4 Things That Every Homebuyer Should Watch for During the Walkthrough
Wednesday Jun 16th, 2021
by: Olivie Butcher - Finance Writer and Blogger
You've been waiting patiently for the right property to come along. You've been talking to your real estate agent more than some of your relatives in the past few weeks. And, right when you least expect it, you suddenly find the house that makes you call your realtor on the spot and say "Let's book a walkthrough!".
But as your agent is opening the lock and opening the front door, you start to wonder if there are any red flags you should be looking for.
There are four key things to pay attention to when you're getting ready to tour a property.
1. Neighborhood Trends
Have you ever seen a horror movie where the clueless protagonist is walking through an eerily quiet neighborhood at night? Every step increases the suspense and when the hero reaches his destination, the viewers don't feel good about his chances.
It's notable because all the houses he walks past to get to that point are setting the scene with the help of an ominous soundtrack.
So what does this have to do with your house hunt? More than you might think because the surrounding neighborhood of your dream house can set the tone for both your future property value and your overall quality of life.
Are there new houses and developments being built in the area? Is the area about to become the noisiest intersection in town?
When you've spent time establishing your credit score and following all the best financial practices in the U.S. and Canada, it pays to understand how neighborhood trends can help you make the right decision for you and your loved ones.
2. The Smell
You know how some places smell like cinnamon buns and happiness while others have a danker, "What is that?" kind of smell clinging to them?
As it turns out, the ideal scent of a place isn't always just a matter of preference. It can also tell you something about what you may be up against.
Is there a musty scent all over the place? That could be an early warning sign that the house you're looking at could have a mold problem that's just not visible yet.
And your concerns around smell don't stop there.
A second consideration around the house's smell is whether the scent can be aired out. If the former owner was a habitual smoker in a carpeted house, it may be very difficult to make the smell disappear. And this in turn is a factor that you may want to consider when you're negotiating or discussing the properties you want to make an offer on.
In short, if you notice a strong odor during your walkthrough, you have everything to gain from trusting your nose.
3. Problems With the Foundation
If you've ever heard the phrase "Cracks in the foundation.", this is where that saying comes from.
The thing about having weaknesses in your foundation is that depending on how severe the problem is, you could be looking at a house that's both unstable and uninsurable. And once issues with the foundation reach that point, you're likely better off just finding a new place to live.
With foundation issues, there are many little signs and signals that you need to be aware of. For instance, did you know that sticking windows and doors could mean that there's a problem with the foundation? Did you know that cracks located indoors can sometimes be another tell?
To be clear, not every crack is a sign that the house is going to cave in on you. But it pays to be aware of when you're seeing potential indications that you may need to seek a second opinion from a home inspector.
4. DIY Work
Is there a paint spot that appears to be a slightly different color than the rest of the kitchen wall? Did the seller install a set of bathroom cabinets themselves?
Some people are just incredibly good with tools and looking to save money. But if you notice that the house has had extensive DIY work done to it, that could be a sign that there's a deeper problem with the house, such as wiring issues or water damage, that may need to be fixed.
Touring a house can be an overwhelming experience. You're trying to answer questions like "Is this house a good fit for me?" and "Could I see myself living here?". But you're also looking for signs that the house may be more trouble than it's worth.
The items we've pointed out are important to watch for. But with the help of a home inspector, you can do a deeper dive into the merits of the house before you decide to make a formal offer.