Here are 7 things to look for when you visit a house for the second time
You found your dream home! The first tour was everything you had hoped it would be. The front door made you feel weak in the knees, the kitchen countertops gave you butterflies in your stomach and the French doors made you feel downright faint. It’s everything love is supposed to be, right? Not so fast, Juliet. Now that you’ve had a minute to think, it’s time to schedule the second tour and this time, we’re giving you a list of 7 things you need to look for to make sure this love connection is the real thing.
We’re sure you saw the roof when you first looked at the house, but did you really see it? On your second tour, make sure you check it out. What’s it made of? Can you see if it has any damage? Are there any water stains on the ceilings? Ask the seller or the listing agent if it’s hard for you to tell. Think of the roof as your future mother-in-law. It’s ok to ignore when everything is going well, but you don’t want to be on its bad side! All roofs will need to be replaced eventually and it’s usually a big expense so it’s important to know how much time it has left before you buy the house.
They say eyes are the windows to the soul and, like a person’s eyes, windows can tell you a lot about a house. On your second tour, pay close attention to the windows. What do you see when you look out and, maybe more importantly, what can other people see when they look in? If you have privacy concerns, you should make sure you can install window treatments to protect yourself. For your mental health, you’ll want to make sure they are letting in enough sunlight. If they don’t open or if there are large cracks around them, that could indicate a problem with the home’s foundation. If there is moisture inside or extreme drafts coming in around them, they will need to be replaced and that can be expensive.
It’s not the sexiest place in the house and you might not have even looked there on your first tour. That’s why it’s so important to check it out the second time. Think of the basement as the brains or the control center of the whole house. Most of the equipment that is going to impact your daily life is housed there, or maybe the attic or other space if the home doesn’t have a basement. Take a close look at the equipment including the hot water heater, electrical panel, heating and cooling equipment (if the home has it). What kind of shape is it in? Can you see any dates on it to indicate how old it might be? You’ll want to know as much as you can about the systems in the house before you buy it since, when they fail, it typically means an emergency repair. The more you can plan ahead for this work, the better. While you’re in the basement, look for any signs (and smells) of flooding or other water damage. A wet basement can lead to years of problems and frustrations so you’ll want to avoid it if you can, and if you can’t you’ll want to prepare yourself for it ahead of time.
Can you think of anything more romantic than being curled up by a fire on a cold night? Probably not, but there’s nothing less romantic than lighting your first fire and having the house fill up with smoke. If your dream home has a fireplace (or more than one) make sure you give them a good inspection on your second tour. Ask the owner or listing agent about them. Do they work? Have they been brought up to code? Are the chimneys in good condition? If any of this work needs to be done, it could be expensive and if the fireplace is one of the key selling points for you, you’ll want to know before you buy the house.
You probably noticed the appliances on your first visit to the house since the kitchen is typically a focal point of the home. On your second tour, it’s time to take a closer look. If you love them, make sure the seller is planning on leaving them behind. If they are definitely staying, open them up. If they look like they haven’t been cleaned in a while, that could be a sign that the seller wasn’t keeping up with routine maintenance in other parts of the house. If they are old or in poor condition, they’ll likely need to be replaced soon and that can be a major expense if you have to do it all at once.
Just like on a first date, a home that is for sale is putting its best foot forward. All of the normal clutter of your everyday life has been safely stored away so the house feels clean and open. But where did it all go? When you go back for that second tour, make sure you are aware of how much storage and closet space the home offers. If the home was staged by a professional, the current owners might have sent all of their stuff to a storage locker which means the house doesn’t have as much space as you imagined. Also keep in mind that older homes tend to have fewer closets so it’s important to know what you’re getting before you buy so you won’t have to live in clutter, even if it’s your own!
We certainly saved the best for last and it’s probably the last thing you want to think about when you’re imagining yourself in your dream home, but (no pun intended!) toilets are part of life and we need you to pay attention to them on your second tour. Are there enough of them for the size of your family? If you live alone, one toilet could be fine, but if you don’t, imagine that everyone has to go at once and how that might work. If a toilet leaks or rocks around on the floor, that could be a sign of a more serious plumbing problem that you’ll want to identify before you buy the house because it can be very expensive to fix depending on what kind of septic system you have.
If you’re cooled off…
…it doesn’t have to mean it’s over, but maybe you adjust your expectations and lower your potential offer. The house might still be a great match, but if you identified some problems either from this list or anything else, the good news is that you know about it in advance so you can be prepared mentally and financially for whatever needs to be done. You might even want to ask the seller to address some of the issues before closing which would be the best option for you. But maybe the problems are too much and you want to walk away. Send that house a Dear John letter. The upside to this is that it happened before you went any further in the process and, just like the advice your mom would give you after a bad date, the right one is out there, honey. Just keep looking!