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7 Things to Look For When Evaluating a House

When I’m showing my buyer customers homes, I like to share with them some of the things I’ve learned to look for in a property. As an inspiring investor/flipper, I’ve taken the past few years to hone my skills in evaluating properties, renovations and repairs. If a property shows evidence of some costly needed repairs or possible renovations that could really add value, I’ll pass that on to my customers.

Fixer Upper

Here I’ll share with you some basics I look at to judge the value and potential of a property. These are seven things to look for when evaluating a house:

  1. LOCATION: As I drive to the property location, I look at the neighborhood to see if it’s kept up nicely or looks messy. I pay attention to traffic and noise and anything else that may be looked upon negatively. I also pay attention to positive things that a buyer may want to be near, like a school, park or shopping.
  2. EXTERIOR: When I first get to a house, I like to walk around the outside. I take note of the roof’s visible condition. If it has a tarp, missing shingles, or obvious dips in the roof there may be leaks and a roof replacement costs thousands. I take note of the windows, whether they’re intact, newer or older. I look for cracks in the walls. Some minor cracks may be fine. Stair-step cracks, especially with significant separation of a quarter inch or more, may be indicative of foundation issues. That can be very costly. I take note of the yard and vegetation to see if much tree work or landscaping needs to be done. Is there irrigation? What is the exterior wall made of? Brick or block is a better value than wood frame or siding.
  3. INTERIOR LEAKS: Once inside I always look up to see if there are any stains on the ceiling from a possible roof leak. If there is damage in one area that may only require a repair, as opposed to a whole roof replacement. I use my nose. My nose is very sensitive and can easily smell mold or mildew. Often houses that sit for a while get a weird smell; that’s normal. Mold and mildew is pretty recognizable and can be a health hazard requiring professional remediation. I look for plumbing leaks under sinks and specifically look for grey colored pipes. This can mean there is polybutylene plumbing, which tends to leak and presents a problem with getting homeowners insurance.
  4. ELECTRICAL: Rewiring a whole house costs in the thousands. You’d only really have to do that if you had an historic house with knob and tube wiring. Aluminum wiring is not liked by insurance companies but there are some remedies available. If there is a Federal Pacific electrical box inside or outside, you’ll want to replace it or pay higher homeowner insurance. Often replacing those can be part of the purchase negotiation.
  5. AIR-CONDITIONING: To pass inspection, the A/C has to blow air. Some older houses don’t have central A/C, so I always see if it could easily be added. Window or wall units are not very popular. When you shop for homeowner’s insurance, they will often ask you to provide a 4-point inspection report, essentially reporting the condition of the roof, plumbing, electrical and A/C.
  6. FEELING: This may not be very scientific, but I always tell my buyers to see how they “feel” in the house. Call it a sixth sense, but I believe you really have to feel some sort of comfort or affinity for the house that you’ll call home. Somehow you just “know.” Sometimes I feel something negative and I’m not sure what it is. Maybe it’s just the lighting. Either way, keep looking until you find “the one” that really calls to you.
  7. OPTIONS: Many times when comparing houses you have to compare options that aren’t actually there or visible. Perhaps the house has only one bathroom but it has a large lot, maybe the house could be added onto. Or, the house isn’t exactly the way you like it, but it’s in a great neighborhood and after some renovations it could be absolutely perfect.

I love house shopping! To me, the uglier the house the more amazing the before and after pictures will be. Of course not everyone is looking for an extreme fixer upper like me, but these tips will help you as you shop for your dream home. If I may be of assistance, please call me at 407-236-6559. Or, if you have a scary house like the one in the picture, I may be willing to take it off your hands for the right price!