10 Things to Look for When Buying a Home

So, you’re getting ready to buy a new home. You’ve done your research, picked out your neighborhood, and know exactly what you’re looking for in a home. But what do you do once you’re viewing potential dream homes?

We’ve put together a checklist of ten things that you observe in every single house that you view. These things will help you find any potential or expensive problems that you will have to face if you decide to purchase the house. Looking out for these things on the first walk-though of the house will save you time and money as you weed out the obvious (and not-so-obvious) “no’s” during the home-buying process.


House Viewing Checklist:

1. Look at the roof.

Does the roof look new or old? Are there any obvious signs of damage on it? Replacing or repairing a roof is a very expensive endeavor. If you are able to see damage to the roof without an inspector, you can expect an expensive replacement in your future if you buy that home.

2. Observe the smell when you walk in the door.

Look out for the obvious bad smells like cigarette smoke and pet urine. It is possible to get these smells out, but they like to linger. On the other side of the coin, be wary of any house that has an overpowering good scent. If the smell of cookies, vanilla, or candles hit you in the face when you walk in the door, there’s a chance that they are trying to cover up bad smells that are lingering underneath.

3. Closely observe the layout of the house.

Does the layout of the house suit you needs? Are the common areas a good size? Are there any awkward or cramped hallways? Would you have to make any major renovations to make the layout of the house make sense for you?

4. Check under the sinks.

Plumbing is included in the inspection stage of the home buying process but checking under the sinks can give you a clue as to the state of the house plumbing. Check for any leaks or bad DIY jobs.

5. Touch everything.

Turn on and off all the faucets, open and close all the doors and windows, turn on and off all of the fans and light switches, check inside all of the cabinets, and flush all the toilets. These are things you will be doing every day in your home, so it is important to make sure that everything is in good working order.

6. Look at the storage available.

Does this home provide adequate storage for you? Some older homes don’t have built in closets, so you will have to make sure all of your things fit in armoires and dressers, or commit to renovating and adding closets. If it is a newer home, make sure the storage is enough to house everything you want to stow away.


7. Listen to the ambient noise.

Are you on a busy street or a back road? Ask the neighbors what it is like at night. You may prefer more or less noise outside, so make sure you like what you hear. Listen for the noises inside the house as well. Is the hum of the A/C normal or annoying? How thin are the walls, can you hear people talking on the other side?

8. Look down.

Look at the flooring in each room. Is it old and dingy or well taken care of? Is it a messy DIY job? Are the floors level or can you see obvious buckles, bumps, and slopes? Replacing the flooring can get expensive and labor-intensive, but it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker.

9. Look up.

Make sure to look at the ceiling in every room. Are there cracks or water stains? These could give you clues to bigger problems hiding out of sight.

10. Inspect the building materials.

While older homes are typically built with really solid materials, newer homes are often built with cheap materials to cut costs. The most obvious giveaway of cheap materials is the kitchen cabinets. If the cabinets are made out of fiberboard, it is almost guaranteed that other elements of the house were made out of cheap materials.



None of these problems need to be absolute deal breakers. If you fall in love with a house but hate the flooring, that doesn’t mean you have to pass it up. You just need to make sure that you have money in your budget to make the repairs and renovations needed.

Some things, like a bad roof, older plumbing, and structural renovations will cost you more money when you first buy the house since you will have to address those almost immediately. This is where you need to decide if those kinds of problems are a deal breaker or not. The smaller things like the flooring and doorknobs don’t typically need immediate attention and it still may be worth buying the house.

Ultimately, you decide what works for you and what kind of problems you are willing to take on when you buy a house. This checklist will help you keep a lookout for any potential problems so that you can be informed and knowledgeable about your future home.

Rachel Morris