Buying a home is a big deal and a big event for a first time buyer as well as an experienced buyer. It is not something that is an inexpensive purchase and not something that should be taken lightly. It is recommended in most cases that a home inspection be performed when purchasing a home as there are items that are commonly found during a home inspection.
While it is understandable that excitement levels and emotions when buying a home are very high there are important things that can be overlooked when walking through a home. Before you spend hundreds of dollars on a home inspection, make sure you have a great real estate agent representing you as a buyers agent. They should know what things to look for and make sure to point them out to their clients. If you do not have a great real estate agent working on your behalf, find one, and if unable to do so for some reason, make sure you look at the following things when viewing a home!
Replacing a roof can be the most expensive replacement cost of a homes “mechanics.” A roof’s lifespan can vary significantly depending on the type. A shingle roof can last as little as 15-20 years and as high as 50+ years. Metal roofs can last even longer than a shingle roof. Also, if the property has a portion of roof with little to no “pitch,” it’s common for a membrane roof to be used. When viewing a property there are many ways to get a good idea of the roof’s age. Take a look at the “key-ways” on the roof. If they are spaced far apart, it normally means the roof has not been replaced recently. Other things to check for can include loose, missing, or curled shingles.
Heating and/or Cooling Unit(s) Age
Similarly to the roof, the cost to replace a heating and/or cooling unit can be expensive as well. The cost of a new furnace can range from a couple thousand dollars up to $5,000+ depending on brands or efficiency. Generally, a furnace will have a lifespan of approximately 20-25 years if serviced regularly while an air conditioning unit will generally have a lifespan of approximately 15-20 years if serviced regularly. In a perfect world, every seller would have a sticker on the heating and cooling unit indicating the year it was installed and also every time it has been serviced, however, this in most instances is not the case. One way to possibly find out the age of the heating and/or cooling system(s) is by looking at the serial number. Often the manufacture date is included within the serial number. For example, a serial number beginning with “0193” could possibly mean the first month (January) of 1993.
Check to make sure the sinks, faucets, and toilets are functioning properly. Make sure the sinks are draining properly and there are no leaking pipes under the sink. Make sure the water pressure from the faucets is acceptable. Make sure the toilets are flushing properly and they are secure and not loose. It also can be a good idea to smell and/or taste the water.
Water Heater Age
The cost to replace a water heater is not huge. Generally a water heater can be installed by a professional for between $500-$1,000. The lifespan of a water heater is approximately 10-12 years depending on many variables. While the cost is not substantial to replace, the age of the water heater should be looked at when viewing a home. Finding the age of the water heater is similar to finding out what the age of the heating and/or cooling system is. In some cases, the water heater will have a sticker indicating what the “build date” of the unit is. The build date most likely is not the install date as the unit could sit in the contractors warehouse for up to a year or more. Also a consideration is the option of purchasing an electric water heater. Although they are more expensive to purchase, their life expectancy is typically longer and timers can be installed on them as well, increasing efficiency.
There are many different types of electric services. They can vary from brands, fuses or circuit breakers, and also amperage. Many homes have a 100 AMP circuit breaker service, however, it is not uncommon to find homes with the older style fuse panel boxes. Newer homes are being built with 200 AMP circuit breaker services. It is important to look at the electric service when viewing a home. One major reason is that some lenders will require at least an electric service of 100 AMPs, so if a home has a 60 AMP panel box with fuses, there could be a problem with the bank approving the loan. There are a couple tips to finding out what the electric service AMPs are. First you can often open the panel box and the main shutoff will have the number of AMPs on it. Another way to check what the amperage is by looking at the width of the electrical service entrance cable. The thicker the entrance cable, the more amperage the service has.
Nothing is more frustrating than a window that is difficult to open or won’t stay open. Check out the windows to make sure they are functioning properly. Additionally check the condition of the paint in and around the windows. It is a nice feature when a home has the newer double-paned windows. It can help with the energy efficiency and overall cost to keep a home warm and/or cool.
The basement of a home can sometimes be a very good indicator of many things. First, check the basement for any water penetration or presence. If water is present, the first thing to be looking for is poor grading at the foundation of the home. If the grading looks pretty good, there could be more serious problems. In addition to water presence in basements, check out the walls of the basement. Look for large cracks, not small hairline cracks, as these can be possible structural problems. If the possibility of structural problems exists, be sure to hire a licensed home inspector who also maybe an engineer.
Remember, when viewing a home that you may possibly purchase, be aware of the above items. Again, if your real estate agent is not pointing out and/or explaining some of the above items, it maybe time to reconsider who is representing you!
What other important things do you suggest a buyer should be looking for when viewing a home?
Other Excellent Resources to Review When Buying a Home
- “How to Tell If You Need a New Roof” by Bill Gassett
- “How to Spot Pest Damage Before Buying a Home” by Realestate.com
- 4 Common Contract Contingencies to Be Aware of When Buying a Home
If you are considering the purchase of a home in Rochester, NY, contact us, as we’d be happy to explain why it is important for a buyer to be aware of the above items!
About the authors: The above article “7 Important Things to Look at When Viewing a Home” was provided by the Keith Hiscock Sold Team (Keith & Kyle Hiscock). With almost 30 years combined experience, if you’re thinking of selling or buying, we’d love to share our knowledge and expertise.
We service the following Greater Rochester NY areas: Irondequoit, Webster, Penfield, Pittsford, Fairport, Brighton, Greece, Gates, Hilton, Brockport, Mendon, Henrietta, Perinton, Churchville, Scottsville, East Rochester, Rush, Honeoye Falls, Chili, and Victor NY.
Visit our website at www.HiscockHomes.com.
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