Consumers: What are you looking for?

What do you want in a home?
Each of us is different, so it is important to formulate a list of the features and benefits you want in a home. It often pays to attend several open houses where sellers open up their homes to potential buyers. Many listings on the internet now include multiple photos or a virtual tour to provide a more detailed pre-view of the home to potential buyers. You can see a variety of options to help you develop a list of your requirements.

These issues should also be considered as you narrow your search:

  • Quality and availability of schools;
  • Property tax rates, income tax rates and other community expenses as compared with similar homes in other neighborhoods;
  • Utility expenses, trash collection and sewage disposal. Past utility expenses are available from the utility company;
  • Availability of public services such as police and fire protection;
  • Local zoning ordinances and condition of other properties in the neighborhood;
  • Proximity to work, access to public transportation and/or options for alternate routes.

Attention to details

Once you have begun to narrow down specific properties, look carefully at each house, examining the physical details, construction, neighborhood and any specific rules or regulations imposed on owners in the neighborhood. Pay particular attention to the following:

  • Condition and age of the roof.
  • Are the roof gutters and downspouts correctly installed and in good repair? 
  • Are the interior walls solid and suitably finished?
  • Are the floors firm and level? 
  • Do the ceilings sag or have evidence of leaks or cracks?
  • Are stairs and door frames level and well joined?
  • Is there any evidence of termites or dry rot?
  • What is the condition of the plumbing system? 
  • What is the condition of the heating and cooling system? 
  • What is the condition of the electrical system?
  • Is the property well drained? Landscaped?
  • Is the foundation in good condition? 
  • In what condition is the attic or crawl space? 
  • Check driveways, decks and patios for signs of problems.

Deed Restrictions, Special Assessments, and Home/ Condominium Owners’ Association Fees and Rules:

Deed restrictions, also known as restrictive covenants, are written agreements limiting the use of a property. They apply to all future owners of the property, not just the current owner(s). They may involve pet restrictions, type and height of fencing, restrictions on removal of trees, or not allowing your small business to be run out of your home.

You may also want to check to see if there is a Home Owners’ Association (HOA). There could be a fee due every month or every year to pay for the maintenance and upkeep of the common areas, such as the entrance to the subdivision.