in Misc [LPT Request] When house hunting for the first time, what are some things to watch out for that may not be obvious? |tti by Ytima August 13, 2017, 10:15 pm 103 Comments [LPT Request] When house hunting for the first time, what are some things to watch out for that may not be obvious? Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window) Related househuntingLPTObviousrequesttimeTTIWatch See more Previous article What would have been popular subreddits in the 1700s? |TTI Next article When they announce discovery of a new breed of bird or fish or whatever, are they always meaning “Never before discovered” or does it sometimes mean a new crossbread from previous breeds/types? |TTI 103 Comments Leave a Reply Mold anywhere, moist areas, number and type of electrical outlets, type of Windows, age of all appliances, was the house built using cheap materials or good ones, flooding areas outside, age and height of nearby trees, and anything that is old, outdated, or antiquated that will need to be replaced. Reply Check the area on VRBO and Airbnb for short term rentals. I live in Austin and bought a house this year that is next to a short term rental. Every weekend a new group of bros shows up ready to partaay. Reply Go house hunting after it rains. You’ll see how bad things can get (anywhere puddles are, they leave the leaves/dirt) You also should see the area during the evening, like thurs/fri/sat around 6-7pm. Look out for shitty hoa fees. Reply Get a good inspector he will look for this in more details. You won’t be able to get to all the places with potential mold or electrical problems he/she would. Here or somethings you can look at a glance when out looking for houses. Big ticket items: Look at the roof for dips or warping. Those are signs it would need to be replaced soon. Look at the vents for dirt or dust (I am Texas). Those are signed the AC Unit filters have not been replaced frequently. Look outside for cracks on the base of the house. Signs of foundation problems. Your preferences: Look at your potential neighbors houses, cars and amount of parking. (visit the house at the different times of the days and different days of the week) this is the neighborhood you will live in. Look at which stores are around you grocery stores, home improvement stores etc. This is where you’ll be shopping Look at the road for pot holes, see if you’ll have a side walk. This is where you’ll be driving and walking. Happy house hunting! Reply Look OUTSIDE at the foundation – patch color, cracks are a nono Look at the Ceilings in closets – usually not fresh paint so you can see leak evidence Look at the shingles – if they are wavy or discolored you have a huge reroofing bill ahead Check the circuit breaker – if every slot is used, you can’t do any major renovation (ie adding appluances etc) without a huge electrician bill Also if there is a strong scent of air freshener beware- they may be trying to cover up a mysterious foul odor that lingers Reply Shitty realtors. She’s bringing you to houses you don’t like or are outside of your area and she says “Oh this house is charming, you’ll love it.” About every house. She only shows houses that are at your price limit. You don’t get to see the inside of houses. They don’t know the details on every house they are selling. They don’t let you look around, or target one of you (spouse) and try to leverage that angle. They make promises and back out of them. They say yes to everything. Reply Get a home inspection from an Independent Inspector, not the one your realtor recommends. The realtor’s inspector may whitewash his report since, he relies on that realtor for work. You might get a fair assessment. You might get screwed and stuck with $10’s of thousands in repairs. If you’re seriously considering a house, visit it several days during the week and, at varying times. Try to get a feel for what that neighborhood is like when school starts/gets out and, when you’re home and trying to relax. Reply When hunting for wild houses, it is a good idea to bring more arrows than you think you will need. Many grown houses have a thick outer shell that will require many arrows to break. It is also a good idea to hunt in groups, surrounding the house and preventing it from fleeing, while a second group use spears or bows. Now that you have hunted a house, you will need to think about how to transport it. If you have a team of people, you can break up the house and have pieces carried by everyone, but if you are alone you will need to take multiple trips to and from the house. Good luck hunting houses! Reply Hire a good inspector and a good attorney, if you hire cheap you’ll end up paying more in the long run. You aren’t going to know everything if you haven’t bought a home before. Rely on friends and family for advice, but take it with a grain of salt obviously. They can point you in the right direction and ask questions you didn’t think of (is there a permit for the second story bathroom?), but sometimes the advice is too far removed. One person told me to back out of a deal after i already spent thousands and invested a month of time into, over a $500 repair the seller wouldn’t do. One thing i wish i did was take pictures of everything the first time i looked at a home. That way when someone brought up a good question later on (how many circuits are in the fuse box? How is the deck supported to the house?) I could answer it. Reply Check the points where two pieces of molding meet. Are there gaps? Often when I see little things like this I find that the builders cut corners in other areas where you can’t see. Like the tub overflow valve not being properly connected. I’ve seen that happen twice. On old houses check that the dryer vents work. Squirrels seem to love getting in and ripping those apart so it vents into the walls. Do all the windows open or are some stuck? Any signs of water damage on the ceilings even if it’s been repaired? Ask how old the roof/water heater/HVAC are, those are big ticket items. Whirlpool tub? Check the jets work and don’t shoot out grossness. Seen that happen with both whirlpool tubs I’ve owned. Reply Check the commute traffic during the time you’ll be traveling to and from work. Reply Definitely get an inspection for all the basics & hidden issues. Also check for noise levels–different times of day; how much sound carries into the house (jets, traffic, trash trucks, kids); how much noise the dishwasher, icemaker, garage door, and furnace/AC blower make; how many little repairs are instantly necessary–thet add up & may have been neglected because their are bigger problems preventing their easy completion; orientation to the sun–do you love a north-facing cave in winter? A sunbaked sauna on summer afternoons? What will it take to compensate for it until you are comfortable–full-spectrum lights, blackout shades, room heater/AC? Reply If the power is still on in the house, bring your charger and plug up your phone in every outlet to make sure they work and find a way to look in the attic (even if you have to get a tall ladder and look through the vents). We discovered that the owner had done a horrible electric job in the attic. How did we discover this? Well, tried to plug up a baby monitor and discovered that outlets weren’t working in some of the bedrooms. We figured the wires were old and needed replacing. We needed attic access for this. We were already planning to install attic access for storage anyways (the owner had sealed the other up), so it wasn’t an issue. After installing access, husband discovered bare wires plugged directly into outlets and no insulation. Thankfully we were able to make repairs ourselves and save money because husband had experience doing electrical work. He fixed the wires and we both spent a few hours putting down insulation. I guess the inspector missed this because he could not access the attic at the time. Reply Check out the house while wearing sandals and shorts. If there are fleas, even a little, you will know. Reply This is probably the dumbest thing ever but we made this mistake on our first house so, I’ll share. Measure your furniture and check it against the layout of the rooms for functional space. We loved the look and finishes in the home but didn’t realize the layout was kinda goofy. For example in our master bedroom, due to where the wall closets, windows & doors were situated, we could never put our furniture in ideal layout. It’s one of those things that isn’t the end of the world but still pretty annoying! Reply Noise!!! Check for it at various times of day and night on weekdays and weekends before you buy. If you are ANYWHERE near a school check out the noise while in session from playground etc., .. Trains,…… Traffic…. Airport noise. Neighbors who bump hip hop late on Friday nights… A guy who lives behind you who fixes lawnmowers etc. Reply Go on rainy days. Home inspector is very important. Any flight path overhead? Is your road used by construction or delivery company? Check zoning versus your plans for the property. Does the road flood? Is electric service buried or pole? Check cell service with different providers. Look up the neighboring addresses police service calls. Any criminal records? Sex offender registery Reply Age of the A/C unit. Reply Not something to check for, but something to include in the purchase: a home warranty. We bought our house with one and have continued to renew it. For about $3000 we’ve replaced the AC unit, disposal, a leak stain in the ceiling, and the hot water heater. We’re about to replace the other AC unit for another $2800, which all sounds like a lot but it’s not at all for what they each usually cost! Reply Don’t just look at the house. Look at the neighborhood. Is it on the way up, the way down or stable? Are the surrounding houses well-maintained? Curb appeal applies not only to your house, but your whole block … sometimes the whole neighborhood. Are the streets and curbs in good shape? Are there sidewalks? Are the stop signs and lights in place and working? Do you have kids? Are kids’ toys seen in the backyards near yours? How far is it to the nearest grade school? The nearest middle school? The nearest shopping? Do the houses have bars on the windows and cameras? You’re not just buying a house, but the whole surrounding community. Reply Oh god, outlets. Never is enough. Also light switches! Have one room in the house I just bought with a switch located BEHIND THE FRIGGIN DOOR! Reply See how many bars your phone has in each room. Reply I heard this one at a CLE conference for real estate lawyers: find out the thickness of the subflooring. Apparently that’s been an area as of late where builders have been cheaping out. Makes no upfront difference, but it dramatically shortens the life of floor tiles (thinner wood = earlier warping/dipping). Also, be wary of your realtor. Their interest is basically get you into a house ASAP so they can move on to the next client. Sadly accurate: https://youtu.be/-Nc88_ZEfxg?t=9s Finding a decent lawyer helps in that regard, since their obligation is to you, but in either case, it helps to not lean too heavily on either. Reply I can’t stress enough you make sure your home inspector triple checks electrical wiring/outlets. It’s a fire hazard and expensive to fix. Plus super inconvenient when you can’t plug stuff in and get proper power in specific rooms. Reply Whether by yourself or with a friend, list of things that are important and stick to it. Don’t let the emotions of a new house supersede sound judgment. Shop a lot! Let excitement subside. When it’s not an emotional, but a logical decision, it will feel a lot better. Besides, longer shopping time means more savings. And all the other stuff people said! Also, from a land surveyor, take a long tape measure and measure between the fences and compare to the deed. If it’s off by, you would want to know. Good luck! Reply Location, location, location. You can fix or change anything about a house except that. The number one thing people say they dislike about their house is their commute to work. Think about the lifestyle you want and look for neighborhoods that fit that need. Reply Literally just bought my first house, we close on the 17th. I would say trust your realtor. Ours were amazing and went above and beyond. If you look at 5 different houses and they haven’t said 1 negative thing about any of them, I would personally look for a new realtor. Also, know that YOU ARE IN CHARGE! This is your money and this is your potential house, do not be afraid to speak up or call something out that seems weird. Go to all the inspections if you can make it, be involved. Reply Mold and Foundation issues are good things to test for. Paying money up front will save long term. Having nice sized eaves will also help protect from rain getting where it shouldn’t. Reply Flooding, neighbors, drainage, crime, infrastructure and future development Reply Check the AC filter. It is the most basic of household maintenance and if they didn’t routinely take care of that, chances are they didn’t do much of anything. Run water in all the sinks. If they drain slowly, run. Reply Look at every ceiling in the house for water spots this seems obvious but make sure you look carefully. Also look at the trim and baseboards I didn’t notice that one bedroom in my house had different baseboards until 3 years later when we put in wood floors. Check all of the water faucets inside and out to make sure they work properly as well. Look in floor vents to make sure that water doesn’t get in when it rains. Turn on any appliances that stay with the house to make sure they all work. Reply Drive your commute to and from the place to see how bad it’ll be regularly in traffic. Necessary in a big city (Atlanta) with minimal public transit Reply If it’s a new house look at the lines- how well the walls, ceilings, trim, grout lines, counters, corners etc “come together” and try to detect sloppy cuts and crooked angles. This might be the quickest way to detect a shitty builder since houses are built SO fast nowadays. Older house: has probably proven its integrity by the test of time. Your job here is to decide how much you need/want to improve to get it up to your desired standard. IN ALL CASES your home inspector should detect all the major shortcomings. Make sure you’re happy with his examination of the home. Regarding less tangible things, I will just list some ones I’ve picked up: Level of care (if the previous owners couldn’t care for simple items, what big things could they have neglected?) Direction the house faces + time of day and season (affects lighting and temp) Noise (time of day, airport, businesses, school) Likelihood of flood (live on a hill, save $) RESALE (economic trajectory of area, desirable location, views) Energy consumption: what’s the insulation/HVAC situation. I bought a house with large, old windows that don’t hold heat very well = winter is coming Reply Check for small but obvious clues — ant or roach traps, mouse traps? Home security system/bars on doors and windows? Obvious pet smells? Shitty paint jobs (may have been used as a rental, shoddy repair work) if there are fireplaces, find a chimney sweep to check those out to see a) if they are functional and b) if they are capped (prevent small animals in, large sparks going out). If there is evidence that the house is flipped, ask for receipts, appliance guides, etc on all appliances. If it is fenced, find out: was this due to dogs, or bad neighbors? Reply I bought a house a couple of years ago. In addition to having a great inspector, check your cell signal throughout the house. Turn on all the faucets and flush the toilets (to check water pressure). Talk to your neighbors. Find out if there is a neighborhood Facebook group (there usually is) and join. Read posts for the past year, especially the ones about utility/wifi/cable services. Check the commute times (Waze can help with this). If you’re near any kind of touristy area (I live near a lake and on route to the beach), check the traffic on weekends (around my house on summer Saturdays is a parking lot). Check the insulation in the attic. Reply If you’re going to a vacant house and the windows are open when going to view that’s a pretty good sign the place is damp. If it’s been damp proofed and replastered there should be a certificate so you can ask to see it. Check where TV ports are and think about if your furniture will fit. Check guttering and drainage. Check boiler has been serviced recently. Be heavy footed to you can hear or feel damage to the floor. Never offer the maximum you can afford straight away, or even the second time. If any extensions have been done recently check there was planning permission for it. Make sure you have a grand or 2 left after deposit, lawyers and estate agents are paid. Best of luck to you finding your new home 👍 Reply You can fix anything in your house, but shitty neighbors can be extremely hard to get rid of! Reply Bed bugs. Learn how to check and identify bed bugs. Nothings worse than moving in somewhere, and your stuff gets ruined because there’s bed bugs everywhere Reply One thing my boyfriend and I didn’t check for that bit us in the ass is insulation! The house didn’t have ANY in the attic and it was miserable until we were able to get it taken care of. It was all just such a pain, and all because we didn’t bother to check the attic… Reply Do a weekend night drive by, you can see if it’s a street full of party animals or quiet Reply I went through the house hunting process for the first time recently! The ‘after it rains’ thing Kitosaki mentioned is a great tip. Found water pooling up against the house (bad for the foundation) and some newish roof leaks that hadn’t stained the wood yet, so I likely wouldn’t have spotted them otherwise. Also, GO INTO THE ATTIC and bring a flashlight. I know it’s hot and dirty, but I saw so many things that were a game changer. Bring a mask if it’s an older home. Be wary of loose-fill vermiculite (sp?) insulation in older homes as it could contain asbestos. Evidence of major infestations and termite damage, water damage, structural issues like bowing support beams, major corrosion on ac units from prior roof leaks… you see SO much in an attic that you can’t see anywhere else because it’s all covered up in drywall. But still look at drywall! Cracks in drywall could indicate foundation issues, which could also mean problems with under-slab pipes. If it’s a brick home, look for gaps and cracks in the exterior facade. Very large trees close to the home almost guarantees foundation issues and a cracked driveway at some point. Drywall can be patched more convincingly than brick. Walk the perimeter of the house. Ideally you want to see a few inches of foundation above ground level. Check out the roof – are the shingles crumbling at the edges? how many layers of shingles are there? If you see a few, that means that the last roofing was done improperly, and instead of replacing deteriorated shingles they slapped more down on top. This adds a ton of weight to your roof, and most roofing companies charge more for addtl layers to tear down so your next replacement will be more costly. Keep an eye out for carpenter ants. They may or may not be making your home their main hangout, but it’s still good to watch for. And back to trees, are they healthy? Any signs of rot or pest damage? Big trees can do a lot of damage when they fall or drop a large branch. There was one property we looked at where a huge beautiful tree in the backyard was a big selling point for us. On closer inspection, the majority of the lower trunk was a spongy rotten mess, and it looked like issues went pretty high up the trunk. That would have either been costly home repairs, or – best case scenario – costly tree removal service, plus no big beautiful tree. Tldr: roof, foundation, attic, exterior walls, and big, potentially damaging trees. Reply -Make sure the house is wired with copper (not aluminum) -check to see if the drain to the road is pvc. If it’s clay pipe it usually will need to be replaced fairly soon. -Make sure concrete sidewalks and driveways aren’t sloped towards the house. Reply What the taxes are and internet availability! Reply Look in your neighbors yards and check Megan’s law! Reply If the prospective house is on septic…then for god sakes…get a full fledged septic tank and drain field inspection by a reputable company. The home inspectors have no good way to test these minus flushing the toilets a few times and making sure it doesn’t flood. And if the owner doesn’t know where the tank is. Or when it was last emptied. Then make them do it prior to purchase. We didn’t do this on our house. And had to have the root filled, over saturated drain field replaced. To the tune of $8k. And it’s not like that’s a good selling point…”4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, and you can flush your shit whenever here…” It would have been worth it for me to pay the $500 for the inspection. And then either had them fix it before purchase or negotiate the house price down. We love our house. But I would love $8k too…for the kitchen remodel…and the [insert next project]… Reply Not sure about your region but as a residential electrician I would say not to buy a house in a newer development. Some houses that are built now are built fast and cheap, we wired about 7 houses in Tacoma WA that were on one little lot and they built the houses for about 150 but are selling them for 315+. These houses took us about 2-3 days to wire and are framed poorly, cheap material, and we even saw urine on the bedroom floor after the framing stage yet before flooring.. I’m not saying all the houses are like this now, but a lot of the developments that we see are all cheap, fast, and overall just worse houses than ones that are built by a decent contractor not trying to just make 10 cheap houses for a quick buck Reply Check the roof, not sure where you’re buying or common types but look to see if there is cracked lead flashings. Are there clips keeping roof tiles on the roof and where does your downpipe connect to. All of these can cause damp. Reply You’re moving into a house, and I presume you aren’t a contractor or handy. That means you don’t really want to run into problems like bad roofs, old heaters, old water tanks, etc. The big guts have got to be relatively new. Make sure the wiring is modern as well. Pay the money to get these things inspected, and take heed of the suggestions given to you. If a suggestion is to raise the dirt around your foundation by 6″ with a 45 degree grade, do it. Don’t wait 5 years and run into a huge problem. Make sure you have enough yard as well. I didn’t think I needed more than a small plot of land when I bought my house, but then 2 kids showed up and I kick myself every day for not having at least 1/2 an acre. Second, make sure you can actually afford the house. This is not so obvious, but your bills are going to go dramatically up, much higher than the cost of a mortgage and an escrow. You’ll be putting in about 3% of your homes value per year in maintenance costs, and that’s before you even begin to think about renovations and remodeling. So if you buy a 160k home, your mortgage and escrow might only be 1200, but you’ll also need to save about 400 a month for repairs. Also remember you are going to need to buy a lot of things like lawnmowers, appliances, hoses, you might start throwing money at gardening, etc. That’s expensive. The rule of thumb is that you need to be able to put down 10%, be able to cover all of your closing costs and then make sure your mortgage and all the expenses that go with it don’t go over 25% of your takehome pay, and really you shouldn’t have anything longer than a 15 year mortgage. Finally, not very obvious to many, but once you set your roots down, it’s hard to get up and move. If you want to move, it will take months to sell a house and it will be years before you have enough equity to cover the closing costs on your end again. This is a commitment not to take lightly, and generally housing is no longer considered a sound investment in many parts of the country (Silicon Valley excepted). Reply Hire a certified inspector and do Not use one recommended by your realtor. Beware of staged properties. Staging hides flaws like a rug put over a damaged floor etc.Picture the place empty and check everything twice. Fully check the fireplace if applicable. Everything about it: foundation of it and its venting etc. Reply Visit after heavy rains and check in the basement/crawlspace for water infiltration. Reply Drive the neighborhood at night. It may look different than in the day. Reply Always ask “what is the method of wastewater disposal for this house/neighborhood.” Hopefully, it’s hooked up to the city, but if not, make sure to check local regulations regarding lagoons or septic systems. You don’t want to be stuck with an out of compliance system and be left to foot the bill to replace it. Reply If you are in a snowy climate look at the roofs of the house and surrounding houses. If there is snow on all the other houses but the one your looking at you most likely have a major heat lose issue. This site can help for some cities in Alberta Canada(but you can vote for your city), it uses satalite imaging to creat a heat map of a neighborhood. https://myheat.ca Grade of the lawn and alley if you have a detached garage. A bad grade will direct water into the garage or house. Condition of trees in the yard that could have broken branches from previous windy conditions. Pipes, wires, or anything on the outside of the home that can’t be explained (we had a jr electrician put our AC wire on the side of the house instead of the back). Reply -Check to see what’s available for internet access (and other utilities) before making your final decision. -Ask for utility bill records going back as far as possible. You can better estimate your monthly expenses in addition to the new mortgage and insurance, and might learn about problematic systems or issues. For example, if the heating bill is higher than expected, it might be related to a worn/inefficient heating system or inadequate/poorly installed insulation. -Check to make sure the house is not on or very near a floodplain, you could get stuck paying an astronomic amount for flood insurance. -Try to retain as much information as possible about house types, methods and materials of construction, heating and cooling systems, and sewerage. Even if you’re not interested in fixing these things yourself, a little knowledge can help prevent you from getting ripped off in the future. -Make sure your home inspector tests EVERYTHING, especially the climate control systems not currently in use due to the season. Reply Flood plain information and the direction in which rainwater rolls, along with location of runoff ditches. And don’t assume because you’re on a hill you can’t get flooded. It really, really depends on the specifics of the location, which you should make a point of finding out before you sign a contract. Reply Furniture placement positions. Places for the electronics (TV positioning). Window placement vs TV placement. (Nothing is worse than having having a glare from the sun on the TV). How many outlets, and OUTLET POSITIONING. And Most importantly, is quality internet available? Reply Cheap Reno work. Like baseboards hastily installed with no caulk between them and the wall. Oh and make sure ceiling fans work Reply If it is a first home, look at the schools in the area. You might not give the slightest shit yet, but in a few years it might become crucially important to you. Reply Talk to your potential neighbour’s neighbours and ask about your neighbours-to-be. This is especially important if your house is attached (semi or town) – ask about loud bassy music. Reply If the flooring is installed correctly, we didn’t notice it at the time but our laminate is screwed to the subfloor in a lot of places and there are gaps between pieces. And if they finished painting when they were updating, we’ve found a lot of half assed work behind doors. This tells you to about who did the work to the home, I now call it “drunk DIY”. Reply Imagine yourself living there and doing daily things/chores. For example, I saw a house where the dishwasher was part of the kitchen island on the other side….and not even near a sink! That would be super annoying to rinse dishes and drip water to go around the island to put into dishwasher. Reply Holes drilled in trusses. Electricians, plumbers, and hvac guys don’t seem to know the difference between a joist and a truss. Joists can be drilled (within certain guidelines) but trusses cannot be altered without appropriate reenforcement in the form of steel strapping, usually. Lots of inspectors will miss this as well. Reply Check the insulation situation in the attic area. Sometimes either it’s not well done to begin with or wildlife can get in and tear it up which can affect your utility costs greatly. Another is making sure the a/c unit is a sufficient size to properly cool the size house you’re looking at. Some house builders are known to use the bare minimum and it can get uncomfortable depending on where you live in the summer. Reply Agent in AUS here. Check the foundations, pest control, roofing and guttering. Another thing is to look at the neighbours… Do they look after their lawns, house in good condition – it will give an indication of whether settling in will be easier. You may also be able to ask them what the phone and internet services are like speed, providers etc. CHECK UNDER THE SINK! If you see warping of the wood or moisture, chances are you’ll have plumbing issues in the walls and flooring in other wet areas. If you find the ground is cracking, soil is too hard, cement drive way cracking then there’s a lot of movement and you could potentially be up for levelling or restumping. Check all windows and doors to see whether they open and lock – if they don’t, there many be structural warping as well. Get an independent building inspector and specifically ask them to check for extra things like past damages or mixes of old and newer materials which may suggest repairs. Discuss any natural disaster that have happened in the last… Not all damages need immediate repairs after an event… But they might during your ownership. Steer clear of complex or unique combination of materials, it may look cool, but you find it very difficult to find replacements if you need down the track. Tiles usually ALWAYS hide problems because people are less likely to pull them up to check. Reply The financial health of the H.O.A. (as with Condo’s and Townhouses). My wife and I shopped for a second property during the housing crisis hoping to snatch up a bargain, but could only afford a Condo. In researching the H.O.A. financials, we found every one we looked at was in a bad state. This means that, some time after purchasing, your monthly H.O.A. fee would go up substantially, or you may be hit with some massive one-time fee in order to cover an unplanned roof replacement, for example. Reply Look inside of the fan vents(usually located on the floor) make sure it’s clean and taken care of, you wouldn’t want to have an insect problem in the future Reply Make sure your bedroom Windows don’t face East, or the morning, summer, sun will start cooking your bedroom at 5 AM Reply Shithead neighbours Reply The main thing is to get a good inspector, and don’t commit to anything until you get the report. Source: Almost bought a house with hidden fire and storm damage, was saved by a good inspector. Reply 1, go see the house at night, and early morning, even if its jusy to sit outside; you’ll be able to tell if there’s problem neighbors or environmental noise that you won’t hear in the middle of the day or a Sunday when viewings typically happen. 2, bring a marble with you, and drop it on the floor in each room. Great way to see if the house and floor has level issues. 3, Always go in to the attic and crawl space. People who do quick surface level renos or fixes never do those and you’ll see the true condition if those areas are mess. 4, Go speak to the neighbors and ask them about the area, house and the previous owners. You’ll learn more from that, than anything they put in the disclosures. 4, Reply I’ve been severely burned by real estate twice, so these are my two biggest pieces of advice: 1) If it’s an older home and there’s any doubt about the foundation, a house inspector is nowhere near good enough. Get a structural engineer to assess the foundation. 2) If there’s a chance you’ll have to move within, say, 5 years (not want to, but have to), either don’t buy, or make damn sure you’re getting the kind of house that moves. No quirkiness, etc. Reply Go back with someone else if you find a house you like. Usually an older person who has bought houses before and has experience with the trouble that arise in homes. It can hurt when they point out problems but you will 100% thank them down the road. Reply after having bought my first home, must have high speed internet, a flat yard, a paved driveway. Reply Smell was always a big one to me. If the house has a strong, off smell, that usually means something- moisture, pets that weren’t cleaned up after, carpet that was never properly cleaned, etc. Reply Ok I haven’t looked through all the comments, but this is a big one and the result can be severe water damage which can also attract carpenter ants. Dead zones on the roof. Basically an area of the roof that will be flat or slanted towards a flat spot like a chimney or wall. With no way for the water to drain. Look carefully at the roof line you don’t want to see things like this | where the bottom of that is flat. Reply See if you can shake the toilet. LPT: If you can shake your toilet side-to-side, this is no bueno. Reply I work at a school. If I were house hunting I woild look at the schools in your attendance zone. Even if you dont have kids these kids are in your area. Say the school by your home is not good that means all those horrible children live all around you. Reply My parents said the previous owners of our house didn’t paint behind furnature, but they didn’t think to check that until after they purchased it because they figured this was a given. I’m here to tell you it apparently isn’t :p Reply Make sure the house is on level ground, front and back. Are the houses on either side higher or lower? Houses lower than the front or back yard have severe problems every time it rains. I can’t figure out for the life of me why someone would build on a lot like that. If there are retaining walls, there are/were flooding problems. Reply In France for instance people really don’t want drive when they don’t have to. Property values are actually adjusted a bit higher in neighborhoods know to have a great bakery! Most towns in Europe were populated before the automobile, so even little villages and neighborhoods have a pub or two, a couple of places to grab a bite, a little market with wine, cheeses, cured meats, cigarettes etc. . In the US it isn’t uncommon to drive a half an hour to get to a supermarket. My point is, really study the whole area around your place. Markets, Coffee shops, Pizza joints, local bars etc etc. … You can really waste a lot of your time off driving places! Reply This may have been said already, but cell phone signal. Make sure you have your phone with you when house hunting and check it at least a couple of times while you’re looking around the house to make sure you have decent signal everywhere in the house, or at least most places. Reply Take a flat screwdriver to press into the skirting boards. Soft wood on skirting boards is a big red flag. Could mean damp, mould or woodworm. Reply Noise. Check for bloody noise. You have no idea what how difficult it is to sleep when your nose is compromised. My gf and I bought into a wonderful neighborhood but I didn’t realise that there was a club at the end of the street. The club is suuuper dodgy and shouldn’t really be able to be heard where we are, but it shares completely windowed walls with an amphitheater shaped building, causing any and all sound to be projecting across the neighborhood to us. They’re in clear violation of noise regulation but we’re living in a backwards African country where officials are just too lazy or corrupt to enforce the law. Sleeping with ear plugs is no fun kids! Reply Buy in a better neighborhood. You can fix problems with the house but not the neighborhood. Reply Going house hunting on a rainy day is a good idea because you can see where water may flood or pool. Reply Bring a small ball or marble with you. Place it on the floor to check for level. If it stays put, you’re square. If it starts to roll, and picks up speed, run. Engineers fixing a crooked house are very expensive. Reply Check Google Earth to understand the surrounding area. Look for sources of noise and odors in the neighborhood. Make sure you aren’t close to airports, gun ranges, car racing tracks, railroad tracks, sewage treatment plants, pig farms, cow farms, highways, marijuana grow facilities, paper mills, or other obnoxious industrial operations. Reply What regular chores will you need to do? Does your trash can need to go a half mile away, uphill both ways? Where is the mailbox? If the yard is fenced is the fence actually in usable shape? Do you own it or do your neighbors? Are your neighbors encroaching on your land anywhere or are you encroaching on theirs? These will all be multi thousand dollar headaches. Is the house served by reasonable internet provider(s)? Reply IAAL, and I have clients come to me all the time with issues from purchasing a home. There are different issues that you need to look out for between purchasing a new home and an older home. Always look out for foundation issues. That is look for cracks in the molding above the doors and around windows, look for small hairline cracks in new tile in the kitchen or the bathroom, if there is siding on the home look for signs of buckling, walk around outside and take a look around the foundation to see if you see any major cracks, see if any of the floors feel uneven, you should not see any of these things yet in the new home and they can be very dangerous signs in an older home as well. Opt to pay for an inspection done by a structural engineer, this is in addition to a regular home inspection and in my area runs about $400 but I imagine gets more expensive elsewhere. It is totally worth it. Problems with the structure of a home can make it absolutely worthless. He will be able to spot things a regular inspection will not spot. You still need the regular inspection as well though. Make sure you get a report on the age of the roof, anything over 10 years might need replacing. If it has two stories and it’s a new home go upstairs and jump up and down make sure the floors feel solid to you and don’t feel like they’re buckling under your weight. Look for nail pops and visible joists. If you see any of these things it’s an indication that the construction has been very shoddy. If it’s an older home, search for signs of mold such as water staining on the basement walls, signs of water having pooled in the basement or bottom floor, and if there is any hint of any kind of musty odor at all run the other direction. Sometimes it’s not a big deal, sometimes there was just a water heater leak and the carpets just need changing out, but unless you are an expert or a contractor, or are getting a great deal on the home and can take the risk on fixing mold problems yourself, then don’t buy it. Mold will kill you and it is an expensive fix. Also if it’s new construction you might want to look up the contractor to see if he or any of his companies have ever been sued before. One or two lawsuits might not be a big deal, some things happen, but if he’s been sued five or six or seven or eight times that’s a bad sign. Also if it’s new construction and it’s near a creek bed and the soil is sandy you might want to have a soil analysis study done, yes that’s a very expensive test but it will save you lots of heartache trust me. A good foundation can be built on the wrong soil and the house will start to have structural problems within a year. Talk to the neighbors in a new development to see how long they’ve been there and if they’ve been experiencing any problems. Another horrible thing I’ve seen with older houses is city sewage backing up into a home. You might want to check public records, do an FOIA request with whatever governmental agency handles the sewer system that hooks up to the house, to ask if there have been reports of any problems. This is not something that is normally done before someone purchases a home. But I have seen it where a home has chronic issues with sewage backing up from the city street rendering it basically valueless. Make sure you request information through the last 3 rainy seasons at least. After seeing some of the things that I have seen, I’ll definitely be doing all of these things before I ever buy again, even though none of this is standard before a purchase. Reply From personal experience, the placement of the sun throughout the day. My first winter, I realized my mistake when not a single minute of sunshine would hit my driveway to unfreeze the snow or ice, forcing me to be on top of my driveway constantly, which is hard to do on shift work. Conversely, the summers were nice with lots of sun in the backyard. Reply Something that is not in a standard inspection but should be : scoping the sewer line. It is really expensive to fix a cracked or collapsed sewer line and also disgusting Reply If you’re going to be living somewhere where it snows in the winter, avoid a north-facing home. The snow in your yard never melts and the steps up to your front door are usually hazardously iced over all winter. Obviously, you can get a snow blower, and you can salt your walkways every time it snows; it just gets tedious and you develop a general sense of resentment for your neighbors across the street who just get to watch their snow melt when the sun come out 🙁 Reply Never, ever, use a house inspector recommended by EITHER of the real estate agents. Reply Make sure every toilet flushes and every faucet runs reasonably. Reply Proper insulation and foundation issues. Reply Stick to budget. Do some internet surfing to have an idea of what to expect in your price range. Realtors will sometimes show you a place on the fringe or a little over your budget that can sometimes cause you to change course. You will normally always like something outside of your price range than within. Reply Water in the basement. Look for evidence that the current home owner has been dealing with recurrent flooding. A heavy duty sump pump, everything in the basement is at least a few inches off the ground, the carpet is brand new, dehumidifier runs constantly, the Cadillac of all shop vacs in the corner, etc. Reply Try to stay downwind as much as possible. What they lack in eyesight, they make for in their keen sense of smell. Reply Go check out the neighborhood at various times of day. If moving to a new side of town, figure out what your commute will be like. Are the places you want nearby still conveniently located? If you have a preferred grocery store, is there one nearby? If you eat out often, are there there good restaurants? Go into those grocery stores, the gas station, parks, etc. and see what the clientele is like for a good snapshot of the neighborhood demographics. Would you feel safe stopping for gas at 2 AM? Do you like the overall vibe of the area? Can you imagine yourself taking the dogs or kids for a walk through the neighborhood, and are there any sketchy street crossings nearby? What is the speed limit and do people seem to be following it? Even if you don’t have kids, what are the schools like, and would you send your children there? Reply While many of the items people list are spot on my main recommendation is to find an excellent inspector. The inspector will find everything wrong with the house even the small things. Reply Visit the house at different times of the day to get a real feel for what the neighbors are like and how busy the street is. Reply If you think something might be an even put a marble on it and watch where it moves. Reply Reply Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Name * Email * Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.