House Hunting 101: 6 Important Things to Look for in a House

Are you hoping to buy a home in 2021?

Choosing a house is a thrilling experience, but it can also be daunting. How will you locate a home in a neighborhood you love and at a price you can afford? Which details matter most, and which ones can you overlook?

We’re here to help you through the house hunting process. Keep reading for expert insight into the most important things to look for in a house.

1. Location, Location, Location

As a first time home buyer, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by options. Before you focus on a specific home, your first step is to figure out a specific location.

To help you determine the perfect location for your new home, consider these factors:

  • The charm and appeal of the street and neighborhood
  • Proximity to work and school
  • Ease of access
  • The home’s location on the lot (or in the building, if it’s an apartment)
  • Potential noise from neighbors or road traffic
  • Access to parks, shopping, and public transportation

Remember, you can always make changes to your home. You can build an addition, revamp the landscaping, or repaint the bedrooms. The one thing you can’t change is the physical location.

2. Consider Your Lifestyle

What are your core values? What things do you value most in your daily routine? Your ideal lifestyle should factor into the house hunting process.

For example, do you like the idea of stepping outside and having everything you need within easy walking distance? Or are you okay with a longer commute so you can live in a quieter, rural setting? Do you want a large yard for the kids and dogs to play in, or would you prefer something smaller and easier to maintain?

Here are some other questions to help you narrow down your choices:

  • Do you travel a lot, or will you be home most of the time?
  • Would you like to host a lot of parties or family gatherings?
  • Do you anticipate a lot of guests who will stay overnight?
  • Do you or your partner (or both of you) work from home?
  • How many vehicles do you own?
  • Do you want space for a workshop, tool shed, or other home-based hobbies?

A flat yard could be great for a pool or swing set, while a hillier lot might offer a better view. If there’s not already a deck or patio built, is there space to add one if you anticipate spending a lot of time outside?

3. Think About Long-Term Needs

The average homeowner keeps their house for 8-12 years, although some will live in the same home for decades. When you’re house hunting, don’t just think about your current lifestyle but also any changes that might come your way.

For example, do you plan to start a family? If so, how many children do you want to have? Or will your children soon be going to college and leaving you with an empty nest?

Here’s another factor to consider: Do you have aging parents or other relatives? Is it possible someone will need to move in with you a few years down the road? Does anyone in the family have mobility issues that could limit their ability to use stairs?

4. Neighborhood Amenities

You probably considered some of these factors while looking at locations, but let’s think of a few more things to add to the list.

If you have kids or plan to start a family, the quality of the school district (and proximity to the schools) will be a big factor for you. You’ll also want to consider proximity to parks, playgrounds, libraries, or daycare centers.

Are there specific shops, grocery stores, or farmers markets you prefer to shop at? If so, how far away are they? If you travel frequently for business, how far is the commute to the nearest airport?

If you plan to walk or ride your bike often, are there sidewalks, bike paths, or parks nearby? Are they well-maintained and easy to reach? Is there a dog park or other areas nearby for your dog to enjoy some exercise and socialization?

5. Condition of the Home

House hunting looks glamorous on TV shows, but major repairs and renovations are anything but. Before you fall in a love with a property, take a close look at the overall condition of the house.

If it’s brand-new or recently renovated, it’s probably considered move-in ready. Some homes might need only minor upgrades, while others will require major renovations or restoration work. Be sure to get a home inspection to uncover any hidden problems that might not be immediately obvious.

On that note, keep in mind that there are plenty of minor cosmetic things you can safely overlook. Don’t get hung up on paint color, landscaping elements, or ugly hardware. You can easily change these things after you move in.

6. Warning Signs to Watch Out For

When you tour a potential home, keep an eye out for these common red flags:

  • Too much “fragrance” could be an attempt to mask mold, damaged flooring, or other damage
  • Poor tilework in bathrooms or kitchens could indicate a rushed DIY job
  • Visible cracks around doors or window frames could signal foundation issues
  • Rust, water stains, or a musty smell could indicate hidden water damage

None of these are necessarily dealbreakers, but you’ll definitely want to find out more information. Sit down with your realtor to review the home inspection report so you know exactly what’s happening inside the house.

Are You Ready to Start House Hunting?

Buying a house is an exciting step in your life, but it’s also a huge decision to make.

Before you jump into a commitment, bookmark this list and refer back to it during the house hunting process. That way, you’ll make sure you stay on track to find the house of your dreams!

House hunting is complicated right now during the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you have to put your plans on hold. Did you know you can take virtual tours of homes for sale?

Click here to get started!