You may soon find yourself on the Seattle home search, hunting for the best new home. Naturally, you’ll spend some time touring homes, taking in the staging and getting a better idea of how the home would work for you. However, you may be wondering what exactly you should be looking for while viewing homes—the good and the bad. The following list should give you some clues on what to keep an eye out for when buying a home in Seattle—or anywhere, really.
- Neighborhood: You can learn a lot before you even go inside the home. Speak to the neighbors, maybe take a look around the block. Remember, you’re not just buying into the home, but the area around it. You’ll want to know about the nearby amenities, traffic speeds, the quality of the neighbors, and if the area seems to be on its way up or down. If you see a large number of homes for sale in the same area, or the houses don’t seem to be kept in good shape, it may be a sign that there’s something unpleasant going on that could affect you later on.
- Layout: You may have seen pictures that show of the individual rooms, but a walkthrough will show you how the house actually flows. Is the bathroom too cramped next to the stairs? Are the bedrooms right next to each other, or is one on the other side of the home from the others? Will the living area be spacious enough for your family? How’s the storage? These are all things that only spending time in a home will clear up. Of course, keep in mind that your needs may change in the future, so having a flexible layout is a huge plus.
- Foundation: A house that isn’t level can cause huge headaches in the future. Not only will things look “off”, but a problematic foundation can lead to a host of nasty problems. Foundation issues can manifest in leaks and rust, tilted windows, or flooring issues. A solid foundation really is the building block of a good home.
- Stains and Smells: Building off the last point, you’re going to want to check all around for water damage, mold, and the like. Check under the sinks and around the toilets for leaks, and look for mold or mildew around the showers. Beyond that, be wary of water damage in places where water normally isn’t. Water damage on a ceiling can be a sign of roofing issues, and water in the basement can mean flooding or foundation damage. And pay attention to smells, both good and bad. A bad smell likely means there’s a problem, but a good smell that’s too overpowering could be trying to mask something as well.
- Heat and Electricity: While you won’t necessarily be able to see all the components of the heating and electrical processes, you’ll definitely notice their outputs. With the heating on, make sure each room is getting to the same temperature. If not, there could be a draft or an uneven heating system. Check the electrical panel, and pay attention for flickering lights, damaged appliances, or anything that might suggest a less-than-perfect electrical system. Finally, make sure everything looks professionally done—no jury-rigging!
- Exterior: The roof, gutters, and paint are all things to check out when outside the home. If it’s snowed recently, check the roof to see if the snow is in an even layer—if not, that’s a sure sign of heat escaping and melting the snow. Check for shingles or tiles that are out of place. Make sure gutters are draining properly. A new coat of paint may be necessary to get the shade you want, but if the current coat is peeling and damaged, it may signal something under the surface as well.
- Yard: Take a look at the yard and see how it’s been kept up. Check for any plants that may be problematic—weeds, or something that may be poisonous to your pets. If there are trees, check to see if the branches will drop sap onto the home or any parking spaces. Animals may also use the trees to get onto your roof, which could lead to attic damage if they try to get in. Also, remember that once the home is yours, it’s your responsibility to keep the yard in good shape. If you’re not up for the task, consider a home with a smaller yard with less upkeep.
There are dozens of things that will come into play when touring a home. When buying a home in Seattle, you’ll encounter good surprises and bad, and this list is by no means comprehensive. It may be beneficial to do some additional research, and it’s always good to talk to your real estate professional to get tops on what else may be especially relevant to you. However, this list should be a great starting point when beginning the process of touring homes.