Prepare to look at a lot of houses
House hunting is no walk in the park. Walking through house after house can wear on you. Don't get discouraged! The more you look, the more things you’ll identify that you’ll want in the house you buy. Talk to your real estate agent often. The more they know about what you want and don’t want, the more effectively they can help you narrow your search.
When evaluating a house, there are two considerations: the quality of the construction and the location. After years of working with homebuyers, real estate and construction professionals, we can say that even if you don’t know much about construction, there are some key areas to look at and ask questions about.
LOOK AT THE FOUNDATION
Look for cracks and other damage. Look at the ﬂoors to see if there are any low spots or high spots, where jacks have been placed.
CHECK HOW THE DOORS OPEN AND SHUT
Doors that rub when opening or won’t shut (especially in an old house) are indicators that the house has settled. In a new house, these symptoms might indicate poor construction.
LOOK IN THE ATTIC
Look to see if the roof framing is braced properly. Look for sag in the rafters.
ASK ABOUT THE FURNACE
An older furnace is a risk. It’s hard to determine how long one might last; older furnaces are expensive to replace, but they are also far more inefﬁcient than new models. An older furnace might be a topic for negotiation at the offer stage.
CHECK FOR TERMITE DAMAGE AND SIGNS OF MOLD
Most houses built before 1950 will have some termite damage, but you are looking for active infestations. Mold issues can make the house unhealthy.
ASK ABOUT THE WIRING
Especially in an old house, ask your inspector if the wiring has been updated.
INSPECT THE ROOF
Is there weather damage? When was it installed?
IS THE HOUSE WELL INSULATED?
Are the windows, walls and doors insulated? Issues in any of these places don’t have to be a deal breaker, but they deﬁnitely should be part of your evaluation. Some can be expensive to ﬁx and too many issues should probably be a red ﬂag that the house will be expensive to own.
To learn more about the home buying process, click the button below to download our First Time Home Buyer's Guide.