Monday, February 8, 2016 / by Bill Berning*
Don’t get overwhelmed right out of the gate when starting your home search; peruse your options with confidence, knowing you are comparing apples to apples as much as possible.
House hunting can be exhausting, frustrating, and down right stressful if you don’t know what you’re looking for before you start. Instead of going directly to a house tour, prepare yourself with a list of things you must have, then only look at homes that meet all your criteria.
Are you in the market for a new house? These 9 items top the list of things to consider whenever you tour a home:
Keep in mind all the places you need to go, and how far away they are from this current house location. Calculate the distance to your work, schools, groceries stores, and favorite nightlife spots. Wherever you frequent the most, such as your job commute or gym, should be your top location priority. Also, see how close you are to gas stations and freeways. These aren’t always considered, and it can be a pain to have to drive a long distance just to get to the airport or to fuel up.
If this is important to you, stop a few minutes at each window in the home you’re touring to check out the view. Take note of the direction the windows are facing to see if you’ll get that brilliant sunrise or sunset everyday. Also, check out how close you are to your neighbors, and see if they can easily look into a room.
Before you step into a potential home to tour, drive around the neighborhood a little. Take a look at how people landscape their yard, if they have kids playing in the street, and if a block ends on a busy intersection. This is especially important if you have young kids that will be playing a lot outside. Your neighborhood also plays a huge role in your home’s overall value. According to Andrew Schiller of Neighborhoodscout.com, “There are a few telltale signs of areas with long-term opportunities for jobs:
• Low unemployment.
• High household income.
• Seats of federal or state government.
• Creative industries (music, television, design, publishing or advertising).
• Research facilities.
• Large or prominent colleges and universities.
Be sure to evaluate these and more when selecting a neighborhood to ensure that your investment is as protected as possible in the years to come.
This might seem like a small detail, but a poorly designed driveway can cause some serious stress. Make sure all your family cars can comfortably drive on it to easily access the garage. Some homes have a pillar dividing two or more spots, which can lead some larger vehicles unable to maneuver inside. Also, make sure you don’t have anything blocking your line of sight when you back out, such as tall shrubs or blind corners.
Size and Floor Plan
Pick up a floor plan while you tour a home, and revisit it and keep the house’s layout fresh in your memory. Imagine yourself walking between each room, and note any troublesome areas. Consider the overall space of each room, and know that a larger space will require you to run your heater longer, add more furniture, but will be perfect for a larger sized family. Measure your current furniture to get an idea of where you would put things like couches, beds, dressers, and any other bulky items. Some furniture might not fit, so make sure you factor these purchases into your budget.
Room Count: Beds and Baths
Consider your family’s needs, and if you will eventually need an extra bathroom or bedroom after a few years. Smaller homes can actually benefit a bigger family since they will be easier to clean, plus they transition well once all the kids have moved out. Take into consideration what you currently have now, and ask yourself if this amount of rooms truly meets your needs.
Ideal Kitchen Layout
Do you enjoy cooking? You’ll want to make sure your kitchen flows well, and that all the appliances you need are easy to access. When you’re touring the kitchen, walk through a typical dinner preparation, from cutting board counter height to oven door clearance space; it should all be tested. Ask your realtor what appliances will stay in the kitchen so you can budget for the missing ones, such as a fridge.
Is this your first home? If so, you may not yet know what kitchen layout and style you want. Luckily, the pros at HGTV have spent countless hours reviewing kitchens, and their baseline advice is: ‘Learn how a kitchen’s shape affects its functionality.” Wait – does this mean that some layouts might not be conducive to fantastic cooking and entertaining? Absolutely. HGTV recommends one of these top 5 kitchen layouts:
· The essential work triangle
· Specific work zone designation
· Galley setup
· L-shaped layout
· U-shaped layout
Ask your realtor to show you homes with varying layouts so you can experience how each one might work for your unique cooking needs.
Open every single closet while you tour. Take detailed notes of each storage space on your floor plan of the home, then see if it will work for your needs. When people move, usually they like to de-clutter, but there will still be some items you’ll need to store in your new home. Bring a tape measure with you so you can get exact measurements.
Windows and Finishes
Having natural lighting in each room will cut down on your energy bill drastically. See where each window is placed throughout the home to get an idea of how much sunlight you’ll be getting. Ask your realtor how old the windows are, and if they might need to be replaced. Also, notice the finishes in each room such as the hardware style, molding, and focal points - like a fireplace. These can be changed out or disguised, but it’s best to find a place that already meets your expectations. Bring a camera or use the one on your smart phone to snap some photos of the details that drew you in, then file them with each house’s paperwork for future reference.
It might sound like a lot of prep work to do before touring a home, as well as a lot to think about during the showing, but this will ultimately make your final decision much simpler. You don’t want to miss out on a charming home if you can’t make up your mind, so make it easy on yourself by sufficiently preparing ahead of time, and you’ll be guaranteed to find a perfect home that meets all your needs.