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What should I look for when walking through a home?

By Cameron Smits

It might be love at first sight. Family meals in the dining room, movie nights in the living room — your future could unfold as you pass through each doorway. But don’t forget to stay grounded and use your agent’s expertise to your advantage. The agent is there to act as the liaison between you and the vendor, the agent wants to the best outcome for you both.

Keep in mind, if the vendor or vendors agent is present during your walkthrough, be mindful of what you say. They may or may not want to sell to you if you’re too critical of their home.

Do not show too much enthusiasm, even if you love the home. You want to put your best-negotiating skills forward. Make sure you are actively taking notes whilst looking through the property and keep these questions front of mind.

What needs fixing? Take note of things like warped floorboards, cracks in the foundation or rusty water fixtures. Doors that don’t close all the way and cracks in the ceiling can reveal issues with the foundation. Does the heating & cooling work efficiently, along with electric appliances (e.g. Oven, stovetop etc)?

What comes with the home? And what will the owner leave behind? Window fixtures, rugs, appliances, furniture — what’s there during a walk-through might not stay. You need to ask this question as there may be some things the vendor plans to leave behind that you may not wish to have left. Some sellers use staging companies to spruce up the home’s appeal, and staging companies usually take every item back once the house is sold. If you love a particular throw rug that’s on display, ask your agent about including it with the home should you decide to make an offer.

How much sunlight does the house get? Take a look at the house’s sun exposure. Plenty of direct sunlight can save on heating costs in winter, but shade trees can help during the summer. Does the master bedroom face south? Expect a toasty room when the sun’s out.

Are renovations possible? Is the space right for you and all your belongings? If you’re considering renovations in the future, you’ll need to know if walls can be knocked down or rooms added. Your real estate agent can help you ascertain which walls are load-bearing and whether the area/street requires permits for certain upgrades or additions.

How’s the drainage? This is important to know to ensure your house isn’t going to flood in the next heavy storm. Keep an eye out for any water damage that may appear throughout the property.

After you’ve listed the pros and cons of the home, compare them to the pros and cons of the other homes you see. Which place will best suit your needs? What can you live with, and what can’t you live without?

Once you’ve settled on a home, your agent will help you prepare an offer. You’ll want to do this as soon as possible in a hot market.

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