Home buyers are all searching for that feeling. That ‘this is it – this is the one’ feeling the moment you walk in the front door of a house. When you believe you’ve found the home of your dreams, or when viewing any other home for that matter, it’s important to reel your emotions in, and put your inspector hat on.

A dreamy walk-in closet or Food Network worthy kitchen are all exciting things to find. However you want to look below the surface when you’re viewing a home so that the house of your dreams doesn’t become your worst nightmare after you buy.

Here’s are some tips for viewing a home:

Look at the Structure

Fresh paint, upscale décor, nice furniture, these are the superficial things that distract you from what’s important. Don’t focus on the things that you can easily fix or change after moving in. Focus on the things that you don’t want to deal with if you bought.

Have you ever heard a realtor say “That house has good bones”? That’s the structure.

Good foundation, no weeping floors, clean and functioning plumbing, neat and tidy wiring. These are the parts of the home that are going to last and should be paid attention to. If there are issues, consider what it’s going to cost to fix or replace these things and add that to the price and timeline of buying. Maybe the cost and work can be negotiated into the sale, but finding it early is going to work in your favour.

Take a Temperature Check

Literally.

Make sure there are no issues with heating and cooling systems – which are very costly to replace. Has everything been well maintained or even updated? Take a good look at the furnace and its functionality. Turn on the heat in a room and see how long it takes to heat up, plus look for areas where heat may be escaping.

If a home is on electric heat, ask to see previous power bills to give you an idea of how much power a home uses. If the bill is astronomical, it could mean that the heat is constantly running to maintain temperature.

Things like the addition of a (well-maintained) heat pump, or digital/programmable thermostats show that care has been put into the home. If you notice the house isn’t insulated properly, or has an issue with heating, you can anticipate big (costly) problems down the line. And if you don’t know what to look for when looking at furnaces, baseboards, or heat pumps, bring someone who does.

Put Finish-Work Under a Microscope

Tiling, laminate, hard-wood, lighting, backsplashes, cabinet work, trim, you name it. Inspect it all and make sure everything was installed professionally. This is especially important if you notice upgrades in an older home. If you find problem areas, such as gaps in tiling or sloppy grout work for example, it could signify that it was a DIY job. You don’t want to inherit someone else’s poor work, especially if it is a flipped home.

Ask the right questions. If areas such as a kitchen or bathroom were remodeled, quiz them on what was done. Ask for some before and after pictures to give you an idea of the scope of work. Ask who did the work and do your homework on the companies. You don’t want to learn that ABC Electric typically does poor work installing lights after you buy the home.

Discovering DIY jobs isn’t necessarily a bad thing either, and it might not even be a deal breaker. But, it will at least help you and your realtor find an accurate buying price.

Follow Your Nose

This may sound silly, but make sure you’re getting a good whiff of every room in a house. A sniff test may be the difference between finding the house of your dreams, and finding the house of your dreams but with fungus infested ceilings.

If you’re catching funky smells, you can ask questions and make sure it’s something that can be taken care of – preferably before you move in and at the sellers expense. If you’re smelling musty odors, it could possibly be mold or water damage issues, and you can inform a house inspector to keep an eye out.

And don’t be fooled by scent plug-in’s or heavy synthetic aromas like baked cookies and potpourri. These could be in place to throw your sniffer off of real problems, or used to cover up things like smoke, mildew, or something more offensive.

When you’re looking at buying a home, don’t simply browse. You need to pay close attention, and get into the fine details. A great realtor will help you look past the ‘love-at-first-sight’ feeling that often distracts us from noticing problems. And don’t forget to hire a home inspector.Are there any homes that have caught your eye recently? Let us know, and we’ll set up a viewing!

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