Home Buyer Checklist


This checklist IS NOT intended to replace an inspection by a qualified Home Inspector. It was designed to give prospective home buyers a handy guide to evaluate homes with a critical eye. There is room to evaluate three homes side-by-side. You should not dismiss a home because it may have problems, almost all homes have some problems. Some problems are easy to fix, others indicitive of common problems in an area or region. The purpose of this checklist is to make you aware of potential problems before you buy, allowing you to take those problems into consideration when making an offer on a home.

 

There are an almost infinite number of ways to search for a new home. We offer two methods that have worked very well for us.

1. You are looking for a new home in another state or region and will have limited time to spend looking at homes.

Sit down and list the features you will be looking for in a new home. The number of bedrooms and bathrooms, size of lot, price, special features such as hardwood floors, in-law living, fireplaces or neighborhoods. The more you can list, the better. Contact a real estate agent in the area you are planning to move to at least three weeks prior to visiting the area. Let the agent check listings in their area that match or come close to your list of requirements. Ask the agent to send you the list of homes with the address, price and any special features. Also ask the agent to send an area map. Most agencies have a relocation specialist that can assist you with maps, demographics and general information such as schools and services available. When you receive the list, look it over, locate and mark each listing on the map of the area. We suggest arriving in the area and spending a day with your map finding the homes on the list. Look at each house from the street and select three to six that you would like to visit with the agent. This will give you an opportunity to visit neighborhoods and get a feel for the area. When you have visited all the homes listed on your map, stop by to see the agent you are working with. Let the agent know which homes you want to see further and set up a time to return the next day. Ask the agent to refer you to a good restaurant in town and spend the evening wandering. A word of caution. In large cities there are neighborhoods that you should not just wander into. Ask the real estate agent for general guidance concerning how and where it is safe to wander.

 

Similar to #1, sit down and list the features you are looking for in a new home. Again, the more the better. Select a day or two to drive to the area you are interested in and drive around the neighborhoods. When you see a home with a For Sale sign in a neighborhood, write down the name of the Real Estate Agency, the agent and the phone number. If it is a house you might be interested in seeing inside, write down the address also. After spending an afternoon driving in the area you are interested in, select an agent from the list you have created. Contact the agent and set up a time to see him/her.

In both ways, you give yourself an opportunity to see a neighborhood without any time pressures. You will have an opportunity to see homes and areas you may not have the chance to if an agent brings you only to homes that are listed for sale.

A few comments concerning the selection of a real estate agent. The vast majority of real estate agents are professional and courteous. Many will go out of their way to help you select a home that is appropriate for your needs. They can direct you to professionals in their area for loans, home inspections or home repairs. As helpful and friendly as they may be, ALWAYS remember that the listing agent represents the Seller. To best represent your interests as a Buyer, it may be advisable to obtain the services of a Buyer's Agent. Ask your Agent for more information about Buyer Agency.

 

House 1

Address ________________________

Price _______________

 

House 2

Address ________________________

Price _______________

 

House 3

Address ________________________

Price _______________

 

# Of Rooms          #1 _____   #2 ______ #3 _____

Living Room

Dining Room

Kitchen

# of Bedrooms    #1 _____    #2 ______ #3 _____

# of Bathrooms   #1 _____    #2 ______ #3 _____

Basement

  Finished

  Unfinished

Garage, # of cars   #1 _____    #2 ______ #3 _____

Family Room

Taxes     #1 _____    #2 ______ #3 _____

Square Footage    #1 _____    #2 ______ #3 _____

 

When you arrive at a prospective home, spend a few minutes looking at the house. Its general condition and appearance. The landscaping, exterior color choices and materials. Always remember that individual tastes vary considerably and general appearances can often be changed.

 

Roof

Type     #1 _____   #2 ______ #3 _____

    A = Asphalt     W = Wood      T = Tile     M = Metal

Look for missing pieces of roofing material, or holes. Depressions or bulges in the roof surface should be checked from the inside.

Roof Condition   #1 _____    #2 ______ #3 _____

 

Gutters

Do gutter downspouts take water away from the house foundation? Are there holes or damage in gutters? Is there discoloration on soffits or siding from gutter overflows?

Gutter Condition    #1 _____   #2 ______ #3 _____

 

Soffits

Check for vents in good condition, warping, wood rot or discoloration.

Soffit Condition    #1 _____   #2 ______ #3 _____

 

Siding

Type      #1 _____    #2 ______ #3 _____

   B = Brick   ST = Stuco   V = Vinyl   A = Aluminum   O = Other

Check for missing pieces; gaps between siding and structure; gaps around windows or doors.

Siding Condition     #1 _____    #2 ______ #3 _____

 

Decks/Porches

Check under structure for wood/ground contact; check for gaps between stairs and deck surface; check for gaps between home and deck; check for wood rot, pooling water, loose boards or railings.

Deck/Porch Condition  #1 _____   #2 ______ #3 _____

 

Outside Visible Foundation

Check for cracks in foundation walls; check sill wood (wall structures in contact with foundation surfaces) for gaps, damage, or wood rot; check for moss growth; check for holes in foundation; check for pooling water along walls or in window wells; check concrete work (sidewalks or patios) for large cracks, non-level orientation, or separation from foundation where it originally abutted the foundation.

Foundation Condition  #1 _____   #2 ______ #3 _____

 

Landscaping

Check for pooling water; check for heavy moss growth, especially near foundations; check trees with potentially dangerous limbs; check for heavy undergrowth (source of rodents or insects) near foundation; check for rodent infestation (holes in lawn or near waste disposal areas).

Landscaping Condition  #1 _____   #2 ______ #3 _____

 

Occupied home: When you enter a home, try to look past any decorating or furnishings. Some homes only look great till you look behind the doors, or under the carpets. Others are great but cinder block shelves and threadbare furniture bias your view and have little to do with the soundness of a home. Try to visualize your furniture in each room.

Unoccupied home: Homes that are not occupied can feel more open, again try to visualize your furniture in each room. An unoccupied home gives you the opportunity to do a thorough inspection not always possible with an occupied home. Again, always remember that individual tastes vary considerably and general appearances can often be changed.

 

Entrance

Check entrance door for good fit in frame and solid (not hollow) construction; check entrance floor for water damage; check walls around door frame for, water damage or signs of forced entry.

Entrance Condition   #1 _____   #2 ______ #3 _____

 

Living/Dining Room

Check window sills for water damage; check ceilings for cracks; check wall coverings; check floor coverings.

L/D Room Condition     #1 _____   #2 ______ #3 _____

 

Fireplace

Check fireplace for cracks in firebrick; check for damper operation, check hearth and mantel for cracks or loose material.

Fireplace Condition   #1 _____   #2 ______ #3 _____

 

Bathrooms

Check floor around fixtures for water damage; check around bathtub/shower for gaps between floor covering and fixture (gaps allow water under floor covering); check for rust stains in sinks or tubs; check for window sills for water damage; run hot water in sink, check for discolored water or low water pressure. Turn on shower/or tub water and flush toilet - check for water pressure drops in tub/shower; check cabinets for water damage.

Bathroom 1 Condition   #1 _____    #2 ______ #3 _____

Bathroom 2 Condition   #1 _____   #2 ______ #3 _____

Bathroom 3 Condition   #1 _____   #2 ______ #3 _____

 

Kitchen

Check cabinets for damaged doors, loose shelves or loose cabinets; check cabinet under sink for water damage; check appliances for general operation; check water pressure in sink; check floor coverings for damage (especially near refrigerator); check surface counters for loose or damaged materials; check splash guards for water damage or seepage; check pantries or cabinets for signs of insects or rodents; if there is an exterior door check for undamaged screen/storm door and for adequate sealing.

Kitchen Condition  #1 _____ #2 ______ #3 _____

 

Utility Room

Check for water damage; check washer/dryer connections; check for storage space.

Utility Room Condition    #1 _____ #2 ______ #3 _____

 

Bedrooms

Check window sills for water damage and sealing; check wall coverings for damage; check for adequate storage space; check for floor coverings for damage; check walls and ceilings for water damage or cracks.

Bedroom 1 Condition    #1 _____ #2 ______ #3 _____

Bedroom 2 Condition    #1 _____ #2 ______ #3 _____

Bedroom 3 Condition    #1 _____ #2 ______ #3 _____

Bedroom 4 Condition    #1 _____ #2 ______ #3 _____

Bedroom 5 Condition    #1 _____ #2 ______ #3 _____

 

Attic

This area gives you the opportunity to check many hidden features of a home, IF you can get easy access. Check for water damage; check for holes; check for venting; check insulation type and size; check structure members for damage; check chimney and waste vent piping;

Attic Condition   #1 _____ #2 ______ #3 _____

 

Closets

Check for lighting that meets appropriate electrical codes; check for stable shelving or hanging rods; check for evidence of insects.

Closet Conditions   #1 _____ #2 ______ #3 _____

 

Stairwell

Check that floor coverings are secure and free of excessive wear; check railing systems for stability; check walls for cracks or gaps where stairs and walls meet.

Stairwell 1 Condition   #1 _____ #2 ______ #3 _____

Stairwell 2 Condition   #1 _____ #2 ______ #3 _____

Stairwell 3 Condition   #1 _____ #2 ______ #3 _____

 

Family Room

Because so many homes have "family rooms" either in the basement or part of the common use areas, it is difficult to list specific things you should check. If the family room is part of the basement and some of the mechanical systems are visible, check those items listed in "Basement" that are applicable. If a utility room is in the basement, check the appropriate items under "Utility Room". If the family room is part of the common use area, check similar items listed under "Living/Dining Room" and "Fireplace".

Family Room Condition   #1 _____ #2 ______ #3 _____

 

Garage

Check structural members; check car doors for stability; check door opener if available and possible; check slab for cracks or missing pieces; check windows; check roof for signs of water damage; check siding for holes or missing pieces; check for rodent infestation.

Garage Condition   #1 _____ #2 ______ #3 _____

 

Basement

If basement is finished use section entitled "Family Room". An unfinished basement gives a home buyer an excellent opportunity to inspect the various systems that make a home habitable. In many cases ONLY a qualified professional inspector can determine the soundness of a mechanical or structural system. However, even a general inspection can set off warning signals.

Check basement floor for cracks or pooling water (large cracks with moisture can indicate serious water problems); check for signs of moisture in foundation wall cracks; find areas where cracks were found outside to see if any match inside cracks; check for a level floor (it should slope slightly towards floor drains); check support timbers for stability and soundness - no large checks (cracks) and no holes through the timber; check floor joists that are visible for checking, sagging or wood damage; check any insulation for moisture or infestations; check exposed sheet metal duct work for holes or sagging; check all water pipes for signs of leaking or sweating; check all pipes that have insulation for tears or damage - CAUTION : In older homes pipe insulation might be asbestos, DO NOT pull or remove or disturb any insulation. Any damaged pipe insulation should be inspected by certified technicians; check all windows for good seals and no water damage; check structural penetrations for uncaulked or uninsulated holes (penetrations such as electrical, water and gas lines coming into the basement); check electrical wiring for frayed or damaged wires - DO NOT TOUCH damaged wiring, it may be live. Have damaged wiring checked immediately by a licensed electrician; Check the primary electrical panel; 100 amp service should be considered a minimum although a small home for an older couple might be fine with a 60 amp service (Local codes apply). Circuit breakers are better than fuses; check under kitchens and bathrooms for water damage to subflooring; check for insect or rodent infestations; does basement area have a musty or moldy smell - inadequate ventilation or excessive moisture.

Basement Condition   #1 _____ #2 ______ #3 _____

 

Home 1 General Notes:

Use this space to note items like neighborhood, special questions about unusual features, schools, utilities, shopping or other areas of interest.

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Home 2 General Notes:

Use this space to note items like neighborhood, special questions about unusual features, schools, utilities, shopping or other areas of interest.

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Home 3 General Notes:

Use this space to note items like neighborhood, special questions about unusual features, schools, utilities, shopping or other areas of interest.

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After having carefully looked at a couple of homes, you are ready to sit down with the Checklist and your Real Estate Agent. Talk to the Agent about each home and the potential cost for repairing any problems. Again, just because a home has problems does not mean you should automatically dismiss it. After going over the Checklist for each home, set the Checklist aside. Which home is the best for you? Which home appeals most to you? Which house feels like home? In the final analysis, you should buy a home you will be happy in. Once you have selected a home you can make an offer that you will be comfortable with, knowing you made an informed choice.

If you are aware of competent and trustworthy professionals, let others know about them. Consumers are always on the look out for businesses that help and stand by their service and products.

If you find this checklist useful, let the professionals you work with know about it. If you have suggestions for improvements or additions, please let us know. If you would like a copy in booklet form, contact me at victoria@cazelaw.com.

 

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