There are many aspects to buying a house. Most people get caught up in finding the perfect home and they look at all the wrong things to find it. We know that when you start looking for a house, you may be comparing what is actually out there to the houses you grew up in, or more probably, dreamed about.
That’s not necessarily a problem. In fact, it’s great when you do find the house that you fall in love with. We’re willing to bet the kitchen has the granite you’ve always wanted, the living room has the perfect original hardwood floor and the bedrooms are spacious enough to put that king sized bed in and a sitting area!
But what about the things that you should really be looking for? You know, the things that get lost in the search of all the trimmings is the actual stuff that makes the house run.
The things that buyers really should be looking at are not as easily seen. We’re talking about the plumbing, the AC, the water heater, roof, and structure.
While you won’t be able to see most of the problems that can occur in a house until you get an inspection (a good inspector is crucial to your peace of mind), you will be able to keep an eye out for certain things that could prove problematic. We’re not saying not to move forward with buying a home if you see some of the following, but it’s good to keep an open eye and look at things other than the amenities a house offers.
Leaks can be easy or difficult to see. When you’re looking in a house, look up for water stains on the ceiling. Open up the cabinets below the sinks and look at the pipes. Turn on the faucets and turn them off. Do they shut off completely? Do they leak?
Termites and other Pests
It is difficult to find evidence of certain destructive organisms if you don’t know what you’re looking for. We’re not saying that you need to tear down drywall, but if there is wood in the house (especially wood frames) look for signs of termites including termite fecal matter (looks like black dust) which is often found around windowsills.
In Florida there are going to be bugs (like roaches) and rodents. Keep an eye out for traps in the kitchen cabinets, garage and attics (if you have easy and safe access). If there are a large number of traps around, it could mean there is a large problem. It may make sense to schedule a pest inspection in addition to the regular inspection.
Check out the Roof
Never, EVER try to climb up on a roof, but stand across the street and try to get as good a look at it as you can. Are there missing shingles, or tiles? The best way to tell if there is a problem with the roof (other than seeing leaks inside), is to look at the fascia boards. Are they showing signs of rot or falling apart? That could mean that water isn’t draining off the roof correctly and could be a sign of a bigger problem.
A/C and Water Heater
The air conditioning units and water heaters are very important. Usually, the owner and listing agent can tell you how old these items are, but it’s always good to give them a once over. Most units that are regularly serviced will have a log from the servicing company on them with the name and date that the unit was serviced. Not always, but usually.
With ACs, take a look at the air filter. See if it’s clean. Water heaters are harder to assess if you don’t know what you’re looking for, but turn on the water in a faucet and see how long it takes to get hot. If it doesn’t get hot while you’re standing there, you could have a problem.
We aren’t saying that you need to inspect every house that you’re in, but at least keep an eye out for some tell-tale signs of trouble. Nothing wrong with checking all the aspects of the house, and not just the shiny stuff! Of course, you always need to get a professional inspector to come and really give the house the once over!