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Buyers: 6 Things to Remember While Viewing Properties

When you’re in the market to buy, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment. The prospect of a new living space is exciting… the spacious, inviting entryway, the perfectly arranged decor in the living room, the shiny kitchen with those white marble countertops. You’re now daydreaming about your perfect life in this perfect home. You’ve always wanted an all-white kitchen, and the light carpet will be fine with the two dogs and five-year-old. It’s berber, so it should be more durable? We’ll simply implement a no-paws and shoes policy!

If you find yourself in THAT headspace, the sellers and listing agents have done a spectacular job marketing that property to you. You’re in! Give me that contract!! But wait. What about the schools close by? How much do utility bills cost in a house? You’re used to condo living and condo bills.

Assuming you’ve already checked off your pre qualification items (credit approval, interest rate check etc), there are very important items that a buyer must not forget to address during the home-viewing process. We’ve put together a checklist for you to print (yes, print) to have on hand while you’re out there – getting a reality check earlier could save you from unwelcome surprises later.

6 Things to Remember While Viewing Properties

  1. Future Maintenance Upgrades. Keep your eyes and nose on high alert here, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you see rust on the AC unit, water heater, or furnace, it could indicate lack of maintenance – and are potentially costly to repair or replace. For detached properties, ask about the roof (has it needed repair? When was it installed?). Do you smell something musty or earthy, even if in only a room? Musty odour can indicate mould and should be addressed right away.
  2. Future Cosmetic Upgrades. Where did the Seller invest in the home? Kitchens, bathrooms, roofing and utility upgrades are the most expensive areas to upgrade. If you’re going to want to eventually renovate that powder room, it would be wise to keep that in mind.
  3. School District. It can be a royal nightmare trying to get your child in a school that is not in your district. If you’re set on a certain school, it is well worth exploring properties in that district first.
  4. Utility Bills, Strata Fees and Taxes. This may not so much of an issue if you’re downsizing, but if you’re moving up, these are worth paying attention to. If you’re looking at condos, check the strata minutes diligently, as well as the reserve. The last thing you need after putting a deposit down is finding out that the sliding doors in the entryway have broken and needs to be completely replaced…or realizing your utility bill was a little more than a few dollars more, due to the efficiency of the heating system.
  5. Improvement Potential. If you’re comfortable with a little DIY (or moving into a less-than-perfectly-finished space), it is well worth looking at areas with improvement potential (does the carpet have hardwood underneath?). Less than perfect spaces aren’t priced at a premium and will provide you with upside potential when you’re ready to sell, and you have the freedom to design it to your own taste.
  6. Can Your Family Grow? Can the home expand along with your family’s changing needs? This doesn’t need to mean a child; if you’re single, what if you become a couple? 500 SQFT can become real tight, really quickly.

Download a few copies of this Property Checklist to take with you on home tours!

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