What to Look for at a Showing
I tried really hard to think of a clever title for this blog post and I couldn’t. Forgive me. Show me the money? The show must go on?
I think the majority of people would agree the most fun part of buying a home is getting to view all the different properties before making a decision. (Not gonna lie – it’s my favorite part, too, about being a realtor!) It’s easy to get swept up in the perfect layout, gorgeous countertops, or a lush bathroom, but what else should you be looking for you when you tour a home?
Use all your senses
Okay, well all of them except for taste. It’s usually dangerous to lick any surfaces right now, especially during Covid.
Does not apply to houses. Wear your masks, people!
A good sense to start with is smell. When you walk into the home, do you notice any weird or bad smells? Frequent odors can be smoke, pets, or dampness/moldiness. Smoke and pet odors can be tricky to remove and will probably require full paint throughout the house and possibly new flooring (especially if the home has carpet). Dampness/moldiness can be a serious issue and this is where your sight comes into play.
If there’s a damp or moldy smell in the house, first, it’s completely okay to say, “No thanks,” and be on your way. But if you’re not turned off, it’s essential to figure out where the smell is coming from. You’re going to want to look for leaks, cracks, old wet spots on ceilings, and any water or dampness in basements, crawl spaces, or attics. (I should also point out, it’s always a good idea to to this even if you *don’t* smell anything). Also, if the home is in an area that seems flat/bottom of a hill/likely to flood, is there a sump pump installed? I attended an inspection with a buyer a few years ago and the house seemed mostly alright UNTIL the inspector wriggled herself into the crawl space, accessible only from the outside of the house. That’s where she took a pretty gruesome photo of about 6-12″ of water just sitting there, filled with all sorts of random junk, cables, debris, etc., mere inches from the home’s main floor right above it. Yikes was a good description. My buyer decided not to go through with the purchase and I wholeheartedly agreed with that decision.
There are a few big ticket items that you can try to take a look at during a showing (some may have to wait until an inspection). Try to take a look at the roof from a few different angles outside – is it in good shape, rough shape? Clean or covered in greenish moss? A brand new roof can run upwards of $10,000. Often, a seller will include when the roof was last replaced, if they were the ones to do it. Similarly, how is the siding? All in good shape or pieces falling off here and there? Painting a house can be a few thousand dollars, but likely more expensive if you have to actually replace (and match) all of the siding. Heating, cooling, and plumbing are tough to look at during a showing but will definitely be addressed during a home inspection once your offer is accepted. You can run faucets or flush toilets if you’d like – though replacing a pipe or faucet is not usually so expensive that it should ruin your deal. Finally, check out the trees on your property, especially the ones close to your house. Looking at trees NEVER occurred to me until I bought a house. We had a giant branch hit our back deck in a windstorm in 2017 and subsequently, the tree had to be completely removed. Removing a tree can run upwards of $1000+! (Not including the stump!) Now, should you be scared of trees? No. But definitely take a look at the condition of the trees around the house – if they look dead, dying, or sketchy, you may want to negotiate the seller to have them removed or pared down if they could be an issue in the future.
The last two things I recommend checking out during a showing involve a mix of sight and touch. First, take a look under all faucets inside cabinets to make sure there’s no dampness, leaking, stains. Second, if all the windows look like they were installed around the same time, open a few of them to make sure they slide easily. Also, if you ever see fog inside of a pane of window glass, there’s likely a seal issue and the window may need replacing. (Same with sliding rear doors).
Home showings are fun! I love touring the inside of homes with my clients but it’s easy to get carried away with beautiful or unique features. Remember you can add those cool features yourself later on if necessary. A pot filler might be $200 but a leaky basement could be $15,000.
Any other items you always look for during a showing? Anything you missed and regretted after putting in an offer? Let me know!