Purchasing a home represents the single largest financial decision many of us will ever make. It’s probably also where you’ll hang your hat for many years to come. But before even eyeing all that mortgage paperwork, you have to find a house you deem fit for such a long-term financial commitment. Here are four things to look for when buying your first (or next) home.
Make Sure It’s Level
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The foundation of any home can serve as both its strongest and weakest point. To make matters worse, it takes a keen eye to spot the difference between one that was laid well and one that clearly wasn’t. Look for any cracks longer than a foot long found emanating from the base of the outside walls. A cracked, not-quite-level foundation can be the source of costly home repairs later down the road.
Research the Neighborhood Your Home Is In
No matter how much love you have for your favorite future home, it’s worth doing the legwork to see if it’s in good company or not. Anything from school systems to business startups to grocery stores to sociodemographics can affect the market value of your home immensely. Browse nearby listings, and don’t be afraid to ask your realtor very specific questions on the area’s economic stability. Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a home that may be worth half of what you paid for because of neighborhood hardships years later is a headache you’ll want to avoid.
Use All Your Senses to Feel, Smell, and See Imperfections
Now’s not the time to be reserved or shy. When touring any home you’re interested in, feel to make sure the walls are free of damp patches or perhaps weak spots caused by termite damage. Smell to be sure there’s no mold or sour odors that may mean there’s water damage behind the drywall. Ask if you can see the attic space to gauge whether or not the insulation is due for a change. If something seems off, it probably is.
Be Sure It’s Had a Professional Home Inspection
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The wisest thing you can do during this whole process is to contract a licensed home inspector to tour your potential home or make sure an inspection has already been performed. While you can weed out the obvious weak points of your potential abode in person, it takes a trained eye to spot the less-pronounced problems. Be it an HVAC system that needs to be redone or discovering the water heater is about to kick the can, a proper home inspection will give you a thorough breakdown on what’s right with your prospective house — and what’s not.
Buying a home should be a glorious, wondrous day in your life, much like a wedding would be. By performing these precautionary measures before signing along the dotted line, you can save yourself from an unnecessary heartbreak and messy divorce — and instead live happily ever after in your new home.