Buying a home means making a long-term commitment. It’s a valuable investment of both time, money and sometimes nerves.

You may already have a list of must-haves that you will look for when you go out house hunting, but there are also some other things that you may be overseeing.

These “other” things can make or break a deal and are often just as important as your must-haves.

So, to avoid overlooking an important feature or forgetting to inspect it, today we will be going over some of the “other” things you need to look out for when buying a home.   

THE NEIGHBOURHOOD

Although this is one of the basic criteria most people look for in a house, it’s not just the overall outlook of the neighbourhood that matters. Some of the other things you should pay attention to are:

  • The presence and quality of nearby schools – Needless to say, if you’re a young family or planning to start a family soon, good schools should be the number one priority for you. Depending on the children’s age, inform yourself about the type of education the schools offer and what the ranks of those schools are.
  • Proximity to amenities (libraries, parks, grocery stores, sports facilities) – Let be honest, the whole experience of living in your dream home can be completely ruined if you’re completely cut off of everything. Having to walk or drive for hours in a day just to get milk would be more than annoying for many, so if you’re not willing to do that, make sure to buy a house that is close to everything you need.
  • Walkability and/or bike-ability – Bike enthusiasts love to go around everywhere on their bikes, that’s a fact. If you’re one of them, then well planned and detailed bike trails and tracks should be at the top of your priority list. Moving alongside busy roads can be a real pain and completely ruin the excitement of moving into your new home.
  • Pet-friendliness – many neighborhoods are not pet-friendly and don’t have a pet or off-leash parks nearby. This means that you’d have to walk or drive for miles until you find a place where your furry friend can roam free, wasting a lot of your valuable time. While you’re inspecting the neighborhood on the way, look around to see if you will see some pet owners walking around, parks with pets or signs directing you towards them.
  • Noise – if you’re near a restaurant, bar or a club that gets rowdy during the night, you won’t be able to catch that beauty sleep we all need and it’s needless to say that this is a deal-breaker for so many people. To avoid making the mistake of buying a property where you’d have to deal with annoying noises constantly, make sure to inspect the area on your way to the house tour.

DETERIORATING STRUCTURE AND MECHANICALS OF A PROPERTY

You may be fooled by the freshly painted walls and new windows and think the property is in good shape, renovated and well kept, but what you can never know what is behind those walls.

Some major damage may be hiding behind them, damage that will bring expensive and time-consuming repairs in the future.

With that in mind, there are several ways to inspect the property’s structure and mechanicals without having to actually look behind the walls:

  • Sewage and water systems – water damage can be easily detected through the sidings overhang on the roof as well as the gutters of the home. This is where you can see if there could be any potential leaks or floods, things that you would want to avoid.
  • Old and run-down roof – A traditional shingle roof is replaced every 20 to 25 years and can cost more than $8,000, so we can safely call it a lifetime investment as well. As such, it’s one of the most expensive things to replace or repair in a property which is why the first thing most house hunters inspect before even entering the property, is the roof. You don’t want to be stuck with additional roof repairment costs just after you’ve spent so much on purchasing the house.
  • Old electricity installation – Old electrical installations are not only expensive to maintain but also highly risky. There may be exposed electrical connections or a lack of high-amp outlets with enough voltage to sustain newer fridge and stove models which can pose a safety threat. So consider hiring an electrician to help you with fixing or updating the current electrical installation, if you’re inexperienced with it.  

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

Construction companies and homeowners are keeping up with the trend of energy-efficient ways of living, turning homes into Energy-Star heavens.

However, properties built in the past were not built with this intent as the ones being built today. Many of them have old electricity, installations, and appliances that spend tons of electricity and gas, along with it, your money as well.

Let’s face it, paying high utility bills is no one’s favorite thing to do at any point in time, which is why energy-efficient houses are such a major hit.

You may think that energy efficiency refers only to the appliances in the house, but this is not true. There are many ways that a house can be energy efficient, going far beyond the appliances, and you can do a personal inspection of these things. In that regards, keep an eye out for:

  • Air leaks – Reducing the drafts in the home can save between 10% to 20% energy, so check for indoor air leaks, leaks between building fixtures and leaks from windows, doors, lighting and plumbing fixtures, switches, and electrical outlets.
  • Bad Insulation – If your home doesn’t have good insulation, your future utility bills will be too high for your liking. Make sure to check the condition of the insulation so you can save on heating and cooling costs throughout the year.
  • Bad ventilation – An unpleasant appearance that can happen due to bad ventilation is “back-drafting”. Back drafting happens when appliances such as furnaces, hot water heaters, fires or fire stoves and exhaust fans such as the bathroom fan or the stove fan compete for air. Then, your exhaust fan may drag combustion gases back within the home and completely pollute the air. This is why it’s crucial to have updated ventilation systems that are capable of purifying the air without wasting too much energy during the process.

HIGH OWNERSHIP TURNOVER

Two generation family looking at a house for sale

Job applicants often get doubted and refused if they’ve shown a habit of changing jobs too often, and you should similarly approach houses.

If the home you intend on buying has had 10 different owners in the past 3 years, then something is not right here. Why did so many people leave? Was the problem that un-fixable that the only solution was selling the house and moving away?

While you cannot know the underlying issues your property may have before taking ownership of it, some of the potential reasons previous homeowners have left may be:           

  • High crime rates in the neighborhood
  • Unpleasant neighbors/disputes with neighbors
  • Structural problems with the property
  • Unpredictable costs
  • Incompatible lifestyle with the neighborhood
  • No parking/parking issues

Most cities have publicly available information on the average length of ownership of a home and you can check the titles and deeds of the house to see the previous owners.

You can then compare the information and see if the ownership turnover is on a reasonable level.

In Conclusion

In the end, finding a home that will meet all your needs and desires while still being in your budget is difficult, which is why it’s crucial to enter the home-searching process with an open mind and a well-thought-out plan.

Of course, making some compromises along the way will be necessary, but hopefully, in the end, you will find something that is in the middle of your must-haves and your budget.