3 Areas To Look At When Shopping For A Home

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If shopping for a home is stressful to you — particularly an older home — then congratulations, you’re doing something right.

At least you are if you’re not taking everything at face value, and part of the stress that you’re creating is due to a vigilance when reviewing structure, property, and the home’s internal workings.

While there are numerous areas deserving of your attention while shopping for a house, we’d like to focus on three big ones for today. These include your foundation, your gutters, and your air conditioning. Each area can affect your finances significantly. The foundation tells you whether your home is structurally sound and safe. The gutters hint at potential problems as a result of water damage. The AC unit tells the story of a home’s energy efficiency (or lack thereof). That being said, let’s delve a little deeper into each.

Checking Foundational Issues

Large trees growing close to the house. Encroaching roots could cause problems down the road.

Once inside, be sure to look at the walls and ceilings in each room, especially for obvious cracks. When it comes to cracking, look for ones that are both horizontal and vertical, width, and whether they look like they could spread. Small cracking is not as big of an issue and usually occurs as a result of the home settling. However, the very large cracks could indicate foundation issues that require the eyes of a professional.

Before you buy the home, walk around the entire property. Doing so should enable you to spot potential issues before ever making an offer.

Examining The Gutters

Go outside and do a visual analysis of whether downspouts and gutters are in good shape. Check for loose and damaged sections, and make a note of how far the downspouts extend away from the foundation, sidewalks, and driveways. If downspouts are pointed properly, they will channel the water away from your home and not pool at the foundation, thus creating structural problems further down the road.

The longer away, the better.

Faulty gutters can create stress on the walls and soften the ground around the house. From there, movement, cracks, and water intrusion, can create more serious issues. If a downspout isn’t far away enough from the home, you might consider adding on downspout extensions as a solution for getting water away from the home. Also, make sure the grade around the house slopes away and not toward the home.

Observing The Air Conditioner

Walk around the house and get acquainted with the air conditioning unit. Pay extra close attention to plants that are growing too closely. For the AC to work at its maximum efficiency, you’ll want there to be more air around it. If it’s actually running, make note as to anything unusual with the loudness. Examine the cabinet more closely and look for rust stains on or around it. This can be an indicator of the unit’s age, and on the inside, rust and debris can signal the AC isn’t working properly. Even if you can feel cold air while you’re in the house, these signs can mean that the unit isn’t as efficient as it should be, resulting in higher utility bills.

Also, before you make an offer on the home, ask about seeing the last few heating and air bills. This will give you a clear indication of what to expect on costs moving forward.

In Summary

The home shopping process isn’t always the easiest, especially when it comes to buying an older home. That’s because older homes have history and require maintenance and care that past owners may or may not have been providing. Don’t simply fall in love with the look of the home when you’re shopping around. Take the suggestions mentioned above to heart, and you can avoid buying the proverbial money pit.

Photo Credit: aag_photos via Compfight cc

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