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Things to Look For When Buying a House
Real Estate

Things to Look For When Buying a House

There are certain things to look for when buying a house and the sooner you get a grasp on them, the less overwhelming your journey will be.

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5 min read

June 09, 2021

Purchasing a house is a BIG deal. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying a property for the first time, looking for a summer beach house, or planning to sell your current home to buy another—it’s easy to let the stress get to you. But it doesn't have to be that way, and the secret lies in planning ahead. 

There are certain things to look for when buying a house and the sooner you get a grasp on them, the less overwhelming your journey will be. Follow these general rules, ask the right questions, and you’ll find yourself enjoying the process of finding your dream home.

What to look for when buying a house

What size house you should buy will depend on your needs, personal preferences, and family plan.

House Size

According to Zillow, most people stay in their homes for an average of 14 years. So, the first thing regarding what to look for when viewing a house for the first time should be its compatibility with your long-term plans. If you’re planning on growing your family, is this house big enough? If you’re working remotely forever, can the house accommodate a home office?

You probably already have a general idea of what size you want your house to be. Have a minimum-maximum ratio in mind, adjust it according to your personal preferences, and make sure the size of the space corresponds with your long-term visions for a home.

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House Layout 

Equally important to the size of your house is its layout. Allocating a bigger portion of your budget to choose a good location is a better idea than spending a chunk on tearing down walls and reconstructing the layout of a property. That’s why among the top things to look for when buying a home is choosing one with the right composition and arrangement. 

This again ties into your long-term plans. For starters, think about the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you might need. Do you have plans to have a baby in the near future? Then look for a house with an extra room. Similarly, if your kids are older and about to move out, you might want to downsize sooner than you think.

Do you want a lot of acreage and beautiful, low-maintenance landscaping? Or do you want to avoid maintaining a backyard?

Outdoor Space

There’s so much you can do with a personal outdoor space, especially if you live in California where the weather is nice almost year-round. Before you rule out having an outdoor space as a necessary perk, make sure you truly don’t need it. If you have pets (or are planning on adopting one soon), a backyard will come in handy. Whether you’re an avid entertainer, barbecue enthusiast, like gardening, or growing your own crops, an outdoor space can elevate your desired lifestyle immensely.

Don’t let your excitement distract you. Make sure to keep an eye out on major red flags that may end up costing a fortune.

Need for Major Renovations and Fix-ups 

Many first-time buyers make the mistake of taking the property value when planning out a budget. However, renovations needed after purchasing your house can end up costing you a fortune. Therefore, it’s very important to check the ins and outs of a property you’re eyeing before committing.

Among the things to look out for when buying a house that could cost a pretty penny to renovate are the roof, the heating and air condition system, plumbing, and electricity. Features that hide behind the walls and flooring such as molding and water damage are equally important things to look out for. 

You're going to want to make certain changes to your house at some point, which is why it's important to see how flexible your home can be.

Potential to Personalize

Your house should be your safe haven, and this is a statement that rings a little too true after having spent months not being able to leave. When considering what to look for when buying a home, think about how compatible the property is with your lifestyle amenities. Consider your hobbies, what makes you happy, and what ultimately feels like home to you.

For example, if you love to cook, have a nice kitchen on your wishlist. And if you’re having a hard time deciding what your choice of lifestyle amenities should be, think about your current living situation. What would you change? What would you add or remove? And there you have your answer. 

What to check when buying a house

As you narrow down your options, make sure the area where a potential house is located is safe, especially if you’re moving with children.

Neighborhood Safety and Proximity to Services, Shopping, and Leisure Activities

Any realtor would tell you that other than the house itself, the neighborhood is just as important. This is a crucial factor not only for what it can give you, but for how it can affect the property’s value further down the line. Choose what you prioritize most in a neighborhood and begin your search accordingly. Remember, your home’s location can’t be changed, so take the time to really identify an area where you’ll be happy to live.

Besides neighborhood safety, part of what to look for when viewing a house includes factors such as walkability and proximity to leisure, entertainment, shopping, and dining facilities.

Commute to Work or School

Oftentimes, people fall in love with a house and undermine their initial deal breakers believing they came across the property of their dreams. Well, once the initial infatuation fades, after a while you may end up frustrated that you’re stuck in traffic every day commuting to and from work or school. At this point, it’s too late to go back already. 

This is why, besides the quality of the neighborhood, one other thing to look out for when buying a house is its proximity to important destinations you travel to in your daily life. You might think waking up to downtown views is better than living close to it, but the California traffic will make you catch up with reality sooner than you’d like.

The quality of the education system in the area where you’re looking at properties can say a lot about the overall quality of life.

School District Quality

If you have school-aged children in your family, it goes without saying that the quality of the school district nearby should be a deciding factor. After all, education costs a lot of money, and moving houses for a different school can end up breaking the bank. Thankfully, the Golden State has one of the best public school systems in the nation, so you won’t struggle too much to find a good school near your future home.

You need sufficient bedrooms, kitchen, and bathrooms. But do you really need a built-in entertainment center or brass lighting fixtures?

Needs Versus Wants

Last but not least, in order not to let the list of requirements stress you out, divide your list of things to look for when buying a house into ‘needs’ and ‘wants’. Put qualities that you consider absolute must-haves under the ‘needs’ category and the qualities you consider as extra perks under ‘wants’.

For example, your list could look something like this:

Needs: Certain size and layout, close proximity to work, and good schools in the neighborhood.

Wants: Bike lanes along the street, smart home features, and a second-floor terrace.

In other words, the needs should be your absolute list of requirements, while the wants are extra perks you’d like to have but can compromise on.

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