Looking at houses? What should you look for?

Looking at houses? What should you look for?

Looking at houses is the most fun part of the home buying process, but it can also be overwhelming. How do make sure you’re picking the right one? Is it a good buy? And what should you check out first?

Here’s a few tips to keep you organised.

Looking at houses

Obviously you’ve already checked out the price. You’d never look at houses you have no chance of affording, right?!  So let’s start with the house itself.


Ask yourself before you enter the house, “Would I want to live here?”  If the answer is no, there’s no point in going any further.

If you’ve got young children you might want to avoid houses on traffic-filled busy streets.  Or a buyer with a sensitive nose probably shouldn’t buy a house downwind from a pig farm!

In fact, some home buyers find it a good strategy to do a drive-by of all houses they’re interested in before scheduling a time to go inside. Why waste your time if a feature of the location is a deal breaker for you?

House features

You probably already have a list of must-have features.  If you need a single story house for a family member who can’t manage stairs, there’s not point in checking out other features like the insulating or heating system. Same with the number of bedrooms or a home office that allows you to meet with clients.

You may have a list of features that you can compromise on, but make sure the must-have features are considered first.  A house that won’t meet your needs could be another deal breaker.

The “feel” of the house

Does the house feel like a place you’d like to live? Does it have enough natural light for you? Is it cramped or spacious?  Some things that make a house feel bad are easily changed, but what about things that are hard to change?

Often the “feel” of a house is a subconscious reaction that can be hard to put into words, but if you have a real dislike for open-plan living spaces or properties with small yards then this will sway your views on the property from there on in, even if it meets all your other must-have features.

House condition and systems

Try and look at a house like a home inspector, not a home buyer. But there’s no point in checking out the chimney or boiler if you decided five minutes after walking in the door that you could never live in the house.

But if everything else looks good, take your time checking out the important (and expensive) parts of the house.

  • How old is the boiler system?

  • Do you see any signs of damp or mildew on the walls?

  • Are the roof tiles in good shape?

  • Do you see signs of leaks when you look under the sinks and around the toilets?

If the house looks good enough to make an offer on, you want to take everything into consideration before you offer a price.

Staying organized

When you’re looking at houses, it’s helpful to be organized. Especially since after you see 5 or 6 houses, they’ll get confused in your mind.  Why not keep a checklist of your must-have features so you can compare the properties easily if you’re viewing a few in the same day.

When you look at houses check out the location, features, how it feels to you, and the condition, in that order. It will keep you organized. It will keep you from wasting time. And it will help you find a house you can live with and love.

Credits: Thanks to Pamela Douglas Webster.