Buying a house is an undoubtedly exciting experience, but it can also be a bit confusing and a bit overwhelming at times. Between the endless paperwork, prequalifying for loans, arranging showings, and all the other aspects of the house hunting process, it’s easy to overlook questions that you should be asking about every property you evaluate. Keeping a list with you at all times is a good way to stay focused on all of the important questions--big and small--that should be answered before making what is sure to be one of the largest purchases of your life.
Below are the top 10 features that potential buyers often forget to ask about prior to purchasing a home:
1. The Roof
All too often, homebuyers visit properties and simply look at the visual condition of the roof to tell them if it’s in good shape. This can prove disastrous, as there are instances in which a roof may appear structurally sound but is in need of repair. Start by finding out the age of the roof, then gather details about the roof’s materials and any recent maintenance the roof has undergone. Having to unexpectedly shell out between $3,000 and $12,000 on a new roof right after you purchase a home can turn home sweet home into broke sweet broke. T
2. The Plumbing
Be sure to find out what material the pipes are made of and when the last sewer inspection was. You should also test the garbage disposal and check all the toilets in the house for leakage around the bases. Along with an appraisal, hiring a plumber to perform a camera inspection on any property you are contemplating is something to seriously consider.
3. The Water Tank
It can be a disappointment when you buy an upgraded, home to find that the small, rusty water heater can only supply hot water for a measly 10 minutes at a time. Ensure that the water heater in any house you are contemplating is not only newer, but also large enough to meet the needs of your entire household.
4. The Sewer
A thorough sewer inspection by an experienced professional could save you up to $25k in repairs. A standard home inspection doesn’t include an in-depth evaluation of the home’s draining systems. A professional will use a specialized scope to travel through the sewer line of the house to determine if there is worrisome deterioration or damage.
5. Utility Costs
When buying a home, many people consider the expenses of the monthly mortgage payments, insurance and taxes. However, utility costs can dramatically vary when moving from one home to the next, whether due to the size of the home or climate factors. Ask for a year or more’s worth of utility bills from the owner before making an offer on any property.
6. The Garage
In the age of the SUV, it’s never a sure bet that a garage will be large enough for your vehicle. Know your cars’ exact heights and widths to ensure a comfortable fit, keeping in mind that you may also want to use some garage space for storage or an outdoor work area.
7. The Attic
Touring a house isn’t just about checking the size of the rooms and determining if the landscaping is visually appealing. Taking a look at the less visible aspects of the house is extremely important. Always have a professional inspect the attic of any home you’re considering, both to check for the quality of the insulation as well as the structural integrity of the space. It’s also an opportunity to look for signs of vermin.
8. Storage Space
A home may look big enough when your real estate agent shows it, but what happens when you move in with all of your extra linens and towels, cleaning devices and products, holiday decorations, bicycles, and other items that need storage space? Take an inventory of the available storage space you have in your current home and match it foot-for-foot in the new house, then make sure there is extra on top of that to accommodate stuff you haven’t even thought of yet that will inevitably need space too.
9. The Neighbors
All too often, people buy their dream home only to find that the neighbors living on either side of them aren’t exactly The Cleavers. Try and get a sense of the neighbors prior to purchasing. A great way to do this is to ask the owner directly if they are present at the showing. Become a sleuth and study their facial expressions when speaking about their neighbor. Do you think they really like their neighbor? You can also take a stroll through the neighborhood and ask someone outside.
10. The Neighborhood
Once you do your neighbor research, it’s time for your neighborhood research. Walk and drive through the neighborhood at different times of day, especially at its most lively – just after work before dinner. Also, check if there are grocery stores, hospitals, schools and restaurants nearby. Location is the single thing about any house that you can’t change, so make sure you love where you’ll be living as much as you love the house you’ll be living in.
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