In these days of tight inventory and fierce competition for homes, homebuyers must make lightning-quick decisions. One tour through a house, and it’s time to put in a contract — or lose the house to someone else.
With no time for return viewings, buyers need to make every minute of the home tour count. And that means looking past cosmetic things, such as décor and paint, to the things that matter most.
“In short,” notes U.S. News & World Report, “look hard at things you cannot change or that will be expensive to change, and concentrate less on things that aren’t permanent.”
The magazine suggests focusing on these things:
Floor plan: Does the basic floor plan work for your needs? Are the room sizes appropriate? While you can knock down walls to make bigger rooms or different configurations, that will be expensive and highly inconvenient.
Water damage: Check for “dark spots on roofs and walls, a mildew smell or even marks low in the wall that indicate a flood,” advises the magazine. These may indicate problems that have been repaired. But they could also point to current problems that need to be addressed.
Roof and gutters: Does the roof look worn? Ask about its age and if the roofing materials have been updated for modern standards, regarding hail, etc. Replacing a roof is a major expense you’ll want to avoid.
Electrical boxes: Check the fuse boxes. If they’re old and look “jury-rigged,” you may need to update them. Sometimes this pricey fix is required before you can get a mortgage loan.
Cracks in garage floors and uneven flooring: These are red flags that can indicate expensive foundation issues.
Light: Does the house feel dark, or bright and sunny? “How the house makes you feel can be part of your decision-making process,” notes U.S. News & World Report.
Yard: Keep in mind that you can always change the flower beds and hire a professional landscaper, but you can’t make the yard bigger or change its basic shape.