Buying a new home is a big undertaking. Whether you are looking for a house in Mason City, Clear Lake, or somewhere else in north central Iowa, there are certain things you should take into consideration to ensure you get the best home for the best possible price. It's vital that you know the important things to check when buying a house before you start looking, so you'll be ready when you think you've found your dream home.
There are many things that you need to take into consideration when viewing houses for sale. If you come prepared with this list, you will have a good start on knowing what to look for when buying your new house. Of course, you are not an expert, so the final tip, which suggests getting a home inspection done before actually buying, is crucial for ultimate success.
Check out these tips and heed them closely. A few extra minutes inspecting these important aspects of a home can save you a lot of time and money in the future.
10 Things to Check When Buying a House in North Iowa
When viewing houses for sale in north Iowa or anywhere, there are certain things you should consider before falling in love with a house and making an offer. Don't make any snap decisions when home shopping; take your time and make sure a house is right for you and is in good shape so you don't end up with a money pit.
Decide what you want and what you don't want.
Before you even set out on your home buying mission, you need to first determine exactly what you seek. Think about your dream home and its features. Take some time to make a list of your needs and wants, but also be realistic with your budget in mind. Also, consider the things you absolutely must have and the negative factors that would be dealbreakers for you.
Think about how many bedrooms and bathrooms you really need and will use. If you do a lot of cooking, you may want a larger kitchen than you would if you do not. Storage is another important factor to consider; do you have a lot of things to store and how many closets do you need?
Whether or not you want a multi-story home is another consideration. Climbing stairs frequently can be difficult or even just annoying for some people. Do you want a lot of privacy and silence, or would you enjoy being on a main thoroughfare with lots of action and activity?
If the home you seek has a yard, how big of a yard do you want, and how much of a grade is too much? Schools and neighborhood amenities can vary from place to place, so it's often helpful for you to do some extra research in that realm to learn more about a specific area.
No matter what size or style home you would like, these are all important things to think about before house hunting. Armed with this information, you will already be able to narrow your search somewhat, and therefore experience more rapid and satisfying success.
Smelly houses stink!
When visiting potential homes that interest you, follow your nose. If a house has any weird smells, that might be your cue to get out of there without going any further. Scent can be very intrusive, and it's often hard to identify, and even harder to eliminate. Smells like smoke, mildew, and pet accidents can permeate surfaces and may remain long after the culprit has disappeared.
If a house smells too nice, on the other hand, that may be suspicious also. Realtors often use pleasant ambient smells to help them to sell homes, but if the scents seem too pervasive, then it's possible they are trying to cover something up. Beware.
Look for signs of lazy maintenance.
If you can see signs of laziness in a home's maintenance, it's likely that there are other problems that are not visible to the naked eye. Leaky faucets, peeling paint and unmanicured landscaping shows that the previous owner didn't care too much about his or her home.
As a result, you can probably also guess that they didn't bother with many of the larger required maintenance jobs, like checking the roof for leaks, cleaning the chimney, and changing air filters on schedule. Each of these things is crucial for proper upkeep of a residence, and their slacking will cause you eventual problems down the road.
Water is a homeowner's worst enemy.
It rains in north Iowa, and it snows. There are times of the year when it seems like there is water everywhere. If water gets inside a home and into places where it shouldn't be, it can cause major problems.
Water can get into a house in a variety of ways. Although a pond or creek on the property can look visually appealing, it can also be a source of flooding in the future. The grade of the yard can also result in water coming into the home during intense spring rains or during snow melts. A leaky roof, cracked windows, old caulking, and outdated plumbing can also lead to leaks and flooding as well.
Some water damage will be visible and obvious, but other damage may be hidden behind walls or fresh coats of paint. Look for small black spots, rust and water stains, bubbling wallpaper or a musty odor. Water damage can quickly lead to mold, and mold can cause serious health problems in children and the elderly; it is often costly to remedy and it can get worse fast.
Test the temperature.
You will want to be comfortable inside your home no matter what the weather is like outside, so checking out the heating and cooling system in a home is essential. Insulation is expensive, so making sure a home is well insulated before buying it will greatly improve your defense against cold Iowa winters. Good windows can decrease your heating and cooling costs by keeping warm or cool air inside, so be sure to check them out too.
Don't let cosmetic enhancements fool you.
Although some of the special touches a homeowner added to their home might be eye-catching, remember that they may have been done to fool you. A new coat of paint may be covering up mold spots, and a fancy light fixture may be there to draw your attention away from the fact that the dining room is far too small for entertaining. If an area rug seems out of place, check underneath; it may be hiding a stain on the carpet or hardwood below.
Be aware of air flow.
One thing many home shoppers overlook is checking for proper ventilation, but it's so important. If air is not moving around the house smoothly, then the stagnant air may encourage the settling of dust or the growth of mold. These things can lead to allergies that may bother you and your family.
In order to check for good ventilation even when all the doors and windows are closed, look closely for condensation, especially on the windows. You may also be able to spot bubbled paint or wallpaper which can also indicate trapped moisture and a lack of air flow.
The roof, the roof, the roof is important.
Obviously having a strong roof is a structural necessity for a happy home. Find out how old the current roof is and ask how much longer it should last. Roofing is not cheap, and if you have to replace it soon after purchasing a home, it could be an expense you didn't plan on.
It may be hard to tell from the ground, so get up there if possible and look more closely. Loose shingles, obvious holes, and dips in the structure are all bad signs. On the other hand, if you have a good roof, you may end up paying less in homeowner's insurance; a strong roof to protect you against Iowa's hail, ice and snow in the winter will help you to fortify your home overall.
Foundation is key.
Every house needs a strong foundation. If the foundation is weak or crumbling, the whole house is at risk for disaster. A faulty foundation may not be visible from the outside of the home, and without help, you may have trouble identifying foundation problems.
However, there are a few clues that indicate a foundation issue is evident. Sagging floors, crooked walls and tiles, and dips in ceilings all may give away a weakened foundation. If you're unsure, take a marble and set it on the floor; if it rolls without help, you may have a problem.
Have any home you may want to purchase thoroughly inspected.
This cannot be stressed enough. Even if you believe you have found your dream home and everything looks good to you, enlist the help of a professional home inspector to confirm your assessment. He or she may see things you have missed and is trained to find problems that a seller may be trying to hide. It's better to find out before buying that a house has major issues than it will be to learn about them sometime down the road.
Happy House Hunting
All of these tips will help you to check out a home that interests you without investing too much time or money before buying. Look out for red flags and remember that there are always other houses to consider if the first one you like doesn't work out. Being careful during the home shopping process will ensure that you are much happier and better off down the road.
If you are looking for a great realtor to help you on your home buying journey in northern Iowa, look no further than Jane Fischer & Associates. We are ready, willing, and able to answer your questions and offer our guidance to you every step of the way, and no one knows north central Iowa like we do. Please contact us today to find out more; we are waiting for you. We will help you determine even more things to check when buying a house, so soon you can start living in your new home.