Buying a house is a huge decision, and house hunting to find the perfect home for your family should be fun and exciting. The problem is it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the process and overlook some major issues a house might have.
If you find a house you love but it doesn’t have everything you need from a home, you’ll quickly regret your decision. In this post, we’ll cover some deal-breakers and house hunting tips you need to keep in mind to make sure you find your dream home.
Before You Start: Figure Out Your Priorities
Before we jump into our tips, it’s important to know that what is a deal-breaker for you, might not be a deal-breaker for someone else. That’s why you need to have a list of priorities before you start house hunting.
Sit down and make a list of your non-negotiables. This could be a driveway, downstairs bathroom, outdoor space, etc. Then make a list of things you’d really like to have, but could live without.
Keep this inspection checklist handy to help you walk away from houses that seem great but aren’t the perfect fit for you.
What Should you Look for When House Hunting?
When you start house hunting, there are a few things you absolutely need to look for.
Location, Location, Location
The most important factor when looking for a house is the neighborhood. No matter what problems a house has internally, these can be fixed. But you can’t change the location.
If you find your dream house but it’s in a terrible neighborhood with noise pollution, move on. The love of your house will quickly fade when you don’t have the schools, parks, or shops you need on your doorstep.
Although good neighborhoods are more expensive and could be out of your price range, a better long-term investment is finding a fixer-upper in a good area. You’ll be able to add value and you’ll have a neighborhood you love well into the future.
Doors and windows
When you’re looking in each room, think about how much natural light is coming in. With some clever staging, it’s easy to make rooms look much lighter and brighter than they are with artificial lights.
When looking at the windows and doors, also ask about the age. Older windows probably have a very poor energy rating and will let in drafts in the winter.
Doors and windows are expensive to replace, so if these are in poor condition, it could be a deal-breaker.
It’s easy to overlook the roof when you’re viewing a house. It’s difficult to see from the ground and most people assume any major issues will be pointed out by estate agents.
But try to have a quick look at the roof when you go to a viewing. Are there tiles missing? Is the guttering broken? Is there a lot of moss growing?
These are all red flags that should have you thinking twice. Having to repair a roof is a major project that will cost thousands of dollars.
Although issues will be picked up in a home inspection, you’ll save time and money if you can spot potential problems before you even get to that point.
Having enough space on the driveway is another deal-breaker you won’t want to compromise on. If you have two cars, you’ll want a home with a double drive.
It may not seem like much of an issue, but trying to find street parking will soon get tiring and you’ll wish you held out for a house with a decent drive. If you find a house you love that doesn’t have a driveway, see if there’s enough space to add one yourself down the road.
Although this is a costly project, it will instantly add value to a property and curb appeal.
Siding and foundation
Cracks in the foundation or siding should be an immediate deal-breaker. Although siding damage is easier to rectify, cracks in the foundation are a major problem that isn’t worth the headache.
If you find a house for a low asking price, make sure you ask the real estate agent about the siding and foundation for damage – this can drive the price right down and make a house look too good to be true.
The floors and ceilings
Another easy part of a house to overlook when viewing is the floor and the ceiling. Take time to check each room – can you see signs of mold or musty smells? Are there obvious cracks?
Also, check for things like wallpaper or textured ceilings. These can be a pain to remove and may be covering up serious issues underneath.
What to Avoid Doing When House Hunting
Viewing houses is an exciting process, but it’s far too easy to get swept up in the excitement and make some common mistakes.
Here are a couple of things you need to be aware of and avoid doing when you’re house shopping.
Focusing on Décor
When you walk into a house that’s dated or cluttered, it’s hard to see past it. But remember, none of the stuff in the house will be there when you move in. Plus, garish colors or outdated décor can easily be changed.
Instead, focus on the size of the rooms, the number of windows, the layout, and other permanent details.
Not Getting an Inspection
When you do find a house you love, never skip getting a professional inspection. Many buyers panic they’ll miss out to another bidder and so forgo the inspection.
The problem is, there might be a costly issue lurking somewhere you didn’t notice. It’s always best to be safe and get an inspection so you know what you’re signing up for.
Overlooking Major Problems
If you’ve found a house you love but it has a major problem, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can live with it.
This is why it’s crucial to have a list of must-haves before you go house hunting. Whether a house has a structural issue or is missing something off your list, you’ll regret overlooking it in the long run.
The perfect house is out there for you – it’s better to be patient and wait for the right one to show up.
Once you’ve found the perfect house – it’s time to think about hiring the best movers to help you get there.
When Should I Start House Hunting?
You should give yourself at least five months to begin looking for a house before you’re ready to move out – this is the average house-hunting time. From getting a bank loan and solicitors in place to going on viewings and putting in offers, it can be a long process to find a house.
If you’re currently renting, five to six months will give you enough time to find a place and give notice to your landlord that you plan to move.
How Long Should You Look at Houses Before Buying?
There’s no set buying timeline you should dedicate to finding a house. You might find your dream home in a matter of weeks or it could take months.
But when you do find a property that you’re thinking of putting an offer on, you should do multiple viewings. Try to visit in the day, evening, and rain.
This will give you an idea of what the property is like in the sunshine, at night, and if there are any issues with the guttering or windows.
What Does it Cost to Move House?
As soon as your offer has been accepted on a house, it’s time to think about the moving process!
It’s surprising how long it takes to pack up a house and get ready to move, so the sooner you get started, the better.
If you’re wondering how much it’s going to cost to move, check out our guide on how to figure out your moving costs.