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While that house looks great in the listing photos, what’s really behind real estate listing? When it comes to really sizing up a potential new home, Waterloo Region home buyers should consider channeling their inner Sherlock Holmes and do some stealthy sleuthing during their real life walk through.
By doing so you’ll be able, to a certain extent, put your potential home to the test before you submit an offer. Here are just five ideas that even Dr Watson would approve of.
Play the Outside Private Eye
Before you even step foot inside a promising looking home, take some time to scope out the neighbourhood that immediately surrounds it. In just a drive or two you should be able to determine what the foot traffic like in the neighborhood, what the demographic makeup is like, how noisy – or quiet – the area is and even, if you drive to work, what a commute would really be like.
On these trips you should also get out of the car and do a local walking tour, taking note of things like how long it takes you to get to the nearest coffee shop or restaurant, or to the nearest bus stop or rail station. Not sure where you’re going? Fire up Google Maps on your cellphone, choose the walk icon and let it guide you around your potential new ‘hood.
Test-drive the Plumbing
Before you get seduced by that lovely stand-up shower with exposed copper pipes and wraparound glass doors, try it out yourself. Not literally of course (that would be super weird) but at least run the water for a minute or two.
How good is the water pressure? How quickly does the water heat up? Test the bathroom and kitchen sinks while you’re at it. Water pressure isn’t really a deal breaker, but low pressure could indicate a damaging slow leak and more water problems (and expenses) down the road and so it is something you would perhaps have to have checked out before making an offer.
Open a Few Windows
Even if it’s a bit chilly, open a few windows, especially in the room that may be your future bedroom. Can you hear a lot of traffic or general noise? When the windows are closed, can you feel drafts around the edge of the frames? Great windows are crucial for the look, feel and security of your home, not to mention its energy efficiency. Replacing windows is a time-consuming and expensive undertaking you may not want to take on, so you need to know what you are dealing with in advance.
Explore in Full Daylight
If the open house or first showing you attend occurs on a cloudy day, try to schedule a brief follow-up visit when the sun is shining. This will allow you to really see how the natural light flows through each room, especially high-traffic areas.
If a room seems especially dark, consider whether the paint color is causing the problem, rather than the room itself, which is something that is easily remedied, whereas a ‘naturally dark’ room is harder to lighten up.
Scope out the Storage Situation
Sellers are always advised to clear their homes of all clutter, but many still don’t, especially when it comes to closets that they are still using. However, before you become too turned off by an overstuffed bedroom closet, take out the tape measure and record some dimensions. The space may be larger than it seems; you can also take those measurements home and plan out a closet scheme online to see how much stuff it can really handle.