You can put lipstick on a pig…
In other words, you can make a house look nice and shiny, but you cannot fool homebuyers who are savvy enough to see through the cosmetics and look for what makes a good quality home purchase. So what are those indicators we speak of? Below is a list of the 5 main things you should be looking at when considering a home.
Replacing the roof of a home is a huge expense, so you should have a grasp on what you’re working with when looking at listings. This is something you can take a look at before even entering the home. Look closely at the roof and note whether it appears to be in good shape. Walk around the entire exterior of the home and inspect if the roof sagging or damaged in any place. Also, ask what material is the roof made out of. Some roofs are made to last longer than others. If you have any questions or confusion, don’t hesitate to take a few photographs and ask an expert their opinion. Below is a cheat sheet on roof types and how long they typically last. Use it as a guide when looking at potential homes. If you’ll have to replace the roof within a couple of years, that’s something substantial to consider when negotiating an offer.
Composition Shingles – 12-20 years
Asphalt Shingles – 15-30 years
Wood Shingles – 20-25 years
Rubber – 30-50 years
Metal – 50-75 years
A well-maintained H-VAC should last at least 15 years. Go ahead and ask how old the unit is so you have a grasp on what you’re working with, but don’t stop there. Take a walk around the unit and see what type of shape it’s in. Does it look like it’s been taken care of? Look for rust, dents or water stains, as these can all indicate a poorly kept unit. Also, pay attention to foliage and shrubs around the H-VAC. They should all be cut back and well away from the machine. It’s not a bad idea to request maintenance records from the seller and/or ask if you can turn on the machine to listen for any weird noises. It may seem like overkill but your energy bills can be significantly more if your system is old or not well maintained.
When touring kitchens and bathrooms, don’t stop at eye level. You can learn a lot about the quality of a home by taking a peek under sinks. You want to make sure the house has good plumbing in place. This means inspecting all pipes and making sure there is no leaking or water damage. Bad pipes can also lead to mold, which can become a health hazard. The last thing you’ll want is to have to leave your home while mold or water damage is eradicated. Stay ahead of this by simply looking under all sinks and asking about the quality of the pipes.
4. Floors & Walls
A home needs good “bones” for it to be worth your while. This means checking to make sure the home is structurally sound. Look closely at the floors and walls. Floors should not be uneven, sagging or cave in at any place. This could be an indicator of a bad foundation or poor plumbing. Both problems would be extremely pricey to fix. Also, examine the walls carefully for any cracks. Look especially closely at brick walls and up in ceiling corners. Vertical cracks are typically less serious and can mean minor cosmetic damage has occurred. However, cracks that are horizontal should be taken seriously. This can signal a shift in the foundation or water damage. Both issues can only worsen with time and are very expensive to have repaired.
5. Surrounding Land
Before leaving the home, it is a good idea to take in the outdoor surroundings and ask yourself a few important questions. Is the area prone to wildfires, flooding or other natural disasters? How close are the neighbors’ homes and are the yards nicely kept? Sometimes homebuyers make the mistake of not noticing “shared spaces” within neighborhoods until it is too late. Is there a fence and, if not, will you need one to feel comfortable? Putting up a new fence can be costly and time-consuming. If you can avoid this extra project, you should try. How tough will the yard and gardens be to manage? A complicated landscape can make the difference in devoting a couple minutes versus a couple hours on weekends. Lastly, are you near any busy roads or noisy areas? Just take a moment to stop, look, listen, smell and take it all completely in. Can you imagine yourself there?
When looking for the next place you’ll call home, it’s crucial to not let yourself get swept up in the nonessentials (as much fun as those things can be). Remember that walls can be painted, cabinets updated and furniture rearranged. Knowing what makes a home a good quality buy can make thousands of dollars worth of difference down the line. Do your research and ask experts to guide you. You’ll thank yourself later.
Speaking of experts in home buying, Southern Trust Mortgage is proud to have a team of experienced mortgage professionals dedicated to making the home buying process stress-free and streamlined for you and your family. Get started today on your homeownership journey with us!