5 Things to look for when buying a house

by Sundaybell on August 8, 2011


Handing Over the Keys

Buying a house can be a tricky business!

Ah…buying a house…it’s something almost all of us dream about doing one day. Something to call my own, my little bit of land – cue the cheesy music please and make way for the deer and the antelope too. But what’s this? The music has ground to a halt and Bambi’s been replaced by a large bald man waving a piece of paper at me that reads: CAVEAT EMPTOR or, for those of you whose Latin stops with Ave Maria, BUYER BEWARE. Because buying a house isn’t exactly easy and when looking at properties, there are a few things you should look out for.

1. Location

This is one of the top things to look at when buying a house. Take into consideration the type of lifestyle you want to lead: city or suburban for example. Some important factors include:

  • Is it close to your place of work and if not, then to a highway?
  • Got kids? Are there suitable schools nearby and parks where they can play?
  • Is there shopping close by?
  • Near to public transport?
  • And finally, the neighborhood itself: are property values climbing? If not, you may want to reconsider.

Depending upon your needs and wants, sometimes that “perfect home” is located in an area, which makes it…well…not so perfect after all.

2. Size

Think about this a little before you answer – how much space is enough? I know, for some it’s like saying how much money is enough and we all know the answer to that! But when you’re buying a house, this is a far more important question than you might believe. For example, you may be only considering a 2 bedroom home for the two of you, because you don’t want kids and only need a spare room for the dreaded in-law visits (note to self: buy Mom-in-law flowers on way home from work). However, what happens a couple of years down the road when you’ve changed your minds? Suddenly you find that the house you thought was just right turns out to be just wrong. So make sure you plan for the future.

3. Structural and system issues

This is a very, very important point to consider when buying a house. Sure, it’s a beautiful house and wow, check out how big that bathroom is! But wow, also check out how big that patch of mold on the bathroom wall is! Things like mold, cracks in the foundation, water damage and electrical or plumbing problems (including heating or air-conditioning) are all red flags that you need to look into before even considering buying that house.

4. Finishes and materials

Once again, this is something that you need to look at very carefully and can be divided into 2 categories: outdoor and indoor.

  • Outdoor: things to look out for include:
    • Check the condition of the roof because replacing or repairing it can be very expensive
    • Examine the gutters; do they need replacing?
    • In what condition are the windows? Harsh winters mean lots of wear and tear, which translates into more costs
    • Indoor: among the points to address here are:
      • Are there value-added features such as granite instead of laminate counters?
      • What type of flooring has been put in, vinyl or hardwood?
      • How new are the kitchen appliances and what about the bathroom fittings?

If you’re not careful, you could find yourself paying out thousands of dollars in unforeseen repairs or renovation.

5. Marketability

Let’s face it; most of us aren’t going to spend the rest of our lives in the first home that we buy (except for cousin Charles, but this is an article about buying a house, not psychology). Therefore, when looking at potential homes, you need to…deep breath…take the emotion out of it and view it realistically (if you’re male, married and reading this, I hear you, buddy, I hear you). The fact of the matter is, your home is also an investment and someday you’re probably going to sell it and move on. And when you do, you want to make sure that you get a quick and profitable sale. That’s why it’s important to consider how desirable the property you’re looking at would be to others. The help of a good real estate agent can be invaluable here.

Watch this video to get an expert’s opinion on some factors to consider when buying a house:

Buying a house is a big decision and not one to be taken lightly. However, being prepared and knowing what to look for can help make the whole process somewhat easier.

For those of you who’ve bought a house, what are the kinds of things that you looked out for? And what advice would you give first-time homebuyers? Don’t be shy; share your knowledge with us!


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