If you're in the process of buying a house or are getting ready to, you may be overwhelmed by all the possibilities - and all the details. It can be easy to lose sight of some of the things that are important to you when you're seduced by pretty countertops or kids playing out on the street. Making a checklist of those must-haves will help keep you on track.
Is the bedroom count and general floorplan workable? You may be tempted by a house that's nicely staged and has that elegant-yet-warm feel you want. But look beyond the furnishings to make sure what you need is what the house has.
Is there a place for your dogs to hang out? And is there a place for the dog bowls to go? This only seems like a little thing until you're moved in and are constantly tripping over their food. When the dogs are part of your life, you'll want the house to accommodate them, and you.
Is there a place for your kitchen garbage can? See above. This "little thing" will drive you crazy. Is it enough to keep you out of the home? Probably not, but it's worth noting for situations where you can't decide between a couple of homes. It might be the little things that make the difference.
What direction does the house face? Facing west is great when it means you get to watch the sunset every day. It's not so great when it means your electric bill costs as much as your mortgage from May to September because your air conditioning is running 24–7.
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Where are the structural walls? If you're planning an extensive renovation, it might be a good idea to bring in an engineer to make sure the walls you want to remove won't bring the house down.
Is there enough pantry space? A poor kitchen layout, and one that isn't easily remedied by a renovation, is a deal killer for many people.
What shape is the floor in? Look carefully. Replacing floors can be a big and expensive undertaking. Even if you have an inspection and the floors are in decent condition, they may not match your style. It'll be up to you to decide if you can live with them.
Where's the nearest Target? If location is important to you and the house you're looking at is over the mountain and through the woods, think hard about what you're willing to compromise. It might be that you start to hate being so far removed from amenities once the shine of a new house has worn off.
Where is the nearest Starbucks? Not a coffee drinker? Doesn't matter. The "Starbucks Effect" means higher home appreciation if you live within proximity.
Is there an HOA? This is important to know if you're looking to paint your home purple and display your collection of flamingos on the lawn.
How are the schools? Even if you don't have kids and never plan to, a good school district is important to home values. Pay special attention to the possibility of being rezoned. This happens quite often in growing areas, and, while you won't always know what's going to happen in the future, impacted schools and districts and chatter about coming changes might give you reason to pause.
What are the acoustics like? If there's a ridiculous echo coming from the upstairs bonus room, think about what that's going to sound like with two young kids playing.
Is the wiring what you need? If you need your home to accommodate all the latest technology, you may have some extensive rewiring to do. Checking it out before you buy will help you feel confident you can achieve your goals.
How's the yard space? Too little, or too much, space can make the day-to-day living less than ideal.
What's the neighborhood makeup? Seeing a lot of young couples on the street? Or maybe it's mainly older couples you're seeing. Spending a little time in your neighborhood you're considering can tell you a lot about who your neighbors could be, and whether you'll fit in.
Are there sex offenders nearby? Unfortunately, checking to make sure the people around you are decent is a reality today. Family Watchdog allows you to enter an address and see if there are any sex offenders in the area.
Did you schedule an inspection? You may be tempted to buy a home as is, especially in a hot market, but if you forgo an inspection, you'll be on the hook for any issues that arise with the home down the line.