part of town the value has not really gone up at all in 10 yrs :(
What I mean by ugly part of town is that I bought it close to the projects . I didn't even see that since the house was in perfect condition pass the inspection with flying colors and the price was perfect and not to mention it has a huge kitchen .. I should have bought the 1st one I seen and not kept looking and looking :0(
I didn't get the 1st one because the carpet was from the 1800's and the paint was old as dirt . I am getting ready to purchase my 2nd home and I am so scare to commit the same mistakes .
By Calvin James,  Sat Oct 25 2014, 10:26
I had heard most of those except the roof one before. I appreciate the advice. I am currently on the market for a new home. I love my Realtor and he has been very helpful! http://marcfreemanrealestate.com/
By JamieUSR,  Sun Nov 9 2014, 17:47
In addition, check the neighborhood to ensure your safety. Hire an inspector to do all the things you mentioned above to get an accurate report about a certain property that you are planning to buy.
By mattdalek47,  Mon Nov 10 2014, 12:08
Also, be sure to check for older water damage. The previous owners may have fixed the leak, but not the leftover damage. If it's not too old, you can find a company to fix it for you, so it doesn't necessarily have to be a deal breaker. You just want to make sure and be aware of it going in.

http://www.thompsonvalleydisasterkleenup.ca/en/flood_water_damage.html
By Calvin James,  Mon Nov 10 2014, 20:29
I would have never guessed to look at the windows! Now that you described it their insulation properties make sense. My wife and I are looking to buy our first house. Your guides have been very helpful! http://www.parklandshomesforsale.com/neighborhoods/parkland-fl-real-estate/
By jaytoolman92,  Wed Nov 12 2014, 13:57
Buying for the first time can always be scary. When I bought my first car, I left the dealership thinking of things I could have done better. I would never want that to happen to me after all is said and done when buying a house. http://www.executivesplus0240023.remax-stlouis.com/
By Ashley Reed,  Tue Jan 13 2015, 13:48
I never thought to check the windows until I moved into an apartment with old windows. There was a draft all winter, and we had to use space heaters as well as the heating just to stay warm. I'm looking to buy my first house this year, so I want to make sure I get something nice. I know I'm going to have to get something a little cheaper that I'll be fixing up, but a good roof, and good windows are a must! http://www.executivesplus0240023.remax-stlouis.com/
By Mark Saunders,  Tue Feb 3 2015, 10:23
When looking at a home think about what can be changed and what can not be changed don't get caught up in how its is decorated
By paulthegrizzly1,  Tue Apr 28 2015, 11:34
Another good thing to look for when surveying a new piece of real estate is the width of the doors. It would be horrible to try to move into a place and realize that your sofa or piano has to remain on the lawn. A double door entrance, with one fixed in place for normal use, but can open when needed, is great for moving in large items.
http://fdrealestate.com/companyinfo.php

Leave a comment

POST

3/7 guides | View all

With property values dropping in many places, short sale has now become a common term in the mortgage business. The most intuitive way to remember what a short sale is — is by thinking that it is the sale of a house that is short on money owed on home ...

By

Got a real estate question? 

ASK
Copyright © 2015 Trulia, Inc. All rights reserved.   |  
Have a question? Visit our Help Center to find the answer