If there is anything I've learned from house hunting, it's the importance of asking the right questions.
I don't care if it gets on the agent's nerves. I want to know exactly what I'm getting into when I rent or buy a home. I've seen and lived in some homes that I shouldn't have lived in for as long as I did.
They had a ton of problems and created even more headache. For those of you who rent, you know how hard it can be to get a landlord to fix the issue.
So what do I look for when I'm on the home hunt? These are 5 things that are a big deal to me. A house has to meet all of these criteria at a minimum. There are a few other items that are important, but like I said, I'm picky and they probably don't apply to everyone. Let's get started.
This is one of my biggest pet peeves. I hate bugs! There is nothing worse than sitting on the couch, reading my 16-month-old a story about an itsy bitsy spider when one actually decides to plop down on my arm. Or even worse, his. I freak out.
Luckily, I have quite a bit of downtime at my day job. When I'm looking for a new place, like I am now, I spend my time at work researching pests and bugs and what to look for. I look up info on everything from termites big headed ants . Everything from fleas to bees.
Hah. See what I did there?
Anywho, the more you know, the better off you'll be when looking for a new home. The occasional bug is going to happen. But I'm not going to live anywhere that's infested with something that could hurt my babies.
Go into the basement if you need to get a look at the foundation. Look for what I call "wavy lines". Anything that might mean that the foundation is crooked or sinking.
A bad foundation is going to start there but will eventually start causing problems in other parts of the house.
In one of the first houses that I ever rented, there was a giant crack on one side of the house. The crack was in concrete, roughly two inches wide, and was at the top of some steps. I didn't think it was a big deal. The house was kind of old and anything could have happened.
The basement was full of wavy lines. I didn't know any better at the time, so I rented the house and it was an absolute mess.
For some reason, a lot of contractors back in the 60s and 70s didn't put the right kind of piping in houses. What I mean by this is that pipes were put into place that did not have enough of a downward angle.
I'm not sure what the name of this is or what it's supposed to be called, but I know what happens when it's not done properly. It causes leaks and clogs all over the home and is a disaster waiting to happen.
One day, while we were having dinner, a few drops came out of the hanging lamp above the dining room table. We didn't think much of it at the time. But a week later, while my husband was in the shower and I was eating dinner with the kids, water started pouring out of the ceiling.
This incident turned out to be an issue with pipes not being installed correctly. On top of that, the landlord was not in a huge hurry to fix it. I said, "How do you suggest we eat dinner? With filthy shower water spraying down my children?"
He replied with, "Can't you just go eat in another room?"
Needless to say, we didn't stay in that house much longer. The second we were able to find another place, we left.
Know the Area
No matter where you move, each city has places that are nice and places that aren't. And unfortunately, bad neighborhoods and good ones exist side by side in many cities.
You really want to do your research and learn more about the area. It's not just a matter of schools. Look around and talk to neighbors. Go to eateries and bars in the neighborhood to see if you and your family will fit in.
Spending time in the location before you rent or buy. How comfortable do you feel when you're out and about? This is a good gauge for how happy you will be if you decide to move into the community.
Inspect the Property
In some of the above parts of this post, I discuss checking out the foundation and looking for pests. You should also look at other components of the home before giving the proverbial thumbs up.
Look at the major appliance, including the refrigerator, the oven, washer dryer, as well as the bathrooms. Are they in good shape and did the previous owner or agent have them properly cleaned? How do the carpets or hardwood look? If things look gross, point this out to the agent and see if you can get a discount for having to clean the items yourself or better yet, if they'll have someone clean before you move in.
I also recommend checking out the water pressure as well as the yard. Are you going to have to mow? Are you allowed to plant anything or keep a garden? This is important information, as it can affect your security deposit.
I know I might be overly picky.
And I'm ok with that.
I'd rather be comfortable and picky than having toilet water leaking on my kids while they eat and are being eaten up by bugs. My children are the world to me and I'm not going to sacrifice their health and safety.