If you're in the market for a new home, don't leave your choices to chance. Take control of the shopping experience by following your senses – specifically sight, sound, smell, and touch. Those four senses can help you decide between a great investment and a money pit. Here are some simple steps that will help you use your senses to choose your next home.
When it comes to finding a new home, the inspection has to start as soon as you pull up in the driveway. First, look up at the roof. Look for signs of missing or damaged shingles. Second, look at the trim. Look for signs of wood rot – areas where the paint is peeling and the wood is splitting. Finally, look at the front door. Look for signs that of cracking – especially cracks that are so large that you can see light coming through. These are all signs that the home has not been cared for properly.
Once you get inside the home, don't focus on aesthetics first. Instead, spend the first few minutes in the house focusing on what you hear – or don't hear. Listen for the sound of running water – particularly in the kitchen and bathrooms. If you can hear running water, take a look in the bathroom and kitchens to see if there's running water. If there isn't, and you can still hear the sound of running water, there might be a leak in the plumbing somewhere.
If you're interested in the house, make sure that you ask for a home inspection and have a meter test conducted. During the meter test, the water is turned off to the house and a reading is taken of the meter. After several minutes, the water is turned back on and the meter is read again. If the meter reading has changed, that means there's a leak that will need to be repaired.
Take a Deep Breath
While you're walking through the house, pay close attention to the odors. If you smell the strong aroma of air fresheners, you should take a closer look, especially inside cabinets. Air fresheners may indicate that the owner is trying to mask a mold problem. Open the cabinets and take a deep breath. If you can smell mold, there's a problem that will need to be addressed.
Don't be Afraid to Touch
Finally, don't be afraid to touch things during your walk-thru. This is particularly important if you notice wet spots on the interior or exterior walls. Press your hand up against the areas that appear to be moist. If they're spongy to the touch, the moisture could be caused by a leaky water pipe behind the wall. Make note of the area. This is another issue that should be looked at by a professional during a home inspection.
Now that you're in the market for a new home, make sure you don't get stuck with a money pit. Before you make an offer, take the time to look, listen, smell, and touch your way through the home. Contact a real estate agent for more assistance finding the home of your dreams.