Home Buying Considerations When Touring for the First Time

Home tour tips to help you know what to look for when you're house hunting

Before you begin looking at homes, it's important to make a list of what you need, what would be ideal, and what you could live without. This list of home buying considerations will help you prioritize design elements and know what to look for as you tour the different homes. You’ll probably be touring several homes and it can be hard to keep track. Bring your list and these home buying considerations to each property you visit, whether at an open house or private tour with your real estate agent. Write down any questions you have, concerns you want to look into more, or things you liked or didn’t like about each home.

Home tour tips for space

How large a kitchen are you looking for? Do you want it to be connected to your living room or dining room? Do you want a finished or unfinished basement? Is a home without a master suite a deal breaker? Most homes come with a specification sheet that documents the dimensions of each room. Make sure you get a copy of this to figure out how your furniture would fit in the house and follow these home tour tips:

  • Keep the resale value of the home in mind. Homes with three to four bedrooms and one-and-a-half to two bathrooms will sell better and provide room for your family to grow.
  • Take photographs of the rooms. Most homes have photos available online and at the open house. However, you may want to take more photos if there is something specific you’re comparing with the other homes you visit.
  • Consider storage space. Is there a crawl space or a full attic? Does the basement look like it would be a safe space for storage?

Home tour tips for location

If you have children you may want to look for a quiet, safe location. But if you’re newlyweds or empty nesters you may want to live in a vibrant community of others your age. No matter where you want to be, these home tour tips for location can help you find the right home:

  • Go by the house at different times. Drive by at various parts of the day and on weekends to get a feel for the neighborhood, street traffic and noise levels.
  • Take a day and drive your commute.
  • Consider the direction the house faces. How will that affect the natural sunlight you receive?
  • Look at the lot size. If you ever plan to expand, you'll want that extra land.
  • Check the condition of the driveway and any decks or patios. These aren't hard to fix, but may fall by the wayside in the face of other improvements, so make sure you're happy with them as they are for now.

Home tour tips for appliances, furniture and finishings

It's important to do what you can to visualize your family living in the home and make the transition as easy as possible. Use these home tour tips for appliances and more for help focusing on the smaller details:
  • Find out if appliances or fixtures are staying with the home. Some homeowners take their dishwashers and ceiling fans or lights with them when they leave. If they are modern and your style, you may want to negotiate keeping them.
  • Ignore furnishings. Try to picture your own décor in the space.
  • Be aware of unusually small fixtures. They can be designed to make a small room look bigger.
  • Don't give up because of bad paint colors or carpeting. These are relatively easy and inexpensive fixes.
  • Test the water pressure and hot water system. Turn on water at the sinks and in the shower to check the pressure and see how quickly the water gets warm.

Home tour tips for structure and follow-up with an inspector

While you’ll have a professional home inspector examine any home before you close on the sale, there are some things you can look for while touring a house which could be signs of future problems. Keep track of any issue that may make you hesitant to make an offer or that you would want an inspector to look into more thoroughly. These tips will give you an idea of what to look for:

  • Check for signs of mold and water damage. Problem areas include the bathrooms as well as the kitchen, basement and garage. Fresh paint could be covering this up on walls and ceilings.
  • Walk around the basement and exterior to look for problems with the foundation. Most older homes will have some settling of the foundation, but any major cracks or damage could mean big expenses for you.
  • Ask the seller for a history of the home. This should include past insurance claims and dates of repairs.
  • Look for evidence of pests or rodents. Common giveaways are mouse or ant traps under the sink, grooves in the wood which might suggest termites, and holes in the yard that may be evidence of groundhogs or moles.
  • Walk the property to look for issues. If the ground is soggy, and it hasn’t rained in a while, there may be drainage issues. Look for trees that need to be taken down, or a fence you might like to remove.
  • Ask or check if the attic is properly insulated and ventilated.
  • Check the heading and cooling system. Old, inefficient units could end up costing you in high energy bills. Just glancing at the units while you tour will let you know if you need the inspector to pay close attention.
  • Find out when the roof and siding were last replaced or repaired. Are they in good condition? An inspector can look into this more fully, but knowing the roof hasn’t been replaced in 15 years may make you lean toward a different home on your list if you don’t want that expense as soon as you move in.

Obtain a mortgage loan pre-approval from Citizens Bank before house hunting

Obtaining a pre-approval for a home loan from Citizens Bank will help you set an accurate budget for yourself and allow you to hunt for homes with more confidence. Once you have found a home and made an offer you should have a licensed inspector assess the home. After that, you will be ready to finalize your mortgage loan. If you have more questions about the mortgage process and home buying considerations, speak to one of our home loan advisors.


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