Why does that dream home look so perfect in the listing photos but turns out to be more of a diamond-in-the-rough in person? While that new renovation looks great in the pictures, what’s really behind the too good to be true listing? When it comes to assessing a potential new home, the savvy buyer needs to be relentless in uncovering the true story. That waterfall showerhead is beautiful, but how’s the water pressure? Will the laundry room’s proximity to the living area prove to be a noise factor when you’re watching your favorite TV show? Do the neighbors keep odd hours? Before you submit an offer, think like a crime-scene detective and investigate the home to find out what’s behind that beautiful facade.
Play Traffic Cop
Before you take the time to tour a potential new home, make a point to do a few drive-bys. You can learn a lot by checking out the foot traffic – do the neighbors have kids or look like young professionals? Is the neighborhood noisy? Do cars constantly go up and down the street creating traffic noise? Is it an easy commute to your office? Test your morning and evening commutes from the house to find out how much time it would take you.
Take a Walk
Okay, so stalking the neighborhood by car is only step one. Now repeat the process on foot. How long does it take you to walk to the nearest coffee shop or park? While you’re at it, scope out the nearest public transportation stations and gas stations. A side benefit is that while walking you can check out the condition of the sidewalks and how well the neighbors maintain their homes and yards. A well-manicured neighborhood shows strong ownership pride and civic engagement.
Test-drive the Plumbing
One look and you’re hooked – the bathroom with wraparound glass doors and double vanity makes you want to sign the papers now. Don’t be swayed so quickly. How hard is the water pressure? Does the water heat up quickly? Try it out for yourself. This applies to both the bathroom and kitchen sinks. Water pressure might not be a deal breaker, but could indicate a leak or water problem if too low. Water not hot enough? Might be time for a new water heater. Both are expenses you need to be aware of beforehand.
Test the Windows
Go ahead….open a few windows. Can you hear traffic or the neighbors? This is especially important if they’re bedroom windows. Are you getting a cross breeze, or is the airflow blocked by neighboring buildings? Do you notice a draft when the windows are closed? They might need to be replaced. Windows are crucial to the overall look and feel of your home. Look into (No pun intended) and ask these questions before you buy.
Go Into the Light
If an open house takes place on a cloudy day, you might want to schedule a second viewing on a sunny one. Windows not only add beauty to a home, but can bring in much desired light especially in those high-traffic areas. Notice how the natural light flows through each room. Is the kitchen bright and sunny? Entryway inviting? If a room seems especially dark, the current paint color could be the cause of the problem. On the flip side, you’ll want to see how dark the bedrooms can get for proper sleep. If light filters through, even with the shades closed, you might have to consider adding room-darkening shades onto your shopping list.
Listen Up – To the Sounds of the Neighborhood
This is a biggie – especially in a condo situation – as neighbor noises, in particular, can drive condo owners insane. It’s wise to make multiple visits to the condo unit you’re eyeing to catch neighbors when they’re home and going about their day-to-day business. Be sure to find out if any children live in the building, as sound travels to those who live directly beneath. If there are multiple condos for sale in the same building, bring along a friend and have them walk around upstairs or in the adjacent units to see if the unit you are considering, is affected by the noise/foot traffic.
Once you’ve assessed noise levels coming from the outside, check how sound travels within the home. Is the dryer too loud? Can you carry on a conversation while the dishwasher is running? Is the TV in the living area audible in the bedroom due to thin walls? It’s better to know upfront if you’ll need to invest in insulation to muffle the sound.
Scope Out Storage
When it comes to looking for a new home, one of the most desired items on the wish-list involves storage. You can’t seem to get enough! Prior to listing, some sellers clear the clutter which gives you a better idea of how much storage is really available. However, many don’t go to the trouble, and it’s sometimes difficult to tell what you’re really getting. Be a step ahead of the game, and take along a tape measure to record closet and storage area dimensions. The space may actually be larger than it appears and will serve your purpose. You can also think about taking those dimensions and planning out a closet schematic on-line to help fully utilize all the available space based on your needs.
Play with Marbles
The home may be beautiful and everything you’ve dreamed of, but if those newly stained hardwood floors aren’t level, you will be getting more than you’ve bargained for. How to know for sure? Bring a marble along. Discreetly place the marble on the hardwood floors – does it start to roll or stay put? A structural problem could be present if the slope is especially steep. Keep in mind even a slightly uneven floor can come into play when you are making a bid for the home. Don’t be taken by surprise after you’ve already moved in.
Buying a home is probably the most important (and expensive) purchase you will ever make. You wouldn’t buy a car without taking a test drive so why not apply the same philosophy to your home buying experience? You’ll encounter less surprises down the road!
Tom Reese has 20+ years experience in helping his clients sell their homes for a price that sells and makes them a profit. Tom has helped his clients buy and sell property in every neighborhood in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati.
About Tom Reese
Helping my clients attain their dreams has been the foundation of my success. With my strong attention to customer service, I have earned my clients continued support and referrals. Put my enthusiasm and dedication to work for you!
Call Tom anytime at