Look Beyond the Pretty Things When Buying a Home, Says REALTOR® Christine Lovatt
Buyers are often distracted when viewing homes. Their attention is drawn to the staging and furnishings, fresh paint and stylish décor.
It may be human nature, but you’re doing yourself a disservice by not focusing on the really important things. Instead, buyers should focus on the bones of the home and be on the lookout for any flaws, as many can be quite expensive to repair.
“Buyers are almost always distracted by the ‘bling’ and that’s why staging is done by some Realtors®. I’ve seen homes in terrible condition staged to look like the cutest house You have to remember that the house doesn’t come with all that furniture and sometimes even the light fixtures are excluded,” says REAL ESTATE AGENT Christine Lovatt.
Instead, buyers should focus on the following:
- the Windows – Are they newer? Is there condensation or fog? Are they made of wood, which requires maintenance? Windows are very expensive to replace.
- Doors – Look for spaces that let in the cold, ill-fitting doors or warped steel, which can happen when a screen door has been installed.
- Furnace and Air Conditioner – Try to determine the age of these two items, as they cost over $5,000 to replace.
- Roof – Look for curling shingles. A warped roof can indicate that there is moisture under the shingles or that the roof is poorly supported. A new roof can cost upwards of $7,000, depending on the size and different rooflines of the home.
- Electrical panel – Check if it is obsolete or fused under 100 amps and if the wire is copper or aluminum. Your insurance will most likely require you to upgrade the panel to 100 or more; you may need to fix the aluminum to be safe, and it will cost you several thousand dollars.
- Downspouts and gutters – These must be properly placed and in good working order, to direct water away from the house.
- Foundations – Be on the lookout for large cracks, which can let water into the basement. Another sign to look for is leaks around basement walls, which can be signs that the weeping tile is not working well. This is a very expensive repair that can go well over $15,000.
- sump pump – Make sure there is a working sump pump. Some areas are wetter than others, like a housing estate built on an old swamp, where you’ll need the sump pump to keep all the water out of the basement.
Also, be on the lookout for any cracks in the drywall. Any spot or wet spot may indicate a roof leak. You should also be on high alert for an old or poorly maintained paved or stone driveway; these can cost thousands of dollars to replace or repair.
“The most expensive items you can see are the ones that many buyers pay the least attention to,” the agent explains.
Lovatt prefers that buyers look for homes that have good bones. But what exactly does this common expression mean? “Good bones in a house mean a strong, well-built foundation. The floor joists are the right size and spread over the right width; they don’t squeak or bend when you walk through them. A steel beam is nice to see in an unfinished basement. The house just feels strong! she says. “You can still make the interior look pretty if you get a good start with the basics.”
While agents are not allowed to hide shortfalls, some sellers try to cover up certain imperfections. Be on the lookout for boxes or objects placed along basement foundation walls, hoping to hide cracks or leaks. Some use pretty draperies to draw your attention away from old windows, freshly painted ceilings to hide stains, or they leave lots of items on a kitchen counter hoping to hide marks or burns on the counter.
Others use shower curtains to hide poorly caulked bathtubs with rusty drains or small furniture to disguise the fact that a room is really small. A picture can hide a large hole in the wall. Large storage rooms can make it seem like there is a lot of storage in the house when in fact those rooms will be moved with the seller.
“When I first bought a house in High Park, I missed that the electrical outlets were only two holes, no ground. The bed that looked like a king was actually two twin beds, because you couldn’t don’t run a box spring up and around the stairs to get him into the bedroom. The furnace was so old it was smoking and burning the first time we turned on the heat!” Lovat said. “So when I go out with first-timers buyers, I do everything I can to prevent them from not seeing all the faults!”
Of course, a home inspection will help you recognize all of these issues and more, but in today’s market, many people buy without including this clause.
Says Lovatt, “Take a home inspector with you for a quick overview of your exhibit. It also gives you an idea of what the future maintenance of the property will require and helps you assess what you should put aside to save for these possible repairs.
She recommends hiring a knowledgeable real estate agent who cares about getting you the best possible home in the best possible condition.
To book a free consultation, visit List With Lovatt, call 705-717-8726, or book direct.