Buying a house is likely the largest purchase that most people will make in their lives. It’s a huge decision that should not be taken lightly. However, today’s real estate market also moves very quickly, forcing faster decisions. Even though you may feel pressure to move quickly, you don’t want to go into a home purchase blindly, which is why home tours are critical. Consider this your house tour checklist, with everything you need to know about making the most of your tours and knowing what to look for so you can make an informed decision on your home purchase.
Checklist of What to Look for on a Home Tour
When you have an opportunity to tour a home, you’ll want to make your visit count and get all the details necessary to inform your decision on the home. First, you’ll want to ask the agent some questions about the home, including:
What is the submission deadline for offers on the home? You don’t want to lose your dream home just because you missed the deadline.
Have other offers been made on this home? Knowing if there are other offers can help you make your offer more competitive.
Why are the sellers moving? You’ll want to know if they are moving because of a declining neighborhood or difficult neighbors.
Have any changes been made to the home’s original design? Here, you’re looking for unpermitted work, as well as whether the sellers are willing to make repairs before the sale to bring the house up to code.
Are there any issues with the property? Agents need to disclose this information, and you can see the extent of any issues in person during your visit.
Bring along a notebook and write down the answers to these questions, as well as any characteristics you want to note for each home you tour. You can usually also take photos and videos during a tour, so you have a clear reminder of the home’s features to help you decide.
Interior Aspects of a Home
While you’re touring the inside of a home, try not to focus on the small things you can easily change later, such as carpet styles, paint colors, small fixtures and hardware. If the existing owner has furniture in the home, try to envision the room without it as the furniture will be moved out. Here’s what to look for when touring a house:
Overall floorplan: While you can knock out walls and change the floorplan of a home, this is an expensive project to take on. It’s best if the home’s general floorplan already matches your preferences, as well as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in the home you want.
Odors: Watch for damp or musty odors that can signal bigger problems like mold and mildew due to leaking pipes or a basement that floods easily. Cigarette and pet odors may not be as dangerous but can get into walls, carpets and other surfaces and be difficult to get rid of. Be aware of candles or other fragrances that may be used to hide underlying odors.
Condition of walls and floors: You’ll want to look for any signs of damage on walls and floors, including water spots, large cracks, soft spots in the flooring and uneven, warped flooring. Any of these can indicate larger problems like leaks, rotting floorboards or issues with the foundation.
Heating, cooling and plumbing systems: If possible, ask to turn on the heat and air conditioning while in the home so you can listen for any unusual sounds. You can also turn on a faucet or shower and flush a toilet to check the water pressure and note anything unusual about the plumbing.
Electrical box: Have a look at the electrical box in the home. If it still has a fuse box, you may be looking at some immediate repairs to bring the home up to code, and it could prevent you from obtaining a mortgage or insurance for the home. Watch for other dangerous signs like frayed or damaged wiring, lights that flicker and warm spots on the wall near outlets. Also, note how many outlets are in each room and if they are conveniently located.
Natural light: Does the home seem dark or filled with natural light, and does it match up with your preferences? Think about where the sunlight will be coming in at different times of the day and the general feeling you get while in the home.
Exterior Aspects of a Home
During your tour, you’ll also want to take a walk around the exterior of the property. There are some things to pay attention to when buying a house, and you’ll want to keep these aspects of the home’s exterior in mind:
Location: Drive around the surrounding neighborhood, looking at nearby features and the condition of other homes in the area. You’ll also want to pay attention to aspects like traffic patterns or undesirable noises and odors. Consider driving by on different days of the week and different times of the day to get a good sense of the neighborhood. Note what schools, parks and businesses are nearby and if the area looks safe and easy for biking or walking around.
Yard size and landscaping: While some things about the yard and landscaping can be easily changed, like shrubs and small plants, pay attention to the size, age and placement of larger trees. Decks and patios can be updated, but this is a larger project. Take into account the shape, size and slope of the yard, as this is nearly impossible to change. Think about how you’ll use the yard and if it would be a good fit. You should also look for evidence of pests or fungal infestations in the lawn.
Roof and gutters: You may not be able to see every issue here, but if there is visible, obvious damage or signs of wear, you can ask for more information. The roof and gutter system should look like it’s in good shape and not in need of repairs.
Siding, windows and doors: Check on the age and condition of the house’s siding, windows and doors. Note anything that should be replaced soon.
Make Philly Your Home With Streamline
When you’re ready to tour some amazing homes, check out the portfolio at Streamline. We are a full-service real estate construction and development company specializing in the neighborhoods of Philadelphia. Make Philly your new home and find the perfect home for you with Streamline. Our team knows the importance of being able to tour a home before you buy and is happy to set up home tours so you can take a closer look at our available homes. For more information, contact Streamline today. We can’t wait to help you find your next Philadelphia home!