Make a to-check checklist
Because things move so fast when it comes to spring and summer buys, you need to decide whether to put an offer down fast. And the best way to prepare for a quick decision? A checklist of important, often overlooked features that can’t be determined from photos:
- Cell phone coverage throughout the house
- The age and state of the furnace and water heater
- The state of the floors and roof
- Signs of pests, like mice, termites, and ants
- Quality of the weatherization (think double-paned windows and attic insulation)
Get X-ray vision
Home staging has become an art of its own. Real estate agents scent the air with vanilla, and set out bowls of fresh fruit and fake encyclopedias. It’s up to you to look past all that. Just like with human health, the true condition of a house can’t be determined with a glance. Thankfully, sloppy work leaves evidence behind. Cracks in the walls that have been painted over rather than properly fixed and filled, gaps where the floor has sagged away from the moulding, and any warped surfaces or tilting floors could all be symptoms of large, expensive problems brewing under the surface.
Keep renovation plans realistic
We all want to be a Bob Vila — or to at least live with one. But the reality is that those home improvement shows make construction look much, much simpler than it is. The people you see on these shows have decades of professional experience, enormous budgets, and a veritable army of experts to help them and make sure nothing goes wrong. Here’s a good rule of thumb: Any repairs that can’t realistically be completed in a single weekend will need to be done by a professional. Need a new master bedroom door? You can probably manage that. Replacing the baseboards with radiant floor heating? Hire a pro or hold out for a house with an updated heating system.
Regardless of how your first few viewings go, remember to take deep breaths and indulge in a little self-care wherever needed. With a little determination and some savvy house hunting skills, finding your dream home is only a matter of time.