When my wife and I were in the market to buy our first home earlier this year, our realtor was an invaluable resource. As we explored houses, he would point out numerous things that we would have never thought to even ask about or know if they were a problem or not.
Everyone knows to check the state of the roof, windows, and carpet. But do you know to check the outlets? Below are a few of the things you should look at when looking to buy a house. Many of these issues will be uncovered in a home inspection, but why pay someone to tell you a problem that you can discover yourself?
I live in a college town. Certain neighborhoods are pretty much devoted to college rentals. Aside from potential noise issues, my realtor informed me of another issue. Home prices in those neighborhoods tend to be stable and not rise. They are typically considered income properties instead.
Take a close look at the walls, floors, and ceilings, especially on levels that are below ground. Water damage will usually take the appearance of a discoloration, such as dark spot, or the paint bubbling.
Does the floor squeak when you walk on it? It’s not a huge problem, but it is a sign of something warping. Short term it is more of an annoyance. In the long term, it will need to be addressed.
Does the floor feel “mushy” in any spots? This is a sign that the plywood under-flooring is rotting and needs to be replaced.
To be up to code, no spot along the wall should be more than 6 feet from an outlet. On counter tops, that number goes down to 2 feet. Also, outlets in kitchens, bathrooms, unfinished basements, and within 4 feet of a sink need to be a special kind of outlet called a ground-fault circuit interruption or GFCI. These outlets are identified by having two small buttons in the middle. It’s actually a mini circuit breaker and will open the circuit if there is a short (such as electricity mixing with water).
If the house has power (foreclosures usually have the utilities shut off), bring a small lamp or other electric device to test each outlet to make sure it works.
Doors, Hallways, & Stairwells
This isn’t really a deal breaker, unless you have accessibility issues. But take a look at the widths and narrow points. Will your stuff fit through? In our last apartment, our stairs were the EXACT width of our sofa. It made moving rather interesting.
On the topic of the stairs, make sure they are sound. Is the carpet loose? Do the steps flex? Both are hazards, although the carpet is a much easier and cheaper fix.
Porch & Patio
The same advice for the stairs and the floor applies here. It’s just a lot easier to diagnose because it’s more visible. Personally, I consider a rotted porch a deal breaker.
Do you have any other tips for things to look for when looking at a home?