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House Hunting Checklist

7 things to check out when looking at a home

A home is a huge investment. For most people, it's the biggest and most expensive thing they'll ever buy. So, why would you ever sign a contract on an enormous item if you're not sure all its parts are working correctly?

Shyness, awkwardness, call it what you will, but it can feel weird to poke around in someone else's home ... especially if they're still living there. Opening cupboards, lifting toilet seats — it feels like you're intruding. But, this is no time to be shy.

Ellie Mae put together the following list items you should check when visiting a home you may want to purchase. Before you make an offer and start shelling out cash for inspections, or putting down nonrefundable earnest money, check out these simple things to make a house you're interested in won’t require more work than you're prepared to take on.

Check the water pressure.

Not just in the kitchen sink, but the bathroom sink, toilet, bathtub, and shower.
Low water pressure is a sign of bad plumbing.

Lift every rug.

Is that rug hiding something? The floor could be stained, warped, or even rotting!
A warped floor is very serious. It can indicate the room has been flooded in the past or there's a leak under the floor.

Delve into the closets and cupboards.

More than clutter could be hiding in that closet. If the owners have left items in storage areas, move them aside. Too much to move? Ask your real estate agent to arrange another showing after the owners remove their belongings. Same for the garage, attic, basement, and any outbuildings.
You'll want to be sure the home has adequate storage space for all your belongings and note any damage that may be concealed behind piles of stuff.
Note: Make sure there's nothing piled against the house or any outbuildings as this could be hiding damages, flaws, and even pests.

Examine the windows, doors, and walls.

While an older house may have settled a bit, it's still not good to have a door you can't close all the way or a window that won't open. Cracks in the walls could be caused by normal settling or the result of a house being empty for a while with no climate controls — but it may be more serious.
If the home has "settled" so much that doors are sticking, or cracks are large, irregular, or diagonal, there may be a structural issue. You will need to consult an expert to determine the cause and whether it's easily fixable.
Note: Hairline cracks near windows and doors are generally not a big issue and can be taped and painted.

Use your sniffer.

Smell anything musty? How about pet odors? Were the owners heavy smokers? Check that the fans over the stove and in the bathrooms work.
A musty smell could indicate water damage. Cigarette smoke and animal urine are powerful odors that can soak into the floors and walls. Getting those smells out can be a nightmare — or impossible.

Look for signs of water damage.

This is an especially important issue you need to investigate. Discoloration on ceilings and walls, bubbling paint, rusted metal items, and mold spots all indicate problems. Yes, you should check every cabinet. Pay extra close attention to basement walls and cabinets under sinks.
Water damage can be expensive and difficult to repair and may involve demolishing and rebuilding walls. Watermarks near appliances that use water or in the basement can indicate poor plumbing — another costly issue to address.

Meet the neighbors.

Having good or bad neighbors makes a huge difference on how happy you'll be in your new home. In some locations, meeting the neighbors beforehand could be a bit of a challenge, but try to drive by at different times of day and on different days to check out the neighborhood.
Is there a school or church nearby? Street parking could be a nightmare at drop-off and pickup times and during services. Are there neighbors throwing wild parties? How is the traffic flow during rush hours? You'll want to know the answers to these questions before making your final decision.

You can save yourself time, headache, and buyer's remorse by taking the time to thoroughly inspect a property before you make an offer. Our FIBT Mortgage Lenders are happy to help guide you through the home buying process. Contact a lender near you today to get pre-qualified for your next home loan.

Mortgage, Personal Banking