For many who are entering the homebuying market, one of the most exciting parts of this process is visiting prospective homes for sale through a variety of tour or open-house formats. And while this part of your home search is often fun, it’s also one where you should be paying attention to a number of factors — and the general condition of the home is at or near the top of any such list.
At Altius Mortgage and our partners with Mortgage Ogden, we’re happy to assist with a wide range of elements of your homebuying process, from numerous loan programs — including those for first-time homebuyers — to help with pre-approval and other elements that are important to have completed as you hit the home search market. When you’re touring or visiting homes, whether on your own or with your realtor, here are some of the top visual cues we recommend keeping an eye on, plus how they pertain to overall quality and what certain issues might be telling you.
Know the Home’s Age
First and foremost, before you even begin looking around at various home components, find out when the home was built. While certain elements of older homes are desirable, such as hardwood floors or built-in cabinetry, it’s also important to understand your main living spaces in terms of what they’re composed of and how long they’ll potentially last you — plus their own level of energy efficiency.
The general rule is that newer homes are often more energy efficient and may better meet your needs as you live there for longer periods, no matter the location or other factors. For instance, if you have a growing family or plan to have one in the future, you’ll want a home that has room to grow without making too many potential changes to the layout of rooms over time.
One of the first visual areas to take a look at when you’re touring a potential new home is the cabinets and countertops in the kitchen. What’s often most important to note is whether they seem well-made and how they’ve held up over time, especially if they’re painted or stained wood cabinets.
Also, look for any visible areas of damage — such as dings or scratches that were haphazardly filled in with paint — and overall wear, including any that might be along edge areas or even on doors. If these signs are prevalent throughout the kitchen, it may be pointing to an overall lack of quality in what’s offered for sale.
On the flip side, if the cabinets seem relatively new and free of damage, that’s a major plus — but it’s also important to know what the expected lifespan really is for them. If they were installed towards the end or shortly before you toured the home, be sure to note this information so you know how much use they’ll have in terms of longevity.
Another major area to keep an eye on within any home you tour is the condition of baseboards. While these aren’t always the most attractive elements within a home, they’re designed to keep out drafts and can tell you quite a bit about not only energy efficiency but also how much care has gone into certain areas of the home’s maintenance over time.
When visiting prospective homes, pay attention to any areas where the baseboards are cracked or significantly damaged, as well as how close to the floor they go — if there’s space between them and the flooring itself, it could be an indicator that the house has issues with things like moisture.
One area that sometimes moves slightly beyond a pure visual inspection is the appliances in the home you’re touring. It’s generally acceptable to turn on several items or at least open up the refrigerator and inspect the inside, though if it’s off-limits don’t be afraid to ask why.
A few appliances to prioritize here are the stove-top, oven and microwave, since these are used most frequently in many homes. While looking at overall condition is important, it’s also wise to take note of how the appliance looks when off — if there are scratches or other signs of damage along the top or sides, it could be pointing towards potential problems down the road.
Another area of turn-on and turn-off that you should be including in your basic visual inspection of any home is the water pressure. While it’s not always easy to judge, you should be able to turn on the faucets throughout the home and get at least enough out to wash your hands or take a shower — if this isn’t the case and you’re not sure why, it could be an indicator of problems with plumbing or even outdated elements.
Fuse Box and Circuit Breakers
While you should never touch or mess with these elements in any home, it’s important to note the condition of this part of your potential new house. If everything is relatively new-looking and well-kept, that’s a good sign — but there are other potential signs you should be aware of.
For instance, if multiple circuits seem to have been added at once or the wiring has been altered, that could be an indicator of electrical issues within the house that you should look into. On the flip side, if only one circuit has been added and there are no signs of recent repairs or alterations to elements like wiring or fuses, this is a plus — just note how old the box itself looks so you have some idea of its next potential replacement date.
For more on the visual signs of a home that’s in good condition while you’re touring the market, or to learn about any of our mortgage rates or home loan services, speak to the team at Altius Mortgage today.