When planning to buy a home, most potential buyers begin to search for homes on the Internet.  They will locate the area-perhaps considering Berkeley homes-and then isolate the specific neighborhood to investigate.  The traditional Open House format is an ideal way to have some idea about what is available in their price range.  While a nice flyer about the home is always helpful, touring a home that interests you is an even better way to evaluate your possibilities.

This is one of a few articles that will be written as to what to look for when touring an Open House.  This one stresses asking about the condition of the home. This is the time to ask questions and get answers.

Items to Ask About the Condition of the Home:

1. What is the condition of the floors?  You will want to know about the floor condition at every level of the home, literally from top to bottom.  When you enter the home for the first time, note the condition of the carpeting.  Is is new, recently cleaned, or worn out?  If worn out, it may indicate some deferred maintenance which could be reflected elsewhere in the home.  Determine what kind of flooring is underneath the carpeting.  Is is basic flooring, older but nicer parquet flooring, or does it appear to be potentially stained from years of pet activity?  The same applies to new flooring just applied.  There are many versions of the newer laminate floorings being used now, so inquire as to its quality as well.  Check the basement floors for leaks, cracks, stains-especially around larger appliances and the heating source. 

2. What is the condition of the walls?  Most homes have been painted to enhance their appeal, but many have not.  Inquire as to the age of the paint, and whether it may be lead based.  Check out the quality of the paint job.  Does it appear to have been done quickly and cheaply? If so, you will have to spend your own funds in a very few years to redo the work.   Find out about recent signs of plastering. Ask what was there before the plaster, and/or what it might be covering. Look for stains both high and low on the walls.  Stains indicate leaks of moisture.  Determine the sources. 

3. What is the condition of the stairs?  Stairs are an important structural element in the home.  They are expensive to replace and repair.  Very often they reflect the stability of the home.  If they are crooked or not level, or cracked, it may indicate the home is settling, or there are foundation issues. Again, ask questions if you see questionable issues.

4. What is the condition of the fireplace?  Another good indicator of the stability of the home and its foundation is the fireplace.  If it is cracked, you can have a potential hazard on your hands as far as safety is concerned.  Go outside and look at the back of the fireplace and see how it attached to the building.  This is often an excellent way to determine condition.  Find out if the fireplace works. Does it draw well?  Does it leak?  This is another potential repair that you can avoid by asking the right things. 

These are a few of many items to consider in viewing one of what will become one of your major life's purchases, and one in which you will spend many happy years. 



Posted by Bruce Wagg on


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