Spring is here and the housing market is warming up along with the weather.  If you’ve been looking for a while you may be ready to pounce on that perfect place the second it’s listed.  While it can be tempting to get psyched about the perfect location, stained glass windows, or a bay window, it makes a lot of financial sense to consider what lays beneath the surface of that perfectly stained oak flooring.

Here are 5 things to consider, examine, and research about that “perfect” listing before you make an offer.

  1. How old is the house or building?
    • How will this impact your maintenance costs for the next year, five years and beyond?
    • What work needs to be done right away and what can wait?
    • Can you afford these changes?
  2. How have the place and the appliances been maintained?
    • When was the last time the furnace was serviced?  Or the air conditioner?
    • What about the appliances?  Are they still under warranty?
    • Have the air ducts been cleaned?
    • What about the chimney?
  3. How much are utilities?
    • Is there anything that can (or needs to be done) to reduce utility costs (i.e. new windows, insulation or doors).
  4. What about the neighbours?
    • How do the houses around you look?  Are they well-kept and maintained?  This is particularly important for the houses directly beside and across the street from where you’re considering living.  No one wants their next door neighbour’s roof to fall down, or to inherit fleas or other bugs from the semi attached to them.
    • Is there a neighbourhood association? How much do people around you care about safety and their community?  Is there anyone unsavoury hanging around that makes you uncomfortable? Consider checking out the area’s crime rate to find out about potential safety issues.
    • Talk to the people you see when you’re visiting the place, see how much they like the area and how long they’ve lived there.  This is a good indicator of how people feel about their home.
  5. What about ground run-off or flooding?
    • Do you see any evidence of flooding in the basement or leaky seals anywhere inside?  Walk around the house and take a look for damage or recent repair that signals a red flag.  If you see anything suspicious, ask about it, or let your home inspector know your concerns before their inspection so they can provide an update on your specific queries.