The process of shopping and purchasing a new home is one of the absolute most stressful time periods of your life. And, if you are a first time home buyer, that stress is amplified even more.
Between finding a reliable realtor, walking through homes, obtaining financing, submitting an offer, planning your move, and closing, there’s too much to do and not enough time to do it.
While each and every step is important, it’s essential you actually choose the right home for you and your family. Weeding out the wrong homes and eliminating them from your short list quickly helps you use your house hunting time more efficiently.
Here are some tips for spotting red flags during your walk throughs before you spend valuable time and money submitting an offer and commissioning an inspection.
Poorly Maintained Appliances
A great thing about home walkthroughs is that you get a firsthand look at how the current occupants treat the property on the daily basis. Most sellers will do their best to keep the property in a showcase state while they are having showings scheduled. But, they cannot do much about the wear and tear of their appliances.
Poorly maintained appliances are a potential sign of a poorly maintained home.
While it’s not always easy to do during a walkthrough, try to get a good glimpse at a house’s gutters. You may not be able to see if they are clean or backed up, but you should be able to see whether or not they are in good shape.
You can also check out the down spouts and see if they are dropping rainwater directly into the house’s foundation, which is not good, or if they are properly directing water away from the structure.
Poor drainage is a leading cause of foundation problems.
Aging HVAC Systems
Just because an HVAC system is working on the day you visit does not mean it will be working a week after you are handed the keys to the front door. During your walk through take a couple extra minutes to check out the heating and cooling systems.
You don’t need to be an expert and do a deep dive, but look to see if they have been serviced regularly, how old they are, and if anything looks off such as excessive corrosion or noticeably questionable repairs.
Should you make an offer, your home inspector will spot anything potentially dangerous. But, you can save yourself a big headache by taking a few minutes to look for yourself as you might not want to even place an offer if you’re looking for something that is move-in ready.
A major mistake many home shoppers make while doing walkthroughs is that they never test houses’ plumbing. When you are doing a walkthrough make sure to turn on taps and flush toilets.
If you notice low water pressure, dirty water, strange noises or smells, or leaking, there might be an underlying plumbing problem. It could be as small as a clogged drain or something bigger such as a cracked septic tank.
Again, your home inspector should be able to point this out, but inspections aren’t cheap so having an idea of what you might be getting into before you place an offer is important.
Flickering or Dimming Lights
Just like testing out all the taps and toilets in a house, you should also test all the lights during your walkthrough. For those walking through a home with big windows and plenty of natural lighting during the day, it’s easy to forget about checking the lights.
Regardless, you want to try every switch and leave each light on for a few minutes. If you notice a light flickering or dimming all by itself, there’s likely a problem with how it’s wired.
If you only see this problem with one light, there’s a solid chance that it’s an isolated incident and it should be a straight forward fix. If however you see this problem in multiple rooms there could be a much bigger and more expensive problem with how the house is wired.
Submitting an offer on a house is a stressful time consuming process. And, hiring a home inspection service is expensive. Getting as much information on a house during your walkthrough and looking for potential red flags can help save you both time and money during your house hunting endeavor.