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When shopping for a new Waterloo Region home, it’s easy to fall in love, and fast. You can find yourself dazzled by the sprawling backyard, trendy kitchen, or sky-high ceilings, and want to make an offer right then and there, so that no one else can score this stunning home.
But before you have your real estate agent start writing that offer, it’s important to take a step back and take the time to evaluate the perhaps less-exciting details. These often overlooked details may ultimately lead to significant, costly issues.
Here’s what to look for and how to get beyond the WOWs:
Does every window open? For safety and emergency reasons, every room needs a window that can be opened. Do they close and lock securely? Is the glass intact? Is there a tight thermal seal (which is important to regulate temperature)?
Replacement windows are not cheap, and certainly not an expense that you want to undertake right after you purchase your home. Yet poor windows not only pose a security risk but can lead to excessive energy bills and even things like water damage as well.
Look for cracks, stains, holes, and warping. Ask if there’s another layer of flooring under carpet, tile, or laminate. Is the floor level? If not, it might be an indication of water, or worse, structural problems.
That beautifully finished basement could be hiding a plethora of problems, from leaks to mold to holes to critter infestations. Use a powerful flashlight to carefully examine corners and walls and look behind and under finishings.
Roof replacements are costly. Find out when the roof was last addressed, and whether it was a patch or a replacement. Look for signs of damage from the street and make sure you view the rood from as many angles as possible.
Look beyond the obvious into the details: Is local traffic a nightmare in rush hour? Is there reliable transit nearby? Is the home near green space, schools, and recreational facilities? Take a walk AND a drive around the neighbourhood to get to know it from both a driver and a pedestrian’s point of view, as the two can be very different.
If the home doesn’t have a garage, will the driveway accommodate your vehicles? Is there good on-street visitors’ parking? What rules given that parking (if it exists)? These are all questions that a seller should be able to answer, so don’t forget to have your real estate agent ask them for you.
Even after you’ve checked the details, you should still get a second opinion from a pro. If you are going to make that offer, make it contingent on a home inspection. A reliable home inspector can dig deeper into the details and possibly find things that you have overlooked. It will involve a small extra expense – about $300 – and add a little more time to your move-in timeline, but isn’t your peace of mind worth it?