15 important tips to check before you buy a house (Checklist) is a life saver while in the process of buying a house.
The housing market is crazy right now and it is not a good situation for buyers. As soon as you see a house you like online, it is already marked pending or contingent.
Unfortunately, we decided to buy a house this year when we moved from the West Coast back to the East Coast. We looked at a lot of houses.
Every house we liked and decided to put an offer in was already marked pending shortly after hitting the market. This one house I absolutely fell in love with was sold even before the showing started because a buyer made an incredible offer without even looking at the house in person. He bought it just by looking at the realtor pictures. No inspection required. Crazy and so sad for me.
So, we started getting stressed out – and this is when you make mistakes. It is not a good situation if you feel under pressure. Try to stay calm and know, the right house will be there for you. The process will just take a little longer.
Let’s dive right into what to look out for:
Make a list of what is important for you and your situation
Make a list before you look at a house and take as many notes as possible in order to keep track especially if you are looking at many houses.
Here are some important features you should look at before you make a decision on making an offer:
What is your first impression of the house? Does the house make you feel good? Do you like what you are seeing? Is it nice and bright or dark and dull when entering the house? Do you love the flow of the house?
Let’s start with 15 important tips to check before you buy a house (Checklist)
15 important tips to check before you buy a house (Checklist)
- Baseboards and trims: Are they in good condition, painted and good looking, or chipped and partly missing? Don’t laugh about this one, it is a pretty awful job to fix all the baseboards and paint them fresh.
2. Doors: How do they look? Clean and in good shape? Is the hardware working? Are the doors painted, closing well, and in good condition?
3. Vanities: Open the drawers, do they run well? How do the countertops look and the hardware? Is the bathtub old and yellowing, is the vanity in good condition or wood chipped at the corners, is the countertop scratched?
4. Kitchen cabinets: Replacing cabinets can be expensive so have a good look at the kitchen cabinets. Are they painted? Open up drawers and doors and look at the inside. Do they look good?
5. Appliances: Open the oven door, look inside the microwave and the fridge. Replacing all appliances is expensive. So consider when you look at the kitchen if you are prepared to replace appliances as we did.
6. Sinks: Check the faucets and let the water run. Is a plastic cover inside the kitchen sink to cover up scratches? Lift it up and check it. Could be that the sink is scratched and chipped. So look at it closely.
7. Floor: What kind of floor is installed? Can it be easily updated? Are most of the floors covered with rugs? Then check under the rugs to make sure there are no scratches, gaps, or discolorations.
8. Windows: If possible open some windows to check the condition of the windows. Also, open up the blinds to see if the windows are fogged.
9. Closet space: Is the closet space big enough for you and your family? Is it practical? Are there enough shelves and hanging opportunities for your clothes?
10. Light fixtures: Are the light fixtures updated to LED or is the whole house still furnished with the very first collection of lights and fans? Are the fans at least clean or are they covered with dust? Also, check the A/C filters if they have been exchanged recently or are they full of dust and dirt? That tells a lot about the current owners how they took care of their house.
11. Floor plan: How is the flow of the house? Does an open floor plan work for you or do you need a separate office for work, do you like an open kitchen and a formal dining room?
12. Back yard: How big is the backyard? Do you like a big yard with lots of grass and bushes to trim? Or do you like a smaller area that is easier to keep in good condition?
13. Garage and parking space: Is the garage big enough for your car, do you have enough space to park your toys?
14. Shed: How about a shed for lawn mower, garden tools, and grill? Is there enough space to store all your gadgets?
15. Do you love the overall look of the house? Is it appealing to you?
Here is a list for you to download and print out:
Print it out and take it with you when looking at the house. Really, take your time, check all the items that are important for you and then decide if this is the right house to make an offer on. If more than 3 points on your list are not checked off as good, I would really think about if this is the right house.
Of course, also check out the neighborhood, is it a neighborhood you feel good in, does it have a pool, a clubhouse, tennis courts, is the house in a high traffic area, next to a playground? How does the house look on the outside? Is it freshly painted and looks appealing? Do you mind noise or are you looking for a quiet place? Add your own favorites to the list, what is important for you?
Do NOT rush into buying a house, be sure it is the one. Go look at it a couple of times and make sure you check all the things that are important for you and your situation. Don’t make too many compromises. It is not worth it.
If it is the right house, then make an offer. Just don’t think too long about it, because right now is not the time for long considerations. But on the other hand, don’t rush it either, there is the right house out there for you.
Don’t make the same mistakes we made and ending up buying a fixer-upper.
On the other hand, buying a fixer-upper has its plus points too, you can make it exactly the way you want it – if the price is right.
BUT – best tip ever – make sure you request a deep clean before signing the contract. Here are some pictures of the house when we took it over!!!
This is how the kitchen appliances looked on the day of closing. Absolutely disgusting.
Every baseboard and trim was eaten up. This is no fun to replace or to fix.
Of course, do not skip the step to have the house inspected. We got a new AC because ours wasn’t working well, we also negotiated a fresh house paint and didn’t pay the asking price.
What you can do to update a house:
- Get fresh wall paint. The best tip to paint walls is when you choose a pretty white or very light grey. This sets the picture for accent colors and wallpaper if you want some colorful accents.
- Exchange or clean appliances. This is not cheap but we wanted to have new appliances because the ones in the house were already old and looked pretty disgusting.
- Countertops can be exchanged or easily updated. I painted my Formica countertops with a paint kit and they look now like marble. Here is how you can do that: How to make Formica look like marble
- Paint your kitchen cabinets if they are in bad shape. This takes a while if you want to look good but it is so worth it. Here is a tutorial on How to paint kitchen cabinets easy and fast
- Add some accents with stencils. This goes very fast, is cheap, and looks so good. You don’t need to stencil a whole wall. Here is how to use stencils on walls.
- Get rid of old light fixtures and add LED lights to update the house. This is not really so expensive if you choose the right LED fixtures.
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Here are some very affordable updates you can make if your house is not move-in ready:
New light fixtures. We use these flush mount LED light fixtures and love them.
This looks great in the kitchen:
Or these light fixtures with fans which we absolutely love. The black looks really good with the white wall paint:
Add some colorful wallpaper
Add stencils in your living room or hallway
Add a fresh wall color
If you want to update your newly bought house, get it painted or paint it yourself before you move in. This makes such a difference to have a wall paint you actually love and that fits your furniture. If your furniture is darker, make sure your wall paint is light.
I used Extra White from Sherwin Willams for most walls. The hallway is in a light grey.
More whites that look great are:
Fundamental White, Storyteller, and Snowbound all from Sherwin Williams. If in doubt, choose a warm white.
Make sure to get a sample paint and try it out in various rooms to see if the color actually fits your furniture. The paint color might look o.k. in the shop but not in your living room. So definitely try it out before you start painting.
You can’t see it here really well, but some whites looked really bad in my living room. So I picked three different whites and got samples, painted a larger part of the wall, and selected the one which I liked the best in my house.
Update your bathroom with new mirrors
An easy update if your bathrooms look pretty dated is to get new mirrors and light fixtures and take the dated-looking ones out. I got some mirrors from Goodwill and they look great in my bathrooms.
Here are some cool choices:
Summary of 15 important tips to check before you buy a house (Checklist)
In summary, my tip is to take your time. The right house will show up. If you don’t have a lot of time and patience, at least use the Checklist and make sure that 80 % of your desires are checked. Also, make sure whatever you don’t like can be fixed easily and won’t cost an arm and a leg.
I mean, buying a house is expensive and you really shouldn’t rush into it.
For us, we looked at around 20 houses and got very frustrated because everything we really liked, was gone within a minute. So we picked this ‘fixer upper’ and we made it work for us. But, it was a lot of work and also a lot of money which we actually didn’t plan on spending.
So, if you want to feel good about your home purchase, try to check most of the important features for you.
My most popular article you should definitely read if you just bought a house:
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