Ready to start your home search? Before you get caught up in the excitement of an open house, prepare for your next showing with some helpful tips from the real estate experts at BHHS Fox & Roach. We’ll share what to look for when touring a house and specific questions to ask so you can be an informed buyer.

Questions To Ask When Viewing A House

Homeowners must provide a seller’s disclosure form, which describes any “material defects” in the home. While this is helpful, it won’t tell you everything you need to know. To get the most out of your home showing, here are a few more questions to ask when looking at a house.

  • When were the windows replaced?
  • How old are the appliances in the kitchen and laundry room?
  • What’s underneath the carpet?
  • When were the bathrooms and the kitchen last renovated?
  • How old is the roof, and what type of roof is it?
  • Is the addition to the house legal?
  • Were renovations completed by a professional or DIY?
  • Where does the property line begin and end?
  • What condition is the pool in? How much do you spend to maintain it?
  • Is this home in a flood zone?
  • Has the sewer line ever been replaced?

Things To Look Out For When Viewing A House

When you view a home for sale, you certainly want to make sure it meets your family’s wants and needs. For example, does it have central air? Is there enough storage? Does it have an open floor plan? But that’s just the first step.

It’s equally important to have a checklist that focuses on red flags. Let’s discuss some of the common issues, such as the foundation, water damage, potential repairs and renovations, and health and safety concerns.

Also, be sure to run the list by your BHHS Fox & Roach realtor. Since our agents tour homes every day, they know exactly what to look for in a house and can alert you to potential problems as you view homes.

A Good Foundation

Missing a major foundation issue could create costly repairs down the road and even be a safety hazard. Add these items to your list of things to check when buying a house. While they’re not definitive signs of a foundation problem, be sure to document them with photos for reference.

  • Windows – Are they hard to open?
  • Floors or staircases – Are they uneven?
  • Drywall – Are there any small cracks?
  • Wall seams and ceilings – Are there any gaps?
  • Exterior concrete – Are there any large cracks?

Water Damage

Water damage can be very destructive, so it should be at the top of your list of things to look out for when buying a house. It can cause mold in your carpets and drywall as well as rotting in your floors. Not only that, but the presence of mold can also lead to health problems. Here’s what to check as you tour the home:

  • Unpleasant smells – Do you smell anything musty? Be sure to check the basement, garage, and bathrooms in particular.
  • Water run-off – Where is the water flowing? Do the gutters work? Does the ground slope away from the house? (See if you can visit the home right after a rainstorm)
  • Leaks – Turn the faucets on and off. Does the water stop completely?
  • Water stains – Are there discolorations on the walls, ceilings, door frames, or floors? Are storage items propped up a few inches in the basement?
  • Roof – How old is the roof? Are the shingles loose or discolored? Ask whether the roof is well insulated. If not, heat can leak out, causing melted snow to seep into the roof and walls.

Repairs & Renovations

As you walk through the property, keep a running tab of home improvements you’ll need (or want) to make. If the price tag gets too big, you may need to cross a potential house off the list. While this will be different for each homebuyer, here are some examples of what to look for when viewing a house. Think about whether these changes need to occur right away or if you can wait until you’ve saved more money.

  • Painting walls or removing wallpaper
  • Replacing carpet or installing hardwood floors
  • Remodeling a bathroom or kitchen
  • Removing trees or landscaping
  • Adding a fence

Health & Safety Concerns

Last but not least, you want to make sure this new home is safe for you and your family. Here are a few more things to watch out for when buying a house. Some of these might be deal-breakers, while others may just need a simple fix.

  • Hazardous Materials – If it’s an older home, be sure to ask questions about asbestos or lead paint.
  • Mold – Look for signs of mold, especially if there’s been water damage.
  • Electrical – Check for any evidence of improper wiring or exposed wires.
  • Busy road – If you have children or pets, assess the traffic at different times of the day.
  • Stairs – Test whether interior or exterior stairs are wobbly or too steep. Do they have sturdy handrails?
  • Accessibility – If a family member needs special accommodations, is the home suitable, or can you easily make adjustments?
  • Pets – If a family member is allergic, make sure you can remove all traces of fur and dander.

While these tips won’t replace a professional home inspection, you’ll have a much better sense of whether the home is likely to require costly repairs or pose a safety hazard. Armed with this knowledge, you can decide what’s best for you – walking away or making an offer.