Home buying season is upon us. After purchasers holding the upper hand for quite some time, the tide may be turning. According to an article written by Jim Gallagher posted on STLToday.com, “In much of the region, it’s no longer a buyers’ market.”
With potentially fewer houses for sale, buyers may feel rushed into making a decision. Understanding some of the potential home maintenance basics can help alleviate your fears and potentially prevent you from making an offer on a home that you may later regret. What are some of the things to look for when looking at a St. Louis home for sale? Although it is best to seek professional guidance, below is a quickie guide for your first look at a home:
If there is a driveway, examine it for cracks and/or ruts. As you walk toward the front door, notice the exterior. Asbestos siding or chipping mortar between bricks can add extra expenses later. Be sure to ask the age of the roof. Anything over 15 years of age may need to be replaced soon. If there is a chimney, be sure to check if it is in good repair.
As soon as you walk indoor, take a deep breath. Can you smell mold, mildew or pet urine? Too much air freshener can indicate masked odors. As you walk, check out the floors to see if they creak and if they are in good shape. Look up at the ceiling and look for signs of water staining, which may indicate a leak.
If you are serious about purchasing the home, you will want to run the water and flush the toilets to check for water flow and drainage. Look under the sinks and examine for leaks. If there is a basement, take a look at the plumbing stack and check for holes or carbuncles. Has the hot water heater been recently updated? Examine the water lines and ask what kind they are. Galvanized pipes are old school and may grow blocked with age. Copper water lines are preferred.
Be sure to ask the age of the air conditioner and heating systems, along with the efficiency rating. The normal range for the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER rating on HVAC) of an air conditioner is between 13-14. The higher the number, the more energy savings you will enjoy. When looking at the heating unit, a 90 plus efficiency furnace has PVC vent piping is preferred. Older air conditioning and heating units can quickly add to future expenses.
Ask about the wiring and the electrical panel. Copper wiring is preferred. Tube and knob wiring is older and not advised. Turn on all the lights in the house. Do they work and do the fixtures appear up-to-date?
Be sure to examine the foundation and check for cracks. If there is a basement, check for evidence of leaks and examine the floor joists. If you see sawdust, it might be a sign of termites. If there is wood of varying colors or ages, it could indicate a repair. The same information is useful for the attic. Water staining can indicate past or present roof leakage. You will want to ask about the quality of insulation in the home.
Are the windows/doors in good repair and do they open freely? Is there more than one pane of glass in the windows? Insulated windows can lower your energy costs. An insulated garage door is a valuable bonus.
Although these suggestions are not everything you need to know about the structural integrity of a home, it is a good start. By educating yourself on some of the basics, you will feel more confident in your purchase and potentially save yourself from disappointment. When you work with a licensed real estate agent, you have a partner in the process. Your Prudential Select Properties agent will be there to help you find the answers to your questions and help you make the best decision possible.
Disclaimer: This article is for entertainment/educational purposes only and not meant to replace the advice of a qualified home repair or inspection professional.