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9 Weird Things to Check for When Buying a House

Outlet on a Green Wall

Go Beyond the Basics to Buy with Confidence

If you’re in the market to buy a home, your “must-haves” checklist likely includes the important stuff—location, size, number of bedrooms and baths, as well as price. Typically, you’ll have an idea of how much yard you want and if having a kitchen island is a non-negotiable. 

You’ll look for something that works for your lifestyle and matches your design sense. And of course, you won’t skip out on an inspection to make sure key structural elements are in tip-top shape, from the roof to the foundation. Seriously, always get an inspection.

What many buyers don’t notice are the weird little details. At an open house, you may not feel comfortable flushing toilets and taking measurements. 

That’s why you hire a proactive and dedicated real estate agent who will point things out or set up a private showing so that you can really take your time and investigate a home without other people around and a lot of commotion.

A showing is your opportunity to figure out if the home is the one, and if you’re ready to take the next step with confidence. The last thing your agent wants is for you to have buyer’s remorse! 

So, when it comes time to take a deep dive, here are 9 odd details to investigate.

  • Number and location of outlets. Make sure you can charge all cell phones, set up office computers and printers, as well as place TVs. Dreaming of baking on that giant kitchen island? Your prized mixer is going to need a plug! Pro tip—safer, three-prong outlets are preferred and more compatible with modern electronics. 
  • Go ahead and flush that toilet. You have every right to flush, check shower pressure, and time how long it takes for hot water to arrive. Check all the bathrooms, all the sinks. Under the sink as well. Smell the water coming out of your taps and take a sip. So much of our lives revolve around water, test away.
  • Hidden damage to the flooring. While you shouldn’t shove around a seller’s couch and grand piano, go ahead and roll runners and rugs all the way back. We’ve all thrown a rug over a stain or ding in the floor and just gone on with life. By discovering those old spots before you buy, it’s possible to negotiate repairs before moving in.
  • Can you hear me now? Hello? As you go from room to room, make sure you maintain a strong cell signal. You and your partner or real estate agent can get on a call and walk different areas (inside and out) to test things and find any potential dead zones. Having to stand on a chair in the south corner of your bedroom just to take a phone call is not exactly the most convenient option.
  • Where do all your coats go? Because you're not making yourself at home (just yet), it's easy to overlook a missing hall closet when doing a walkthrough. But where will all your winter layers and shoes and backpacks and gear and life stuff go when you live there? If there’s no mudroom, coat closet, or easily hidden drop zone, that mess is going to end up where you don’t want it, like the dining room table. Trust and believe!
  • Count the steps from your car to the kitchen. This is how far you’ll be carrying bags of groceries and Costco hauls. Does the path include stairs? Are you protected from rain and snow? Will it be easy to wrangle kids and groceries? While you're at it, map out steps for taking out the garbage or getting your pup out to the yard.
  • PIVOT! Whether you’re doing the heavy lifting or hiring movers, an oversized or double front door can make a world of difference. Beyond the door, look at the home’s angles, staircases, hallways and doorways then imagine getting a couch or king bed through. Even beyond moving day, tight turns can prove to be a nuisance in the long run if and when you swap out furniture or make updates to the home.
  • Listen to the house. One creaky step might be charming, but squeaky floors, steps and cabinet doors can quickly wear on you. Wonky drawers and doors that stick can become frustrating while clunks and clanks from the HVAC might scare pets or kids. Some might be easy fixes while others might indicate more complex issues.
  • Do some discreet lurking. Drive by at different times to suss out parking, noise levels, and maybe get a look at who your neighbors are. Go for a walk past the home to take in sights, smells and sounds. Shop local grocery stores, try out nearby restaurants, and see if the community pool gets busy on a Saturday. Get a sense of what life might be like since location is not something you can remodel.

Finally, check yourself. House hunting can be a long, emotional process. It’s tough to find the perfect home and if you do, there’s no guarantee that your offer will be accepted. You may even be tempted to settle, but with the right real estate agent, there’s no need to go that route. 

They will help you figure out priorities and what it will take to live happily as of day one—a home that’s functional, welcoming and just feels right.

A home where the things that are impossible to change, such as location, align with what you need and want. And a home that works for you now and down the road even if you can envision making a few changes.

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