Property

What to Look for When Buying a House: Complete Guide

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Buying a house is one of the biggest investments that you will ever make. Whether you are a first-time buyer or are moving up the property ladder, choosing a property and moving homes can be one of the most stressful periods in your life so it’s essential to make a correct and informed decision.

Home buying should not be scary and stressful if you formulate a plan and stick to it. Given the intricacies involved in the entire process, it is important to do research and ask the right questions before committing to any purchase. With time, care and research, you should be able to take control of the entire home buying process and make sure you get the perfect new home.

When it comes to buying a house you need to pay attention to a number of variables ranging from price, location, condition, age and size of the property. There are lots of factors that come into play but don’t worry, take a look at our guide below to help point you in the right direction.

Put Pen to Paper & Work Out Your Needs

The market is filled with a wide array of houses, all coming in different designs, shapes, size and even construction materials used. For this reason, it is important to be sure, right from the start, what you want from a house.  Picture your lifestyle and everyday routine and try to imagine what your ideal home looks like.

Picture your lifestyle and everyday routine and try to imagine what your ideal home looks like.

Imagine your lifestyle right now and also how it might evolve in future to see how it might influence a housing choice.

Try to ask yourself simple questions such as how often you are in the home, how often would you host parties or large gatherings, how often will guests stay over and other factors such as how many cars do you intend to own or children do you intend to have.

Answers to these simple questions should form the basis of selecting a house in terms of size, location as well as condition. Below are some of the things to consider dependent on your lifestyle.

Before starting your search for a home, sit down with your family members and draw up a list of requirements, this will give you a starting point when looking at homes.

Here’s the important rooms to consider when making the list…

The Kitchen

The kitchen, for most people, is the “Heart of the Home” and is where you will be spending a large amount of time: From cooking meals to entertaining guests. The kitchen used to be used solely for cooking and so they tended to be smaller in older homes. As times change though, they are being used more often and so will often be part of open plan living and often combine a sitting area or dining area.

When buying a new home, you need to have in mind the size of a kitchen that would be ideal for your family’s needs. The size of the kitchen, as well as necessary features are some of the other things to watch out for when looking for a house.

Kitchen

In case of a young family, a large modern kitchen with perfectly fitted cupboards for safe storage of kitchen accessories is something people now look for.

Flooring is something else you need to look at – tiles are the best option, older materials such as lino or even laminate will not be as hard-wearing.

Take your time to determine the material used and look at the finish. A house fitted with solid wood cabinets, is likely to last much longer given that it would offer a perfect surface for refinishing or painting if they are looking dated.

Appliances are something else to look at – are they built-in or standalone? If they are standalone, will the current owner be taking them with them? That’s something that could add extra costs. Is the cooker gas or electric? Gas appliances are better for cooking on but will require more maintenance and costs could add up if something goes wrong with them.

Number of Bedrooms

In the case of a young family, going with a house with more bedrooms would be the right call as a way of addressing some of the needs that might arise in the future. Do you plan to have more children? Buying a house with a view to the future is the best way to ensure you don’t have to move again in a few years to accommodate your growing needs.

Conversely, in case of a small or aging family, then going with a house with less bedrooms would be more appropriate. Do you have elderly members of the family? Are they likely to require modifications to the home as the grow older?

Bedroom

Does the bedroom have built-in wardrobes or are they freestanding ? What’s the view like? Can you hear road noise? More considerations to think about when looking at the bedrooms.

The Bathroom

A home with multiple bathrooms would be ideal for a family that has more children or hosts relatives for extended periods.  It is also important to note that the more the number of bathrooms, the higher the value of a house.

The number of bathrooms in a house would always come down to how a big a family is, or how one would like them to be. It is also important to have an idea of where the bathrooms should be. In case you are purchasing a house for frequent dinners or parties, then it would be essential to go with a home with bathrooms close to the living room.

Bathroom

While analyzing bathrooms always pay attention to plumbing fixtures as well as the shower and bath to ensure everything is in order and operating as expected. In case of older homes, remodeling or renovation may have to come into play to fix any anomalies on this front.

Does the house have en-suite bathrooms? These are desirable, as are walk-in showers, which can provide a touch of luxury to your daily living.

Stairs and Storage Space

A house with steep stairs is not be ideal for a family with a member who has mobility issues. In addition, if you intend to age in the home, it may also be wise to go with a house that does not have stairs.  However, you can also purchase a house with stairs if it has bedrooms on the ground floor.

Storage space is another aspect that any home buyer should consider. You may want to consider the amount of space you need depending on the needs at hand. A two-car garage would be ideal for a big family.

Staircase

Storage space should also come in handy for storing various tools and any hobbies you may have.

Storage space is something that is often overlooked when viewing a house, as emotions take over and you fall in love with a place, only to find out later it’s not practical enough for your needs.

Location and Property Size

Once you have a list of considerations from the actual house, it’s time to look at the location, size and other factors.

Location and the local neighborhood is an important aspect that any would be homeowner should consider.

A Young family may choose to pick a with home with all the necessary amenities nearby. Such amenities include schools as well as hospitals that are easily accessible.  One should also consider the available social facilities such as sporting grounds, libraries, grocers as well as shopping malls. All of these amenities should be easily accessible.

A location near good schools will often come with a premium in price, so that is something you should bare in mind also. If you have no children and don’t intend to, why pay the premium of being located near a good school?

Parents with young children will need to choose a safe location, being located on a main road is no good from a safety or noise level point.

The size of the garden or back yard is another aspect that you should consider especially in case with families with small children. A large fenced garden would provide a perfect playground for kids as well as for family gatherings but will require time and effort for the upkeep.

The direction a garden is facing is something else you should consider, will it get sunlight when you require it or is it blocked at certain times of day by neighbors or trees etc.

Garden

Consider Home Repairs

When choosing a home, especially older properties, you will need to consider any repairs that might need doing or could arise in future. This is where having a professional look over the property before you buy will help make your decision easier. They will be able to spot any potential issues which might put you off purchasing or you could use these to your advantage when making an offer for the property.

Roof & Gutters

The roof should be the first stop as a leaking roof could be an expensive area to fix and could also have knock-on effects on other areas of the house such as dampness.

When buying a house, consider how old the roof is, and its average life expectancy. If the roof is nearing the end of it’s life then you should have a discussion with the owner to see how such repair costs can offset the actual purchase price.

From the roof, take a closer look at the gutters and fascia, which is essentially the long boards that run along the rooftops where gutters are attached. Given that they are in constant contact with water means, they are always vulnerable to rot if made from older materials, PVC should be fine for many years.

Electrics

Older homes are also more susceptible to electrical faults. The fact that such homes also come with older electrical wiring also means they may not be able to handle new electrical appliances that consume more power.

Electrical faults such as exposed wires damaged sockets or switches also pose safety hazards that one must maintain a watchful eye on.

Electricians fees can quickly run high, especially if the existing wiring is not up to code and the house needs a complete re-wire. These costs can run into the thousands and cause major disruption to your house.

Plumbing

Plumbing inside the house should be up to scratch to ensure there is adequate water supply in all the vital rooms. Run the taps to ensure that water pressure is sufficient especially in the washrooms. Take time to ascertain whether the pipes are insulated.

Damp

Inside the houses look for potential water strains on the ceiling as well as under the sinks, in the kitchen as well as in the bathrooms. Water strains could be a sign of the problems one would have to contend with in future. In the yard try to look for slopping areas standing water of fresh drains, as they could be a nuisance as a breeding ground for unwanted organisms.

Pay attention to the ceiling as it is always a telltale place for water leaks. The state of the ceiling will most of the time signal the age as well as the condition of the house. Also, take time to analyze any potential cracks in the drywall as well as wall surfaces.

Windows

Check out the windows in the house to make sure they open and close properly. This is an important safety aspect as well as for ensuring comfort regardless of weather-conditions. Also note the type of window – are the frames wood or PVC? Are they double-glazed?

Conclusion

Buying a new home regardless of purpose is always a big investment.  It is for this reason that one must ensure the property they settle on, perfectly aligns with their needs and wants even before beginning the sales process.

When looking for a home we recommend you make several viewings of a potential property. Try visiting at different times of day, visit in the evening also to make sure there is no noisy neighbors. Take your time to look around the local neighborhood and see if the properties and gardens are in good shape.

Don’t feel pressured into making an offer by the agent and feel free to chat to the seller about the house and get a feel for them. Will they be difficult in negotiations? You can also talk to any neighbors you see and tell them you are interested in moving to the area, do they have anything to tell you ?

Moving house should not be taken lightly so make sure you carry out all the necessary research to make sure you find the perfect property for your needs.

We wish you all the best in your house search!

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Ruchi holds a first degree in Accountancy and Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration (First Class) from the International School and Business and Media in India. Proficient in financial databases like ThomsonOne, CapitalIQ, Factiva, and has also worked on Bloomberg and Datastream. She has previously worked as Assistant Manager at Genpact India, providing content in support of credit risk assessment of existing and potential clients of GE. ruchi@moneycheck.com


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank or credit card issuer and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.


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5 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Taylor Bishop Reply

    I wanted to thank you for this advice for buying a home. It’s good to know that you should pay attention to the storage space in a home and how much you need. Maybe it could be good to learn how much space you are currently using to get a better idea of how much storage your new place would need at minimum.

  2. Avatar
    kitchenfolks Reply

    Hi, Thanks for the coming to me at the right time. I have been thinking to buy a new home next month. So, I think your guideline will be helpful to me especially the kitchen ideas. Already bookmark this site for future reference.

  3. Avatar
    Tyler Johnson Reply

    That’s a god point hat you would want to have all of your needs met when buying a house. I would think that if you were going to spend all that money on it, then you would want to get everything you want in a house. I’ll have to make sure to do my research so that I could get the best possible if I decide to get a house.

  4. Avatar
    Eli Richardson Reply

    I agree that it is best to pay attention to the storage space to determine how much you need. My wife and I just had our first baby, and we want to buy a bigger house. Thanks to your post, now we know what to consider before we buy a house.

  5. Avatar

    A rate of 5star for this outstanding blog! You just nailed every detail I need when looking for a house, I’ve been searching for the same topic and see your post over the web, its a worth of time reading your post, Thank you very much for sharing this to us!

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