Buying a House

Big Money Things to Look for When Buying a House

(The checklist you definitely should not leave at home.)

Greg Lewerer | June 5, 2018
Man looking for new home, checking kitchen equipment during meeting with real estate agent

Every potential buyer views a property with at least a few biases and a laundry list of oh-no-nos. It’s unavoidable, and list-topping eyesores like shag rugs and creepy wallpaper patterns can leave house hunters distracted and maybe even a little disgusted.

Fortunately for them and you, most of those items are not your real enemy (yet) and can wait to be addressed. There are things far more heinous that could be hiding inside the walls, foundation and other dark corners.

We connected with a number of insightful veterans from the real estate and banking community who were willing to bestow upon you their wisdom. If you’re thinking of a new home (or even if you’re not), bookmark this page. This stuff could save you time, money and maybe even your life. 

Check the Electrical Workings

Forget about color swatches. Shell out the money to have a professional look closely at the home’s electrical system and how it’s installed. Fifty-seven percent of home fires are caused by faulty electrics. Make sure the house is up to date with safety standards required by the National Electrical Code.

Is the Plumbing Working Smoothly?

Plumbing takes a serious bashing...daily. Know what you’re signing up for early. Septic or municipal sewer system? Lead pipes? Hot water heater? Understanding the pipes that keep your house running smoothly can save you major expenses later. 

Mold, Mildew and Musty Odors

Look high and low for any sign of mold, mildew or musty smells. All of these could point to larger piping, ventilation, water leakage or even foundation issues. Look in cabinets, beneath sinks, and around the tile in bathrooms for those troublesome spots. 

Hot and Cold Checks

The highs and lows of weather can easily be tamed with the right machinery. Heating systems and AC units will be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on the reg. You never know which side you’ll meet. When the first heat wave hits, don’t get caught with your shirt off and ice down your pants.

Check the Big Appliances

Make sure your appliances work for you, not the other way around. Word on the street is that most big appliances last 10 to 15 years, i.e., refrigerators, ovens, washer/dryers. Plan accordingly so awkward Craigslist encounters can be avoided indefinitely. 

Are Roof Repairs Necessary?

Having a roof over your head is the fundamental reason for buying a house. If said house is lacking in what literally gives you shelter, you have a problem. Roofs run anywhere from $300 for reparations to $12,000 for brand-spanking new. 

Property Taxes Are Real

And they can be hella expensive. Like with most things in life, asking a few questions will get you moving. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average household spends $2,197 on property taxes a year. They are real, not a monster that your parents made up to scare you.  

Is the Area Prone to Natural Disasters?

Floods, fires, tornadoes, hurricanes and epic snowstorms can and will happen, it’s been proven time and again. The least you can do is check if your snow blower needs an upgrade. Be prepared, do research on the house’s history, and carry homeowners insurance to cover any unforeseen issues. 

The List You’ll Now Never Forget

Keep in mind that cosmetic mistakes and color schemes can be updated at your leisure, it’s the bones and core components that you need to be most concerned about. So keep this list close and hire a professional inspector, because shelling out for the “big money things” that make a house tick is not an ideal way to start life in a new home.

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