If you’re in the market for a new home, there’s little doubt that you’ll look at several houses before you make your final decision. But how do you make the right decision for you and your family? According to professional buyer’s agent, Dave Axness, keeping a scorecard, or walkthrough checklist, is the best way to compare homes. One of the owners of Axness & Kofman Real Estate, Dave knows his stuff. Here’s what to look for during each open house that you attend:
As you drive to each open house, pay attention to the neighborhood that you are driving through. Look at the condition of other homes, pay attention to the noise level and watch to see how many cars you see parked or driving down the street. You may also want to look at the proximity to parks and playgrounds, schools and places of worship, depending on the needs of your family.
2. House Exterior
As you pull into the driveways of the homes that are for sale, take a close look at their exteriors. Look to see if the roof is in good repair, what type of siding material has been used and if the windows appear to be of high quality. If a home sits on a slab, take a walk around the house and look for major cracks or chips in the foundation. Look for large trees that are planted close to the houses, any walkways that have been installed and look at the condition of any garages or outbuildings.
Does the house you’re looking at have a fence? If you have pets or small children, this may be something that you want. Look to make sure that any installed fences are in good repair. Is the landscaping on the property well-cared for or is it out of control? If there is a deck or patio attached to the house, look to see if the home-owner maintained it well. If there is a pool, hot tub or pond on the property, look to see if it is set up in a way that will be safe for your family.
4. House Interior
The interior of the home is what you will pay the closest attention to. Look in each room of the home and determine its functionality for your family. For instance, you may want to look for ample storage space, a large floor plan or even inspect the ductwork. Different things matter to different people. Remember that ugly wall paper can be taken down and carpets can be replaced. What you should look for is function and structure. Just because the current home owner’s taste doesn’t match your own doesn’t mean that the house itself isn’t right for your family.
How many cars do you own? How many bicycles does your family have? Pay attention to where you will be able to park your vehicles, both two-wheel and four. Will you be forced to park in the street or park one car behind another in your driveway? Does the house have a garage big enough for both of your cars and the kids’ bikes? Again, what matters to you may not make a difference to someone else. Decide what type of garage/carport you want and make your real estate agent aware of your requirements. This way, no one’s time will be wasted by visiting homes that don’t meet your needs.
Create a rating list and make several copies. Include all of the above information and anything else that could be a deal breaker for your family. As you participate in an open house, jot the address of the property down at the top along with a brief description of the home. Give each category a rating of one (poor) to four (excellent). When you’ve visited several homes, these checklists will help you to narrow down your choices and find the home that is best suited to your family.
Robin Knight writes for real estate blogs. If you live in the DC area, click here to find out more about Alexandria real estate.