Are you in the Market for a New Home?
If so, then it’s a good idea to find yourself a buyer’s agent. A buyer’s agent will always look out for your best interests and will provide you with the most up-to-date information about homes that fit your criteria. However, you’ll still want to be sure to ask the right questions and take the right precautions while attending an open house, let alone making an offer to purchase. If you play your cards rights, an open house can tell you a lot more about a property than its floor plan or what the current residents consider to be “clean”. The key is asking the right questions, or making sure your agent is asking them for you.
To help you determine if the house you are viewing has the potential to become your home; here are some items (exterior and interior) you should be asking questions about….
Roof: A leaky chimney can cause all types of problems, which can be costly to repair. Leaks around the chimney are not always evident right away, but they can cause serious structural damage if ignored. When moisture enters the roofing, attic, and possibly the ceiling areas, it causes wood rot, roof damage and dry wall damage. Therefore you’ll want to ask; if/ when the roof was replaced, what kind of shingles are on the roof and how many layers of shingles. You’ll also want to look for flashing around the chimney if there is one.
Gutters: Where the downpipes are located, where they drain to, and how far away they drain from the home (should be about 4-5 feet depending on drainage and terrain).
Foundation: What kind of material is used (stone, block, poured concrete)? Look for wetness, discoloration on the foundation walls, as well as any support beams that might indicate previous standing water. Also look to see how straight the walls are; there should not be any bowing or movement.
Plumbing: (in basement, under sinks in kitchen and bathroom) check the water pressure; look for discoloration from minerals in the water (“hard” water), look for wetness or dampness, leaks.
Heating: You’ll want to know the energy source for the heating system and how long ago it was installed. You might even be able to find out the sellers’ average monthly heating cost. During the home inspection they should test the heat output to make sure the entire house is getting heat and there are no blockages. Check for multiple thermostats and whether the home is split into zones for individual temperature control.
Electrical: Make sure you know where the circuit breakers are located; you’ll want at least 150 to 200 amps. The electrical box should be neat and the wires should be in good condition (no fraying, striped wires, etc.). Also, there should be electrical collars (little fittings that keep the wire from shifting) at the entrance of each and every wire to the box (not necessarily a big deal, but it indicates poor work and potential electrical problems)
Floors and Ceilings: Check ceilings for water marks or discoloration. Check floors for bowing or movement as you walk (indicates poor support from the floor below). Ask if/when the floors were replaced?
Doors and Windows: Check windows and doors, specifically how well they seal to the outside. Even though a door may close, it may not seal tight enough to keep your heat inside and the cold air out.
***Other things to consider are gas/oil leases for the property, and any right-of-ways on the property or to get to the property. You’ll also want to check ceiling heights on each level and in the basement, as well as door heights and widths.