Buying a home: assessing the situation

July 27, 2015

It is not enough that your dream home looks good from the outside. Before making an offer to buy, there are many things to consider about location, size and physical condition. These tips will show you what to look for.

Buying a home: assessing the situation

Assess the floor plan

If you find a home that looks and feels right, walk through it again with an eye on the floor plan. (Fixing an unsatisfactory floor plan is a lot harder than changing paint or carpets.) Then ask these questions:

  • Does the home have an open, light-filled layout? Not only is this a more pleasant setting for you and your family to enjoy, it also appeals to most people, making it easier for you to sell the house later on.
  • Is the kitchen large enough? Is there enough counter space and cabinet space? Are the stove, refrigerator and sink arranged in a convenient work triangle?
  • Are there enough bathrooms? Are they private?
  • Will it be easy to get groceries from the car to the kitchen, or will you be struggling up a flight of stairs?
  • Are sleeping areas far enough from TV and recreation areas?
  • Is there enough closet and storage space? Don't count on attics and basements for storing clothes and books unless these spaces are climate-controlled and easy to reach.

Assess the location

Look closely at neighbouring houses and yards to see whether they're well maintained.

  • Research the schools in the area, even if you don't have young children. This can affect resale value later on.
  • Ask the local zoning office about zoning in the area. An undeveloped piece of ground nearby may be allowed to become an industrial park or high-rise apartment buildings.
  • Check on public transportation and other public services in the neighbourhood.

Assess the home's physical condition

A good, solid home should have the following:

  • A solid foundation. There should be no holes or cracks. The ground should slope away from the house so that water is directed away and there should be no sunken spots in the yard — an indication of a drainage problem.
  • A clean, neat exterior. Brick and concrete surfaces should be free of missing mortar, flaking and cracks. Siding should be painted (or new) and free of blistered, warped or rotted spots. Window screens should be intact.
  • A roof in good repair. No shingles should be missing.
  • A well-maintained interior. All walls should be freshly painted and free of cracks.
  • A dry basement. Musty odours or stains on the walls or floor are indicators of a problem. Buyers should ask questions if basement floors have been freshly painted.
  • Sturdy, level floors. Wood floors and any carpets should be clean and in good condition.
  • Windows that open and close easily and insulate against heat and cold.
  • Adequate water pressure. Try running several faucets at once, or running a faucet and flushing the toilet, to see how much water pressure you lose.
  • A hard working kitchen with up-to-date appliances and adequate working spaces.
  • Bathroom tiles should have no mildew in the grout.

Following these guidelines will aid in making the right decision about whether to buy a home, or continue in your search.

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