Should You Buy That House? This Checklist Will Help

Here's a starting point with details to consider when sizing up a potential new house

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Deciding which house to buy can be equal parts exciting and stressful -- a balancing act between finding a house that’s a perfect fit for your lifestyle, personal taste, budget and long-term financial goals. Considering the investment, keeping up with all the details can be nothing short of overwhelming.

 

As you and your Realtor find and check out potential new pads, it may seem the variables increase in direct proportion to the likelihood of an important detail falling through the cracks. For example, shorter term concerns such as establishing financing, home inspections and appraisals or selling your current home could demand so much attention you miss things someone with a clearer head would not, such as:

 

  • Three school zones between your potential new house and your only route to the nearest main thoroughfare, which would add approximately 20 more minutes to your morning commute

  • Poor lawn care, unattended children or other neighborly negligence

  • The existence and location of trees and other plants along the property lines, particularly whether you will be responsible for them


The list goes on, and that’s not even getting into the construction and soundness of the house and its systems. That’s why we’ve put together this checklist in an effort to give you a starting point with details to consider when sizing up a potential new house. If you are viewing multiple homes, print a separate checklist for each for handy reference in weighing pros and cons of each later. Another tip: Since everyone has different priorities and varying levels of importance for each, use a highlighter to mark your top 5 or 10 “dealbreakers” for quick reference later.

 

CHECKLIST:

 

The Neighborhood & Your Neighbors

  • Can you imagine yourself being happy driving through this neighborhood daily? Yes  No

  • Is the appearance of surrounding homes pleasing or at least acceptable to you? Yes No

  • Are you comfortable with the nature and appearance of nearby commercial development? Yes No

  • Is there a grocery store within a short drive, or better yet, walking distance? Yes No

  • If you have children, are you comfortable with the quality of the schools serving the neighborhood? Yes No

  • Are you comfortable with the neighborhood’s atmosphere after spending 15 to 30 minutes in the neighborhood (early in the morning, midday and in the evening on weekdays and weekends)? Yes No

  • Would you feel safe taking an early morning or dusk walk in this neighborhood? Yes No

  • Are you comfortable with any neighborhood or homeowner association covenants associated with this property?  Yes No

  • In the event you choose to expand or remodel, are you comfortable with any neighborhood zoning restrictions which apply to the property? Yes No

  • Have you researched crime rates in the area, and are you comfortable with them? Yes No

  • Do pets seem to be contained and properly cared for throughout the neighborhood? Yes No

  • Do the neighbors surrounding this property seem to be long-established and happy there? Yes No


 

House Exterior

  • Is the exterior of the house free from obvious signs of foundation issues, such as cracks in bricks, the patio or foundation itself? Yes No

  • Does the roof appear to be less than 10 years old?  Yes No

  • Is the heating and air conditioning system less than 10 years old? Yes No

  • Does the exterior paint appear to be less than 15 years old? Yes No

  • If there is a chimney, does it appear straight? Yes No

  • Do the gutters and drains appear new and properly functioning? Yes No

  • Does the home have good “curb appeal” not just for yourself and welcoming friends, but resale value later? Yes No

  • Are the yard size, landscaping and maintenance of any large trees going to be manageable for you and your budget? Yes No

 

House Interior

  • Are all of the windows securely constructed and functioning properly? Yes No

  • Do all of the exterior doors close and lock securely? Yes No

  • Are the interior walls free of apparent cracks, especially horizontal ones which are indicative of foundation issues? Yes No

  • Do you like the existing paint color and any other wall coverings? Yes No

  • Do you like the style and installation of the existing floor covering? Yes No

  • Has the home interior been renovated in the past 10 to 15 years? Yes No

  • Would it be relatively easy to do a few improvement projects to make the home more livable for you or to increase resale value later? Yes No

  • Can you imagine your existing furniture fitting well into the rooms of the house? Yes No

  • Are there enough outlets appropriately placed in each room to accommodate the electronics you would use in them? Yes No

  • Is there enough storage for your needs? Yes No

  • Do the heating and air conditioning systems function well? Yes No

  • Is the home free of any signs of mold, mildew and condensation? Yes No

  • Are you satisfied with the water pressure and speed in getting hot water from the tap? Yes No

  • Has the water heater been replaced in the past seven years? Yes No

  • Do all of the outlets and electrical switches work properly? Yes No

  • Have any major work, including updates, been done on the plumbing, electrical or HVAC systems on the home in the past 10 years? Yes No

  • Is there adequate space and electrical power for your washer and dryer? Yes No

  • If there is a chimney, is it functioning? Yes No

  • Are there working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors installed? Yes No

  • Is there an existing alarm system installed? Yes No



 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa Battles, content director for Livability magazines at Journal Communications, works with community leaders nationwide to tell their cities' most interesting stories. Her previous experience inclu...