Buying your first home is an exciting but also challenging experience. You’ll have to consider the cost of the home, fees for a real estate agent, location, size, and much more. Aside from the financial and logical decisions, you’ll also have to look a little more seriously at the features and building of the homes you’re considering. Here are some of the top features and first home necessities you should look for when buying your first home:
Face Of Your Home
When you’re touring homes, the first thing you’re going to notice is the face of the home. For many homebuyers, one of the most important first home necessities is to have an attractive looking home exterior. But you’ll have to look at much more than just how the exterior of your home looks. It could be beautiful but have bigger issues just underneath its facade.
When you’re thinking about your list of first home necessities, a pest-free home should be high on the list. One thing you will want to check for or have an inspector check for are signs of pests around the exterior of the home. Here are a few tell-tale signs that a home may have pest issues:
- Live bugs: This may seem obvious, but if there is a lot of bug life around the cracks of the home, that’s a sign that there are likely way more hidden under the home and in the walls.
- Dead bugs inside: If you are finding a lot of dead bugs in the tracks of windows and along window ledges, that’s another sign that there may be more hiding out.
- Droppings and fur: Another obvious sign of pests like rats and mice are droppings and clumps of fur. While it may seem gross, it will benefit you to take pictures of the droppings so you can research what kind of pest you’re dealing with or even to show to a pest control company so they know what they’re trying to get rid of.
- Scratch marks or sounds: If you heard strange sounds in the wall, like scratching, scurrying, or squeaking, that’s one very obvious sign that you’ve got pests. You may also find scratch marks or chewed wood in corners or the basement of the home.
- Neighbor complaints: If you get a chance to talk to the neighbors around a home you’re considering, make sure to ask about any pest problems they’re having. Chances are if the surrounding homes have issues, it’s likely your home may as well.
Make sure to take the time to check both inside and outside the home you’re considering for signs of pests. While an inspector would be able to do a much more thorough inspection, if you see obvious signs right off the bat, it’s not even worth paying an inspector to tell you what you already know. Time to move on to your next house option.
Doors and Windows
The doors and windows of a home can have a huge impact on aesthetics, but when you’re considering first home necessities, you will also want to have a look at their impact on energy and utility prices of the home.
Depending on when the home was built and if it’s had any many remodels or renovations in its time, the windows of the home may have been updated for energy efficiency. If not, you’ll have to consider that that is something you may end up paying for after purchasing the home. While this can be an expensive upgrade, if the house checks all of your boxes, the price tag may be worth it. There are a few options for upgrading windows to be more energy-efficient and save you money on your utility bills:
- The first and cheapest option is to install better blinds on your windows. If the hot sun is beating through your windows all day with nothing to obstruct it, your HVAC will have to work harder to keep the home cool. Good blinds can save you money right away by blocking out the sun when it’s brightest and hottest during the day.
- The second option is to replace your windows. There are quite a few options for energy-efficient windows with different types of glass, upgrades in insulation, and even using different types of material for the frames. If you’re considering this option, make sure to talk with your local window professionals about what options would be best for your home.
As you are checking windows for energy efficiency, you’ll also want to look at the doors on the home. Does the front door have a gap that could let in a draft? If the back door is glass, does it have blinds to block out the hot sun? You may need to consider this when getting a garage door installation as well. Do the garage doors function properly and seal when closed to keep water out? Again, these are changes that could be made fairly easily but could add up in price fast. If there are any issues, keep those in consideration for the final decision as you check out all the other first home necessities.
Among the checklist of first home necessities for new home buyers is a properly cared for yard. This could include either grass or gravel depending on the climate you live in, greenery, and a properly fenced-in area. Many people choose to make changes to a yard once they’ve purchased a home, but you want to make sure you’re starting with a good foundation. If the home you’re considering is covered in weeds and thorny bushes, you’ll have to spend time clearing them out or hire a gardener. If the home doesn’t have a fence or needs a replacement, you’ll have to pay for fencing services to make sure your yard is protected and your kids or pets will be safe. Again, these aren’t necessarily deal-breakers, but the price can add up quickly.
Top on your list of first home necessities should be a good quality roof. Roofing repairs or replacement can be extremely expensive, not to mention the cost to repair any damage made if there are leaks. Proper roofing will also make your home more energy-efficient. Having a roof with the right material could result in as much as a 30% decrease in the energy needs for a home. Spotting a bad roof is more difficult to the untrained eye, so you may have to wait for an inspector to give the stamp of yay or nay. However, if you can see loose shingles, holes, or patches, that could be an early sign that the roof of the home may have issues.
Moving to the interior items on your first home necessities checklist, is a clean, modern kitchen. The kitchen is one of the highest traffic rooms in a home, and if it has not been properly maintained, you will be able to tell right away. Thousands of families choose to remodel their kitchen every year, so as long as you find a home with a kitchen that has a good foundation, you’ll be able to save yourself money on any potential remodel. Keep an eye out for things like open space, lots of storage, updated appliances, real wood cabinets, and modern kitchen countertops. Even purchasing a home with a kitchen that has recently replaced appliances will save you thousands of dollars down the road.
After a good kitchen on your list of first home necessities should be good bathrooms. Bathrooms are second below kitchens on the highest traffic rooms in your home. Again you will want to look for bathrooms that have a good foundation to start with for you to build on in renovations or remodels. However, you will want to look for many different features in a bathroom; properly installed, waterproof flooring, a tub or shower that has been well-maintained, stone countertops, good lighting, and storage. However, you will also want to keep an eye out for signs of issues caused by water damage. Because a bathroom is so consistently humid and damp, mold and mildew can be a serious problem. Look under the counter and check out the floor and tub/shower for any cracks that could be leaking water. Renovating a bathroom is one thing while paying for major repairs due to water damage is another.
Another important item of your list of first home necessities should be a properly functioning plumbing system. However, this is not usually something you’d be able to see issues with from just looking at the rooms of the home. It requires the professional eyes and skills of an inspector or plumber. An inspector or plumber coming through a home to check for issues anywhere water runs through the house, including bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, the garage, and the exterior of the home. They have tools that allow them to check the main sewage line for any blocks that could cause pricey issues and repairs. They’ll also check for proper insulation that will protect your pipes from freezing or bursting during the cooler months.
Plumbing services can add up in price, along with many of the other things on this list. Talk with your inspector about any specific issues with a house you’re considering before you make any decisions. Some fixes are more expensive and time-consuming than others, so keep that in mind as you make your final decision.
While you are touring the interior of a home you will want to keep an eye out for another item of your checklist of first home necessities; good floors. Everyone’s definition of good floors may vary, some like lots of carpet, while others prefer hardwood. A subway tile in a bathroom may be one person’s dream space and another’s nightmare. While everyone’s preferences for flooring is different, there are a few things that should be universal when it comes to “good” flooring.
Proper installation should be high on that list. If you notice any warped boards, cracked tiles, or carpet that is pulling up, that’s a pretty clear sign that flooring services may be needed. Flooring doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker unless that are obvious signs of issues. Replacing flooring is expensive, but there are always more budget-friendly options. Talk with a local hardware store or professional home remodeling team about pricing to get an idea of what you might need to pay before you make a final decision.
Up there with roofing, a properly functioning HVAC system should be high on your list of first home necessities. Similar to plumbing, you generally won’t be able to detect HVAC issues on your own, so you will have to wait to work with an inspector or HVAC professional to know if there are any issues with the home you’re considering. Replacing an HVAC system is very expensive, so if a home you’re considering has any issues, you may want to pass. If the home has had a repair or replacement recently, you’ll have to keep in mind that you may need air conditioning or heating services depending on which month you’re going into, so be prepared for those payments.
Last but not least is another one of the most important items on your first home necessities checklist. A home with a properly functioning electrical system is key. If you are looking at homes that are older or considered “antique” or “retro”, you will need a professional inspector to check out the system. Older homes are not built to handle the amount of electricity we use nowadays, and replacing an electrical system or having electric services done is expensive. If the system of the home you’re looking at is old or not up to speed, this is a big dealbreaker for a home.
As you are going over your checklist of first home necessities, make sure to keep these previously mentioned suggestions high on your list. Buying a new home is an exciting time, and while there is a lot to consider, you don’t want to stress of decision making to force you into making a poor decision. If you consider each of the topics on this list, you are sure to find the perfect home for you and your family.