When looking at homes it’s very easy to get distracted by really stylish staging, cute family photos, or a playful family pet. Sometimes you walk out of the house and can’t remember if there was laundry room, where the guest bath was, or what kind of windows it had. Here are the top 5 basic things you need to consider so you can quickly decide if the home works for you, or move on to the next listing and not have any regrets.
1) Location and Neighborhood
No matter what type of home you buy you can’t change its location. That’s why you need to be happy with the location and neighborhood first and foremost. Even if the home itself is perfect, you will never truly love it if you’re in the wrong location for your needs and lifestyle.
Things to consider: convenience to work or school; public transportation options; grocery shopping and restaurant proximity; distance to medical and emergency facilities; noise and traffic level day and night; green space or yard; walkability; and the charm, safety and tidiness of the neighborhood. What’s most important to you?
2) Size and Floor Plan
Unless you plan to renovate, you don’t want to buy a home that doesn’t provide the size or layout for what you and your family really need. Is this home even practical for you?! Decide how many bedrooms and bathrooms you truly need. Is the kitchen and eating area workable for making and enjoying meals? Do you need extra office/ study space. What about space for a big screen TV if that’s on your must-have list? How about an easy indoor-outdoor flow, especially if you like to entertain on a patio or have kids who want to play in the yard.
Don’t fall in love with a cozy cottage if it doesn’t have the space. Buyers can be fooled by smaller furniture that can make a room look larger. On the flip side, a home too large for your family can be expensive to heat, furnish, and maintain. Really evaluate your needs BEFORE you go house hunting, so you know immediately if a home’s size and floorplan works for you.
3) Closet and Storage Space
Not having enough closet or storage space can make living in a home a constant battle over stuff – that you may never win! When looking at homes imagine where you’ll store sports equipment, seasonal clothing and gear (camping, snowboarding), holiday decorations, craft supplies, books, toys, linens, coats, pet supplies, vacuum cleaner etc. Don’t forget to look at cabinet space in the kitchen and bathrooms – is it adequate?
Remember, storage space affects the ease of your day-to-day life for you and your family. Sometimes you can make a home work for you with some imagination. You can redesign a bedroom closet to make it more efficient if it doesn’t come with a large walk-in closet (no one wants to pare down their shoes!). Or you can have built-ins that don’t take up too much floor space in an entrance way if you don’t have a mud room. Be honest with yourself about closet and storage space – can you really live in this home with all of your stuff?
4) Natural Light
It’s easy to overlook natural light when first looking at homes when you’re so focused on space and the number of rooms. However, it does make a big difference in how a home feels so don’t skip this consideration! Look for a home with good-sized windows that are well placed throughout. Most people don’t want a dark and dreary home.
Keep in mind that where a home is positioned affects how much natural light it gets and can influence heating and cooling bills as well. A south-facing home will maximize natural light. If you really like a home, it’s good to visit it at a different time of day to see how much natural light it gets.
5) Hidden Issues – Mold, Foundation, Roof
You can avoid wasting time on a home if you look for “hidden” signs when first viewing it. Be on the lookout for mold, mildew, water damage, and cracks in the foundation. A home that appears well-maintained and cared for will most likely have fewer problems, but you still need to have a home inspection no matter what!
Remember, don’t be swayed by gorgeous paint colors or the décor of a home – you want a structurally sound home with few “hidden” issues. Does the roof need to be repaired or replaced? Mold can be a serious health hazard so be aware of foul smells. If a room seems damp, it may have significant water issues that don’t just go away. What’s the outside drainage like? Are the windows old? All of these issues will take up time and add costs to buying and living in this home. Even if a home is perfect in terms of size and location, “hidden” issues can make it a nightmare.
One way to find hidden issues is with a good home inspector, which I can recommend. Do know though, that a home inspection is just a snapshot in time. If it hasn’t rained for months, it’s going to be tough to know whether there’s a new leak you might have to fix when the rain does start back up again.
That said, homes leave clues and you, the home inspector and I will do our best together to solve any mysteries we can.
These are just some of the basics to think about that many of my clients overlook at first and need to be reminded about, so I wanted to remind you too. Everyone’s situation and needs are very different, so you may need to consider even more than these top 5 things I’ve mentioned here.
Let me know YOUR specific needs so I can help find you the perfect home!
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